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Sacha Baron Cohen

(1971 - )

Sacha Noam Baron Cohen is an English actor, comedian, and writer best known for his comic personas Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, and Brüno.

Sacha Baron Cohen was born October 13, 1971 in England to Daniella (née Weiser), born in Israel, and Gerald Baron Cohen, originally from Whales. He was the youngest of three sons in an Orthodox Jewish family. Before university, he spent a year at Kibbutz Rosh HaNikra and Kibbutz Beit HaEmek with Habonim Dror. He went on to study history at Cambridge University and wrote his thesis on Jewish involvement in the American Civil Rights movement. At the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, Baron Cohen acted in plays such as Fiddler on the Roof (in which he played Tevye) and Cyrano de Bergerac. While at Cambridge, he performed in Habonim Dror Jewish theatre performances.

After leaving university, Baron Cohen worked for a time as a fashion model, appearing in many fashion magazines. In the early 1990s, he hosted a weekly program on Windsor TV until he was fired for broadcasting a lewd presentation for Valentine's Day. From 1995-1996, Baron Cohen had another television hosting job and later made his first feature film appearance in the British comedy The Jolly Boys' Last Stand.

Baron Cohen appeared during 2-minute sketches as his fashion reporter Brüno on The Paramount Comedy Channel during 1998. He shot to fame when his comic character Ali G started appearing on the British television show The Eleven O'Clock Show on Channel 4, which first went to air September 8, 1998.

In 2000, Da Ali G Show began airing and won the BAFTA for Best Comedy the following year. The show featured Ali G's interviews with famous people (often politicians) and gained notoriety partly because the subjects were not privy to the joke that Ali G, rather than being a real interviewer, was a comic character played by Baron Cohen. In 2002, Ali G was the central character in the feature film Ali G Indahouse and his television show was exported to the United States in 2003 (with new episodes set in America) for HBO.

Baron Cohen's feature film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan debuted in 2006. The film is about Borat's journey across the United States in an ice cream van, in which the main character is obsessed with the idea of marrying Pamela Anderson. The film is a mockumentary which includes interviews with various American citizens that poke fun at American culture, as well as sexism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, jingoism, and Baywatch. Baron Cohen also frequently speaks in Hebrew while playing the anti-Semitic Kazakh reporter character. The movie debuted at the #1 spot in the US, taking in an estimated $26.4 million in just 837 theatres averaging $31,600 per theatre, the fourth highest per-theatre average of all time for movies opening wide.

Another alter ego Baron Cohen performed as was Brüno, a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion show presenter. After an intense bidding war, Universal Pictures paid a reported $42.5 million for the rights to the Brüno, the movie, which debuted in 2009.

For his comedic work, Sacha Baron Cohen has received several Emmy nominations, an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA award, and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Baron Cohen was married in 2010 to Australian actress Isla Fisher, who converted to Judaism in early 2007. They have a daughter together named Olive Baron Cohen, born October 19, 2007.

Sources: The Baltimore Jewish Times, Wikipedia; Photo Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5. Author: Michael Bulcik / SKS Soft GmbH Düsseldorf.