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Comedian, actor, radio host, writer. Born Broderick Steven Harvey in Welch, West Virginia, on January 17, 1957. Steve Harvey was the youngest of five children born to Eloise and Jesse Harvey, a coal miner who passed away in 2000 of black lung disease.
When Steve Harvey was young, his family moved to Cleveland, where he graduated from Glenville High School in 1974 before heading back to his home state to attend West Virginia University. After finishing school, Harvey spent his early twenties working at a number of jobs— insurance salesman, postman, even wannabe professional boxer — without finding anything that really seemed like his true calling. Harvey eventually found that on the stage, performing standup comedy for the first time in 1985. After honing his act through several years of performances in small clubs, he came close to hitting the big time by the end of the decade, making it to the finals of the Second Annual Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search in 1989.
From there, Harvey’s career really took off. In 1993, he took over as the host of Showtime at the Apollo, the famed syndicated variety show filmed at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. Harvey would stay on Showtime at the Apollo until 2000, but his hosting duties on the iconic show were far from the only thing on his plate.
In 1996, he got his own sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show, on the fledgling WB network. One of the few programs to gain any traction at all on the WB before the emergence of Dawson’s Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Steve Harvey Show gained a devoted following among a mostly African-American audience and stayed on the air until 2002. The show also proved notable for launching a productive professional partnership between Harvey and a younger comic named Cedric the Entertainer, who played Harvey’s best friend on the show and would later join him on a groundbreaking national standup tour.
On that tour, called The Kings of Comedy, Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer joined Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley on a four-man barnstorming road show that became a surprise nationwide hit. In 1999, The Kings of Comedy became the highest-grossing comedy tour ever to date in the United States, raking in more than $19 million. Harvey and his three sidekicks became national celebrities, a status only heightened by the release of Spike Lee’s 2000 documentary, The Original Kings of Comedy, which captured the highlights of a two-night show in North Carolina before a hugely enthusiastic audience. Fans who saw the show on screen felt the same way; the film, which cost only $3 million to make, eventually earned more than $38 million at the box office.
In 2000, he launched a daily talk radio show, The Steve Harvey Morning Show. Originally aired only in Los Angeles and Dallas, the show eventually gained national syndication and a New York City flagship. It now airs every day on dozens of stations nationwide. Harvey won Radio & Records magazine’s national Syndicated Personality/Show of the Year award in 2007.
Even while transforming himself into a major radio personality, Harvey continued to pursue work in standup and acting as well. The Steve Harvey Show on the WB went off the air after a six-year run in 2002, but Harvey soon took on other projects. He hosted a short-lived reality-show contest, Steve Harvey’s Big Time, which aired on the WB from 2003-05. He made his big-screen acting debut in a minor role in 2003’s The Fighting Temptations, then won larger supporting parts in You Got Served (2004), Johnson Family Vacation (2004) and (as a voice actor) in the animated Racing Stripes (2005).
Finally, and perhaps most unexpectedly, in 2009 Harvey became a bestselling author of relationship advice books. Growing out of a segment on his radio show in which he served up hilariously blunt advice to women callers frustrated in their relationships with men, Harvey’s books seem to be based on the general principle that men are dogs and women need to treat them accordingly. While critics dismissed Harvey’s advice as little more than a collection of overblown stereotypes, fans took to his blunt, comedic approach to self-help for the lovelorn. Both Harvey’s debut, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (2009), and its follow-up, Straight Talk, No Chaser (2010), broke onto bestseller lists.
In 2010, Harvey won another iconic TV role, taking over as host of the venerable game show Family Feud. On Family Feud, Harvey found a very agreeable niche. Not only does he get to flash his quick wit and try out new material on a nationwide audience, but he also gets to work with everyday people. “The producers are going, ‘Wow, you really know how to handle everyday people,’ and yeah, because really I just got this money I got recently,” Harvey explains. “I’ve been an everyday person for 38 years.” He enjoys appearing on screen alongside ordinary folks, saying he loves “watching regular people become stars for a day.”
A born-again Christian, Steve Harvey has been married three times. He has twin daughters, Brandi and Karli, from his first marriage, and a son, Wynton, from his second. He enjoys spending time with his large, blended family (his current wife, Marjorie Bridge Harvey, whom he wed in 2007, brought three previous children of her own into their marriage). Steve Harvey is also the proud head of a charitable organization, The Steve Harvey Foundation, which offers mentoring programs to young men.
Harvey explains his current focus on family and charity: “I’m 53, I’m thinking about the responsibility of being a father, and my listeners, and I’ve just gotten to a place where it’s got to be more than jokes. I know it sounds corny, but I’m starting really to think about my life in terms of ‘What are they going to say about me?’ Do I want it just to be said this guy was a king of Comedy? Well, it’s not enough. Been there, done that. The sense of wanting to do something meaningful is upon me now.”