Fred Armisen

On this date in 1966, Fereydun Robert “Fred” Armisen was born in Hattiesburg, Miss., to Hildegardt Mirabal Level, a teacher, and Fereydun Herbert Armisen, who worked for IBM. His mother was born in Venezuela and his father was born in Germany to a German mother and Korean father.

His parents met at the University of Southern Mississippi and moved to New York shortly after he was born. They spent two years in Rio de Janeiro before settling on Long Island, where the skills Armisen would later exhibit as an actor, comedian, writer, producer and musician were nurtured.

His first forays into entertainment were in music as a drummer with the punk rock group Trenchmouth and then the Blue Man Group. He joined “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in 2014 as music director and frequent leader of the house band 8G (named after an NBC studio). As of this writing in 2023, he is still show music director and drummer.

Armisen joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2002 and was a cast member for 11 years. Only Meyers and Darrell Hammond have had longer tenures on the show as of 2023. He landed what one interviewer called roles as “feral foreigners” in comedy films such as “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Deck the Halls,” “The Rocker,” “Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”

He co-created and co-starred with Carrie Brownstein of the Sleater-Kinney band in the sketch comedy series “Portlandia” that spoofed the reputation of Portland, Ore., as a haven for eccentric hipsters. It debuted in 2010 and ran for eight seasons on the Independent Film Channel. It won a Peabody Award and a Writers Guild of America Award. He and Brownstein also collaborated on ThunderAnt comedy projects.

He has directed music videos for various groups and has had numerous voice-acting roles. He was the recipient in 2015 of Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts.

Armisen was married to English singer-songwriter Sally Timms from 1998-2004 and to “Mad Men” actress Elisabeth Moss from 2009-11. Moss described their time together as “extremely traumatic, awful and horrible.” According to Us Weekly, “They had issues,” one of which was her ties to the Church of Scientology. “Her religion was as important to her as their marriage, if not more,” one person told Us. “He could not get with it.” (Us Weekly, Sept. 21, 2010)

PHOTO: Armisen arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of the action film “Baby Driver” in June 2017; photo.

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