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Artie Lange - Early life, MADtv, The Howard Stern Show

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Artie Lange was born and raised in New Jersey. His mother was a homemaker of Italian descent and his father, was a contractor of German and Native American lineage. His father was put on trial for counterfeiting money a mere two weeks following Artie’s birth, but was not given jail time.

In high school, Artie was a talented baseball player who became an All County third baseman. He spent free time working for his father who fell from a roof, breaking his back in 1985. His father became quadriplegic and died from complications due to the fall, although Artie holds the belief that his father may have committed assisted suicide.

Following high school, Lange was arrested for attempted bank robbery, though he claimed to have been trying to impress an attractive bank teller by passing her a fake holdup note. The teller, believing Artie was being serious, triggered the alarm. In 1987, his lawyer arranged for Lange to attend the Conneticut School of Broadcasting as part of a plea agreement. This was in combination to 25 hours community service and 2 years of probation. Though offered a radio job in Wyoming folowing his tenure at the school, Artie worked as a longshoreman in his hometown of New Jersey to help his family with bills. It was at this time that his budding stand-up comedy career began to soar.

MADtv

Artie landed his first big role as one of nine original cast members of MADtv in 1995. During this time, he became heavily involved in drug use, particularly cocaine usage.It was following a cocaine binge, that Lange’s run on MADtv came to an end. He was chased through several backyards and stores before finally being arrested for cocaine possession, assault on an officer and several other crimes. Famed music producer and MADtv executive producer, Quincy Jones stepped in on Lange’s behalf, arranging for Artie to continue on to the second season, but Lange fell back into drug use and was fired.

The Howard Stern Show

After a brief jail term and the completion of a drug-rehabilitation program, Lange was offered the role of comedian Norm McDonald’s half-brother in the 1998 movie Dirty Work. While promoting the movie, Lange met radio-show host Howard Stern and was eventually asked to take over the role of co-host in 2001. In 2005, Lange started missing work, prompting the belief that he was having a relapse- a belief that was proven to be true when Lange behaved intoxicated while on-air. Artie later admitted to using heroin during this time period, but has since claimed to be drug-free following the use of the prescribed medicine, Subutex to help him with his heroin dependency.

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