Adam Sandler has been a staple in American comedy for more than 30 years. And to think, being a comedian wasn’t even on his radar until his brother gave him the idea to perform at a Boston comedy club at age 17!
Sandler kept people laughing through the ’90s and 2000s, with hit films like “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer” and “The Waterboy.” In recent years, he’s earned acclaim for his work in more serious films like “Uncut Gems” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” while still turning out new comedies in his classic vein.
Think you know everything about this super-successful funnyman? Think again! We’ve rounded up some facts about Sandler that might even surprise fans that go back to his earliest days.
He’s Released Two Albums That Have Gone Double Platinum
Sandler’s 1993 debut comedy album, titled “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You,” was not only nominated for a Grammy but also was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, meaning it had at least 2 million sales. His second album, “What the Hell Happened to Me?,” went double platinum, too! In his career he’s released a total of six comedy albums, the most recent, “100% Fresh,” dropping in 2019.
He Was An R.A. In College
Sandler attended New York Univeristy, and served as a resident assistant to his fellow students during his time there. Bet you never would’ve guessed that he was so responsible after seeing him light bags of dog poop on fire in “Billy Madison”!
He Was On ‘The Cosby Show’ As A Teen
Sandler’s first regular Hollywood gig was on “The Cosby Show,” at age 18. He played Theo Huxtable’s friend, Smitty, who once very briefly dated Lisa Bonet’s Denise.
He Had A Regular Role On MTV
In the late ’80s, Sandler was a regular on MTV’s classic game show, “Remote Control,” which was the network’s first original program that didn’t focus on music. Other notable comics who had regular roles on the show include Colin Quinn and Denis Leary.
He’s Really Generous
In 2007, Sandler made news by donating $1 million to the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire. He’s also notably lent his talents to fundraising events for autism awareness and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for out-of-work comics.
Dennis Miller Helped Him Get On ‘SNL’
Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Dennis Miller suggested that the show’s head honcho, Lorne Michaels, check out Sandler. Sandler joined the show as a writer in 1990, becoming a featured player the following season and a full-fledged cast member in 1993, helping him reach his biggest audience yet.
He’s Really Popular On Netflix … Like, Incredibly
Netflix doesn’t release viewing numbers but, in 2014, the company signed Sandler to a contract to make four feature films for them, showing he’s got some serious clout with the streaming service. Apparently happy with the results, Netflix signed yet another deal with the comedian in 2017 for four more movies and then upped the deal again in 2020.
His Highest-Grossing Movie Is A Cartoon
Sandler has been a box-office draw for well over 20 years now, but his highest grossing movie so far has been 2015’s “Hotel Transylvania 2.” The movie earned $169.7 million in America alone, which is a domestic box-office record for him. Its sequel, “Hotel Transylvania 3,” earned $527.8 million worldwide, which is also a record for him.
He Was Fired From ‘SNL’
Sandler and Chris Farley, were fired from “Saturday Night Live” in 1995. Rumor has it that it was for mooning people and making prank calls from the show’s offices. Sandler told Howard Stern in 2015 that it was the NBC “top brass” who did the firing and not Lorne Michaels.
He’s Worth How Much?!
Estimates from various sources that track celebrity earnings place Sandler’s net worth at around $420 million. We can’t help but think that’s a figure one of his characters would find funny for some reason.
Neil Diamond Has Covered One Of His Songs
Sandler’s infamous “Chanukah Song” debuted on “SNL” on Dec. 3, 1994. It’s become a comedy holiday classic and even Neil Diamond has recorded a rendition of it.
He Was Judd Apatow’s Roommate
Before they both found fame and fortune, Sandler and director Judd Apatow shared a $900-per-month apartment in California. The pair notably collaborated in 2009 on the dark comedy, “Funny People,” which also co-starred Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann.
His Production Company’s Name Honors His Early Work
In 1999, Sandler founded his own production company, Happy Madison Productions. The company’s odd name comes from the titles of two of his earliest and most beloved movies, “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison.”
His Wife And Child Were In One Of His Movies
In the 2012 animated movie, “Hotel Transylvania,” Sandler’s real-life wife, Jackie, and his oldest daughter, Sadie, did the voices of his character’s late wife and young daughter.
He Was Almost In ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’
Did you know Sandler was considered to voice the part of the spitfire Rocket Racoon from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Of course, the part eventually went to Bradley Cooper.
His Fans Really, Really Love Him
If you’re a Sandler fan, this one may not be a big surprise. Sandler has won eight People’s Choice Awards in his career, including five consecutive trophies in the category of favorite comedic star/movie actor, from 2011 to 2015.
He Joined The Hollywood Walk of Fame Quickly
In 2001, his star became star number 2,431 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Happy Days” star and Sandler collaborator Henry Winkler spoke at the dedication ceremony. It was less than a decade following his debut on “SNL” as a cast member.
