|September 9, 1971|
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Born on Sept. 9, 1971 in Kansas City, KS, Stonestreet never imagined he would one day make a name for himself in Hollywood. He grew up raising pigs on his family's farm and the only inkling he had of a career in entertainment was a childhood dream of becoming a clown. By age 11, he was wearing clown suits made by his grandmother and performing one-man shows at local parties and senior citizen centers. After two failed auditions at Barnum and Bailey Clown College, Stonestreet attended Kansas State University and majored in Sociology. He studied to become a prison administrator, but a friend's dare led him to a very minor role in a campus theater production of "Prelude to a Kiss." Though it was a small part, his stage debut inspired Stonestreet to pursue a new direction. His new venture brought him to Chicago, where he where he trained with Improv Olympic and The Second City, two of the Windy City's most renowned theater troupes.
The western branch of Improv Olympic welcomed Stonestreet with open arms, allowing him to perform with the group. The improv stage exposed the actor's talent enough that and he began booking commercials and minor television roles. In 1999, he made his series acting debut on "Dharma and Greg" (ABC, 1997-2002), starring Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as a couple working out their personality differences - she is a New Age hippie; he is a conservative preppie - after getting married following their first date. Stonestreet acted on several hit shows in the early 2000s, including the family sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06), the political comedy "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002), and the medical drama "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009). He also enjoyed a scene-stealing appearance in a hilarious Pepsi advertisement with former Presidential nominee Bob Dole that aired during the 2001 Super Bowl. Slowly but surely, the actor graduated to feature film acting in 2000 with a minor role (as a desk clerk) on the Cameron Crowe-directed drama, "Almost Famous."
His acting career reached new heights after Stonestreet was cast in a recurring role on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." He played Ronnie Litre, a forensic science technician who is constantly amazed by the technology implemented at the crime lab. In 2007, Stonestreet appeared in the short film "Vinny's Vault" as part of the Steven Spielberg/Mark Burnett-produced reality competition series, "On The Lot" (Fox, 2007), which pitted aspiring filmmakers vying for a development deal at DreamWorks studio. Fox pulled the plug on the series after just one season due to poor ratings and lack of critical support. With television audiences becoming more familiar with his work, Stonestreet guest-starred on several award-winning series, including "The Mentalist" (CBS, 2008- ) with Simon Baker, "Monk" (USA, 2002-09) with Tony Shalhoub, and a controversial 2009 episode of "Nip/Tuck," in which he played Wesley Clovis, an obese prisoner who underg s liposuction prior to his execution.
Stonestreet returned to his comedic roots after being cast on the quirky series "Modern Family." The show followed a multi-generational family headed by patriarch Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), and his two grown children Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Claire (Julie Bowen). Stonestreet played Mitchell's partner Cameron, and together they raise an adopted Vietnamese girl named Lily. The couple's opposing personalities - Cameron being flamboyant and bubbly while Mitchell is low-key and uptight - became one of television's most memorable and nontraditional pairings, accepted by both straight and gay viewers. The show also incorporated a bit of Stonestreet's past in his character, revealing he was once a classically trained clown named "Fizbo." The sitcom's blend of documentary-type narrative with likeable and offbeat characters made it one of ABC's most highly-rated programs, and consequently made Stonestreet into a household name.
Hot off the heels of the success of "Modern Family," the actor appeared on the 2010 independent comedy "Father vs. Son," about a newly divorced man forced to live with his single son. That same year, Stonestreet was pleasantly surprised to win an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, besting co-star Ferguson who was also nominated. To add more luster to the evening, "Modern Family" ousted Emmy favorite "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ) to take home Outstanding Comedy. During the show's second season, Stonestreet earned more accolades after nabbing a Golden Globe nod in late 2010 and Emmy nods in 2011 and 2012 - both of which pitted him not just against Ferguson, but also co-stars Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill. He took home the award in 2012, beating out the aforementioned.