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Famous Like Me > Actor > C > Del Close

Profile of Del Close on Famous Like Me

Name: Del Close  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 9th March 1934
Place of Birth: Manhattan, Kansas, USA
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Del Close

Del Close (born March 9, 1934, in Manhattan, Kansas; died March 4, 1999), along with Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin, is considered one of the premier influences on improvisational theater. An actor, improviser, writer, and teacher, he was a co-author of the book Truth in Comedy along with partner Charna Halpern, which contained techniques that are now common to long-form improvisational theater and described the overall structure of "the Harold" which remains a common frame for longer improvisational scenes.

Close began improvising and directing with the Compass Players, and later directed at The Second City. Along with Charna Halpern, he co-founded the ImprovOlympic. Acolytes of Del Close have gained prominence in the field of comedy with astounding frequency. At any given time, roughly a quarter of Saturday Night Live's cast has been composed of former Del Close trainees.

Close had a prolific career, appearing in a number of films and television shows. With John Brent he recorded the classic beatnik satire album How to Speak Hip (Mercury, 1959) which became a prized record for DJs worldwide and was one of Brian Wilson's favourite comedy albums. He also co-authored the horror anthology Wasteland for DC Comics. His favorite framework for comedic storytelling was the structures of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

He spent the 1980s and 1990s teaching comedy improv while slowly succumbing to the deterioration of past heroin use. Legend has it that his last words were, "I'm tired of being the funniest person in the room."

Close donated his skull in his will to the Goodman Theatre for use in Hamlet productions.


In 2005, Jeff Griggs published Guru, a book detailing his friendship with Del during the last two years of his life. Due to Del's poor health, Charna Halpern arranged for Griggs to spend every Thursday afternoon with Close and run errands with him. Guru gives a particularly detailed and complete picture of Del. At the beginning of their relationship, Griggs was a student of Del's, and the book includes various memorable chapters in which Griggs depicts Del as a teacher.

The book has been adapted into a screenplay, and as of August 2005, Harold Ramis is attached to direct the script; it is rumored that he wants Bill Murray to play Close.

  • Audio Interview with Griggs on The Sound of Young America: MP3 Link

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Del Close