Drew Carey is an only child, born to parents Beth and Micheal Carey. His childhood was not very interesting but he did finish highschool in Ohio.
Carey made a go at higher education at Kent State, but was expelled twice for poor grades, eventually dropping out before earning his degree. The experience deepened his depression, so Carey turned to drugs with no goals and even less hope for his future. In 1980, he joined the Marine Corp., hoping it would instill some self-discipline and confidence. The enlistment seemed to fulfill those dreams. He emerged six years later with a healthier and more positive outlook on life.
His comedy-bound career path began when a friend asked him to write some jokes for a local radio program. Having no experience in writing, he went to his library and read as much as he could on the subject. Eventually, he felt confident enough in his material to try it out before live audiences. A win at an open mic contest led to a steady gig as the emcee at the Cleveland Comedy Club. Soon afterwards, Carey's brand of humor - broad, bawdy, self-deprecating; but rooted in an everyman attitude - earned him live dates at comedy clubs across the country.
In 1988, he gained national exposure as a contestant on "Star Search" (syndicated, 1983-1995). Three years later, he was a featured talent on HBO's "14th Annual Young Comedians Special" (1991) alongside Jon Stewart and Richard Lewis. The following year, Carey's ascent to fame was assured when Johnny Carson gave him the rare honor of inviting him to sit on the guest couch after a performance on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1962- ). Within days, he was fielding calls from casting agents. His ascent to fame was perfectly timed, as he had reached the end of his savings.
After a successful Showtime comedy special, "Drew Carey: Human Cartoon" (1998) - which earned him a Cable Ace Award) - he made his first foray into acting with small roles in television series and movies like "Coneheads" (1993). These led up to a supporting part in the sitcom "The Good Wife" (ABC, 1994), an office comedy starring fellow stand-up John Caponera. The series lasted just 13 episodes before cancellation, but the experience proved invaluable, as it introduced Carey to former "Roseanne" (NBC, 1988-1997) writer Bruce Helford, who partnered with him to develop a sitcom based on Carey's persona and comedy.
The result was "The Drew Carey Show," which centered on the lives of nice guy Drew Carey and his friends - improv veteran Ryan Stiles and actors Dierdrich Bader and Christa Miller - and co-workers - Scottish comic Craig Ferguson and comedian Kathy Kinney as Drew's garishly dressed foil Mimi - as they endured their jobs while pursuing happiness and romance. A ratings hit during its early seasons, Carey and Helford found themselves stifled by the rigid format of a sitcom - to say nothing of Standards and Practices' requirements for "clean" humor. This led them to frequently break the ice with "special" episodes like "What's Wrong with This Episode?" which offered a prize to the viewer who could name all the deliberate mistakes in its running time, as well as a live episode that was performed twice for the East and West Coasts. A 2001 episode titled "Drew Carey's Rock & Roll Back to School Special" broke away from the storylines entirely, putting the characters through a string of skits that also included guest appearances by Jenny McCarthy, Amanda Bynes, and Eric Clapton. In addition to serving as executive producer for the series, Carey also wrote and directed several episodes.
Eventually, declining ratings and production costs spelled an end to "The Drew Carey Show." After nine years and 233 episodes, the series left the air in 2004. Carey, however, was not without work for long. He penned a best-selling autobiography, Dirty Jokes and Beer (1997), which revealed much of his troubled past, and in 1998, he hosted "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (ABC/ABC Family, 1998-2006), an improvisational game show that featured many of his "Drew Carey" castmates and fellow comics. The program proved popular enough to warrant a regular touring company of improv comics culled from the show's ranks, with Carey joining them on numerous live dates across North America.
In 2000, Carey's popularity allowed him to experiment with a variety of different performing venues. For the most part he met with success, showing off his vocal skills - which he had famously established by singing his sitcom's theme song, "Moon Over Parma," during the show's opening - as the title role in "Geppetto," a "Wonderful World of Disney" TV-movie based on the children's story of "Pinocchio." He also hosted the 2002 White House Correspondents' dinner, much to the delight of President George W. Bush. Carey also stepped into the wrestling ring for the World Wrestling Federation's "Royal Rumble," a 30-man elimination match, during which Carey offered money to his opponent and fled the arena. A longtime supporter of various charities in his home state of Ohio, Carey won $500,000 for the Ohio Library Foundation from an appearance on a celebrity edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" (ABC/syndicated, 1999- ), and competed in the World Poker Tour for the Cleveland Public Library charity in 2003. Even after receiving an honorary doctorate from Cleveland State University in 2000 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, he stated in an interview that his greatest award was a bobblehead doll in his own likeness from the Cleveland Indians for his unflagging support. Perhaps the only downside to this period was a brief health scare in 2001, when Carey underwent emergency open-heart surgery to repair a blocked artery.
In 2004, Carey returned to television to produce, host and appear in "Drew Carey's Green Screen" (The WB/Comedy Central, 2004-06), an improv show that shared much of the same cast and premise as "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" with one added concept: the skits were performed in front of a green screen, which would, unbeknownst to the performers, feature film footage and animation. However, the expense of the series spelled an early demise, even after Comedy Central showed its support by picking up the show after it was dropped by the WB. Carey also made several forays into feature films in 2005, providing a voice for one of the characters in "Robots" (2005) and contributing to three documentaries - the hilarious "Aristocrats" (about a long-standing and appalling in-joke in the stand-up world); "Fuck," which focused on the impact and usage of the word in comedy and everyday life; and "Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie" (2005), in which Ross documented Carey's trip to Iraq as part of the U.S.O. The latter picture highlighted one of the more controversial aspects of Carey's personality - namely, his conservative political leanings. In the late 1990s, Carey was frequently labeled as a Republican, but in subsequent years, he dubbed himself a Libertarian, who voiced support for such non-right-wing subjects as same-sex marriage, rights for homosexuals, and government regulation of drugs and cigarettes.
A longtime sports fan, Carey found time to produce and host "Drew Carey's Sporting Adventures" (The Travel Channel, 2006- ), which provided a look behind the scenes at the World Cup. Carey also enjoyed a side career as a sports photographer at numerous U.S. National Soccer Team events.
In 2007, Carey shot the pilot for "The Power of 10" (CBS, 2007- ), a game show which asked contestants to guess how Americans would react to polls about politics and popular culture. His tenure as host for that series was short-lived, as he was selected by CBS to replace Bob Barker as the host of "The Price Is Right," following months of speculation and names like Rosie O'Donnell and George Hamilton being bandied about to the press. His reaction to the position was typically Carey-esque - in an interview, he said that the idea of giving away prizes all day sounded like a particularly good job to him.