Ed Begley Jr.
Ed Begley Jr.
Edward James “Ed” Begley, Jr. is an American actor and environmentalist.
He was born on September 16, 1949 in Los Angeles, Calif., the son of Allene Jeanne Sanders and Academy Award winning actor, Ed Begley, Sr., He grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he attended Stella Niagara Education Park Cadet school in Lewiston. In 1962 the family moved back to California, where he graduated from Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks, California and Los Angeles Valley College in North Hollywood, Ca.
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Begley, Jr. first came to national prominence in the television series St. Elsewhere and received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich. Comfortable doing films, television and theatre, he found success in all three arenas. Among his many TV shows are Mary Hartman, 7th Heaven, Arrested Development, Six Feet Under, Scrubs, Boston Legal, Star Trek: Voyager and The West Wing. On the big screen he’s appeared on Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For your Consideration, as well as provided the voice of Boba Fett for the radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi.
Stage credits include his role in David Mamet’s Cryptogram in Boston, New York City and Los Angeles. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2003, Begley Jr. wrote and directed the musical Cesar and Ruben at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles. The play was revived in 2007.
In addition to his acting career, Begley Jr. is a passionate environmentalist – noted by his first electric vehicle in 1970, a Taylor-Dunn (golf cart style vehicle) and going vegan. He has been recycling before many other eco-celebs were born and has owned a wind turbine since the 1980’s. He has chaired the Environmental Media Association and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and has served on the boards of the Thoreau Institute, Earth Communications Office, Tree People, Friends of the Earth, End hunger Network, Farm Sanctuary, Heal the Bay, The Humane Society, Solar Electric Light Fund and Solar Neighbors Program, among others.
The self-sufficient Begley home is a modest 1,585 square feet running on solar energy. It also uses wind power via a PacWind vertical-axis wind turbine; an air conditioning unit made by Greenway Design Group, LLC. In an interview on The Tonight Show in 2008, Begley said he pays around $300 a year for electric bills.
Arguing that the suburban lawn is environmentally unsustainable, especially due to water shortage in Southern California, he has converted his own to a drought-tolerant garden composed of native California plants. Though he is noted for riding bicycles and using public transportation, he owns a 2003 Toyota RAV4 EV, an electrically powered vehicle.
Continuing his green initiatives, Begley Jr. appeared on an episode of The Simpsons, by showing himself using a nonpolluting go-cart that is powered by his “own sense of self-satisfaction.” He appeared in the Earth Day edition of The Price is Right where he announced the final showcase, which included an electric bicycle, a solar powered golf cart and a Toyota Prius. Begley Jr. was featured during The Jay Leno Show’s Green Car Challenge as well.
He has received the prestigious Thomas Alva Edison Award for Energy Independence from the American Jewish Congress, the first of this award to be presented. Begley Jr. has been a leader in this field and was recognized in November 2007 for his lifelong work in environmentalism. Furthering his pursuit of sustainability is Begley’s Best, his line of natural home cleaning products. Made from ingredients like olive seeds, maize and extracts of pine and palm, these cleaners are nontoxic, non-caustic, biodegradable, vegan and child-safe.
The HGTV reality show Living with Ed chronicles him and his wife, Rachelle Carson, focusing on their pursuits in off-grid sustainable living. The show’s production uses hybrid vehicles and recycles materials and films with solar-powered cameras. His latest acting endeavor is on the CBS sitcom Gary Unmarried. Since 2008 he has appeared in a series of DirecTV commercials as a “Cable Corp.” executive.
Text by Purvi Gajjar
Photo: Getty Images