Oscar Actors: Paymer, David–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 1, 2020
David Paymer Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance:

Social Class: upper middle; father pianist, mother travel agent

Family: Parent divorced in 1973, when he was 19



Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: The In-Laws, 1979; age 25

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Mr. Saturday Night in 1992; age 38

Other Noms: No

Other Awards: No

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output: Over 90 films

Film Career Span: 1979-present



Death: NA


David Emmanuel Paymer (born August 30, 1954) is an American character actor, comedian, and television director. He has been in films such as Mr. Saturday Night, Quiz Show, Searching for Bobby Fischer, City Slickers, Crazy People, State and Main, Payback, Get Shorty, Carpool, The American President, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Drag Me to Hell. Paymer was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1992 for Mr. Saturday Night. He played the lead role as the Boss in Bartleby, an adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” He played a mob boss in the television series Line of Fire.

Paymer was born in Oceanside, New York, the son of Sylvia, a travel agent, and Marvin Paymer, a pianist and musical director who originally worked in the scrap metal business. The two divorced in 1973.

Paymer is Jewish; his mother was born in Belgium and left for the US because of the Nazi occupation Paymer has a brother, Steve, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in theater and psychology.

Paymer is married to Liz Georges, with whom he has two children.

Paymer’s acting career began in 1979 with the film The In-Laws.

Paymer has appeared in over 90 films in his career.

He has also appeared in many popular TV shows, including Taxi, Happy Days, L.A. Law, Ghost Whisperer, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Entourage. He has had recurring roles on Cheers, Murphy Brown, and The Larry Sanders Show. He has also appeared in such films as Amistad, City Hall, RFK, and Into the West.

He received a Supporting Actor Award nomination for Mr. Saturday Night in 1992.

Paymer has also dabbled into the world of animation, lending his voice to the character “Sheldon” in the Kids’ WB cartoon series Channel Umptee-3 and in Balto 3: Wings of Change as neurotic Welsh Terrier Mel.

Paymer has directed episodes of several popular TV series, including Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Melrose Place, Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, and Bunheads.

He also appeared in a cameo for an AT&T commercial in 2011.