February, 2014 Issue

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Jeffrey Tambor

images1 Jeffrey Tambor

While Jeffrey Tambor's name may not be commonly known in every household, his face is certainly a staple of multiple generations of TV and movie goers (he has 182 imdb credits 1977- present). He's best known for his parts in the cult classic "Arrested Development" and as Sid Garner in "The Hangover" series as well as his role in "The Larry Sanders Show" on HBO (which may be a bit early for this audience to remember but worth checking out).

Jeffrey has faced some daunting odds throughout his career, from dealing with alcoholism, family tragedy and overcoming other obstacles, he teaches students that anything is possible and no one should overlook their dreams.

With an extensive background as a teacher, he has the ideal experience to impart a message to college students and sits down with Campus Activities Magazine to discuss his program. "People come up to me afterward and say 'I had no idea you did this!' It just sort of happened to me," he says. "They ask me why I was doing this and I think it's because I am just trying to be useful. I have been a teacher for about 40 years in acting, but what most people in the college world don't know is that I taught there as well. I taught speech, theater and acting at Wayne State University for some time. I am very familiar with the academic world and I love it."

A large part of Jeffrey's talk is about achieving one's dreams and life not being a dress rehearsal, and he cites his story as a real world example of just how that can be accomplished. "I was headed in a direction I shouldn't have been," he says. "I wanted to be an actor but I found myself in the academic world and it finally hit me 'What am I doing here?!' It was fun and I loved my students but it wasn't what I really yearned to do."

He began touring in regional theater and eventually made his way to New York and Broadway. "My first movie was '...And Justice For All' with Al Pacino and from there all heck broke loose. I've had a pretty good shake of it since then."

Jeffrey's career has been interesting because it has kept him quite current. Even the college age folks of today will recognize him. "The young ones seem to know me because of this project called 'Arrested Development' which is very popular in that demographic. Here's this guy they know as 'Pop Pop' from the show talking to them about life goals, but it is a very humorous evening. I try to keep it light and very fun."

The response from the show has been all around fantastic for Jeffrey, even if it's a little hard to slap a simple label on. "People ask what it's about. They ask 'Is it about happiness?' I say 'I don't know, I'm the son of Russian/Hungarian Jewish parents, so I don't know a lot about happiness (laughs). It's about being effective in the's about talking to young kids who are just about to graduate about getting their dream done. Never settle. I have so many people who I have taught over the years who have succeeded, when they kept at it! Most people stop, most settle and that's a tragedy. Don't opt for more comfortable rooms, I am opposed to that and that's what my talk is about. It's about my pitfalls, I am not speaking from some high pedestal, it is very much about the mistakes I made in my life and how they can be learned from. I am very, very candid about that, and there are lots of laughs."

For more information on bringing Jeffrey Tambor to your campus, contact Flip Porter at American Program Bureau (800) 225-4575 or