On this day in 1966, the actor David Schwimmer, best known for his starring role on the mega-hit TV sitcom Friends, which originally aired from 1994 to 2004, is born in Astoria, Queens, New York.
Schwimmer was raised in Southern California and attended Beverly Hills High School. He graduated from Northwestern University and went on to co-found the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago. In addition to stage work, Schwimmer’s early acting credits include guest roles on TV shows such as The Wonder Years, L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. The dark-haired actor’s big break came when he was cast in Friends, a half-hour comedy about the careers and love lives of six young adults living in New York City. Schwimmer played Ross Geller, a neurotic paleontologist and the older brother of the obsessive-compulsive Monica Geller (Courteney Cox Arquette). One of the show’s key storylines involved Ross’s on-again, off-again romantic relationship with Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Monica’s high school friend and current roommate who, for a time early in the series, worked as a waitress at Central Perk, a coffee shop that served as a gathering spot for the six friends.
Friends, which debuted on September 22, 1994, on NBC, became a massive hit and a pop-culture icon, propelling Schwimmer and the five other main cast members—Aniston, Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry—to Hollywood stardom. The show inspired fashion and hairstyle trends (notably Aniston’s layered cut, known as “The Rachel”), as well as such catchphrases as “How you doin’?” and “We were on a break.” After 10 seasons, the final episode of Friends aired on May 6, 2004; more than 50 million viewers reportedly tuned in, one of the all-time largest audiences for a TV finale. (By comparison, the most-watched last episode in TV history, the l983 finale of M*A*S*H, drew some 106 million viewers, while the last episode of Seinfeld, in 1998, was seen by over 76 million people.)
In addition to his work on Friends, Schwimmer has appeared in such movies as
The Pallbearer (1996), with Gwyneth Paltrow; Six Days Seven Nights (1998), with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche; Picking Up the Pieces (2000) with Woody Allen and Kiefer Sutherland; and HBO’s critically acclaimed World War II miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). Schwimmer played the title role in the 2005 film Duane Hopwood and voiced the character of Melman the Giraffe in the animated feature Madagascar (2005).