His Movies Once Made $400 million In 16 Months
Sandler became a massive box-office draw in the late ’90s. In a span of 16 months, from February 1998 to June 1999, he released three movies (“The Wedding Singer,” “The Waterboy” and “Big Daddy”) that grossed more than a combined $405 million in America alone. His box-office dominance continued through the 2000s.
His Wife Converted To Judaism Before They Got Married
As you may have guessed from his enthusiasm in singing the “Chanukah Song,” Sandler was raised Jewish. His wife, Jackie, converted to Judaism in 2000, three years before the couple tied the knot. L’chaim!
He Gets Stage Fright
Sandler told Howard Stern in 2015 that he still gets anxiety about performing live. “On ‘Saturday Night Live’ I was always better at dress rehearsal because in my brain I knew no one was seeing that one,” he said.
He Made One of the Worst-Reviewed Movies Ever
It’s not surprising that some of Sandler’s movies have been flops (hey, you can’t win ’em all!) but one has been universally panned by critics. In fact, it actually holds a score of 0% on the movie rating site, Rotten Tomatoes. This means that not a single critic measured by the site liked 2015’s Netflix-exclusive “The Ridiculous 6,” which he starred in, wrote and produced.
He Actually Hit Those 6-Year-Olds With Dodgeballs
In “Billy Madison,” Sandler took creative control of the hilarious, albeit somewhat controversial, dodgeball scene in which he decided to actually hit his fellow child actors with dodgeballs, instead of just pretending.
“There’s a dodgeball scene, and I’m hitting all these first graders really hard with a dodgeball … I hit some kid pretty hard and he gets upset and he starts crying,” he recalled during a 2017 interview on “Conan.” “The parents come up to me and they’re like, ‘That’s a kid. You nailed that kid!’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, no. That’s the scene!’ I said, ‘Didn’t they read the script?’ and they go, ‘They’re 6, they don’t read yet.’”
He Made Netflix History
Although critics loathed “The Ridiculous 6,” it still made history for Netflix. In it, Sandler plays an outlaw raised by Native Americans who finds out he has five half-brothers. The gang, which features Terry Crews, Taylor Lautner and Rob Schneider, set out to find their father. In 2016, it was declared to have had the biggest debut of any Netflix original movie ever, being watched the most times in its first 30 days on the service.
His Dad’s Temper Influenced His Work
Adam Sandler’s dad, although an electrical engineer rather than an entertainer, influenced him to become a comedian. Sandler has said that his father had a temper, which ultimately led Sandler to develop a sense of humor to help calm him down. Sandler now has two children himself, daughters Sunny and Sadie.
He Looks Out For His Friends
Sandler frequently recasts his real-life friends in his films. Vulture once added up how many Sandler films all his buddies have appeared in. At the time, Allen Covert topped the list, with 15 roles in Sandler productions including “Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer,” “The Waterboy” and “Mr. Deeds.” A close second was Rob Schneider who’d been in over 11, including “50 First Dates,” “The Longest Yard” and “Grown Ups.”
Almost Nobody Saw His First Movie
Sandler’s first movie, “Going Overboard,” in which he plays a struggling stand-up comic named Shecky Moskowitz aboard a cruise ship that ends up getting attacked by terrorists, was a total flop. The 1989 film also featured Billy Zane and Billy Bob Thornton. Though it didn’t do well initially, it was made widely available on home video in an attempt to cash in after Sandler became popular.
He Was Almost In ‘Collateral’
The part of Max, the cab driver, in the 2004 Tom Cruise movie, “Collateral” was written with Sandler in mind. However, after director Michael Mann reworked the script, the role went to Jamie Foxx, who earned an Oscar nomination for it. After seeing him in “Uncut Gems,” maybe Sandler could’ve actually played the Cruise role!
Some Believe His Films Are All Linked
YouTuber Shawn Kohne has a theory that every Adam Sandler movie is connected in some type of way and moreover, each movie takes place in the same universe (aka the Sandlerverse). To back up his claim, Kohne refers to the same characters, jokes and props that pop up in multiple films, all starting with the movie “50 First Dates.” Whether or not this is entirely true, the theory is pretty entertaining.
He Has A Say In Who Wins Oscars
In 2010, Sandler was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This means he gets to vote on the Oscar winners each year. Zoe Saldana, U2, Anna Kendrick and more were also accepted into the academy that same year.
He Met His Wife Through Rob Schneider
Adam first met his longtime wife, Jackie Titone, an actress and model, on the set of the movie “Big Daddy.” They have Rob Schneider to thank for the introduction, as he had worked with her on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.” Schneider apparently introduced her to Sandler while he was casting for “Big Daddy,” and Sandler offered her a role. They started dating soon after and married in 2003.