Andy Richter

On this date in 1966, entertainer Paul Andrew Richter was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Glenda (Palmer) Swanson, a kitchen designer, and Laurence Richter, a Russian language teacher at Indiana University. He grew up in Ilinois, where he was Yorkville High School prom king (the school where future U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was accused and convicted of molesting his wrestling team members).

Richter’s parents divorced when he was 4, and his father later came out as gay. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and Columbia College Chicago as a film major. He worked as a production assistant on commercial shoots, took acting classes and started writing for television. After playing Mike Brady in “The Real Live Brady Bunch,” a staged version of the ’70s TV sitcom, he was hired as a writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” which debuted in 1993. He soon became O’Brien’s sidekick. The show aired until 2009 but Richter left in 2000 to pursue an acting career. 

His first major venture, Fox’s “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” was canceled after two mid-season runs. “Quintuplets,” also on Fox, lasted one season. His 2007 series, “Andy Barker P.I.,” was co-written and produced by O’Brien. NBC canceled the show after six episodes.

In 2009 he rejoined O’Brien on NBC as the announcer for “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” also writing and performing in sketches. When Jay Leno moved from prime time to again host the later “Tonight Show” time slot, Richter joined O’Brien on “Conan” on TBS in 2010. The series finale aired in June 2021. He started his own podcast, “The Three Questions with Andy Richter,” on the Earwolf network in 2019. Guests are asked: Where do you come from? Where are you going? What have you learned? 

In January 2017 he began hosting the ABC game show “Big Fan” produced by Jimmy Kimmel. Only four episodes aired, with guests Matthew McConaughey, Aaron Rodgers, Kim Kardashian West and Kristen Bell. He has also had numerous roles non-recurring roles in TV and film. “The Incredibly Inaccurate Biography of Andy Richter” is an Audible Original audiobook divided into “chunks” of his actual life. He was scheduled as a contestant on “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune Season 2” set to debut in September 2021 on ABC.

As of this writing, Richter holds the record for highest one-day score on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” He won $68,000 on the 2009-10 season’s “Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational” and donated his earnings  to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Richter was married to actress and writer Sarah Thyre from 1994 to 2019. Before divorcing, they had a son, William Oscar (b. 2001), and a daughter, Mercy Josephine (b. 2007). Richter is a supporter of Planned Parenthood. At a 2016 fundraiser in 2016, he referenced abortion services provided in 1992 for Thyre when they had split up and were undergoing personal difficulties.

Asked in 2002 about his religious beliefs, Richter said it’s not something he thinks about much “because I figure, what’s the point? I don’t know if it’s agnosticism. There are things that are beyond our comprehension, so why bother? That’s sort of my spiritual feelings. 

“When you pray, I don’t think anyone’s listening,” he added. “I don’t think there’s anybody sitting in the sky watching you. You’re on your own. All you have is other people around you, and how you treat them.” 

PHOTO: Richter at the 2017 Children’s Defense Fund’s “Beat the Odds” Awards  in Beverly Hills, Calif.; photo by Eugene Powers / Shutterstock.

Freedom From Religion Foundation