Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents, Stanley and Judy Sandler. When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. He found he was a natural comic and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and college campuses. Sandler graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1988. Later in his career, he would draw on his earliest experiences for material for his comedy and movies. The song "Lunchlady Land" from his debut album "They're All Gonna Laugh At You!" is dedicated to Emalee, the lunchlady at Hayden Dining Hall at New York University.
In the mid- to late 1980s, Sandler played Theo Huxtable's friend Smitty on "The Cosby Show." He was a performer for the MTV game show "Remote Control," on which he made appearances as the characters Trivia Delinquent or Stud Boy. Early in his career, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother's urging when he was only 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles. Miller recommended him to "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show.
After becoming an SNL cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "Big Daddy," and "Mr Deeds." He has ventured into more dramatic territory. In 1999, Sandler founded Happy Madison, a film and television production company that has produced numerous films and developed the 2007 television series "Rules of Engagement."
Other notable movies include:
- The Waterboy
- Punch Drunk Love
- Reign Over Me
- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan
- Bedtime Stories
- Funny People
- Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2
- Just Go with It
- Jack and Jill
At one point, Sandler was in talks to star in Quentin Tarantino's World War II film Inglorious Basterds, which he confirmed, but he did not appear in it due to a scheduling conflict with Funny People. Following the release of Funny People, it, along with Punch-Drunk Love were cited in the June 2010 announcement that Sandler was one of 135 people (including 20 actors) invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
"Like Will Ferrell, Sandler has layers of tenderness under layers of irony under layers of tenderness—plus a floating anger like Jupiter’s great red spot," wrote David Edelstein of New York magazine in a review of You Don't Mess with the Zohan. "Some performers become stars because we can read them instantly, others—like Sandler—because we never tire of trying to get a fix on them."