Friday, February 22, 2008

Eddie Deezen – God of Nerds

You can hike up your pants, you can put tape on your glasses, you can wear suspenders, you can try to emulate the nasal laugh, you can hunch your shoulders and shuffle your squeaky Buster Browns through the local library – and you will not be half the nerd that is Eddie Deezen. There have been imitators and there will be more, but Eddie’s persona isn’t an act. He’s the quintessential nerd, as authentic as they come.

It all started with an underfunded sci-fi turkey called Laserblast (1978). This cult-classic would springboard Eddie into a slew of projects that showcased his unparalleled gift of nerd. He stalked the Beatles in I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) and joined John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease (1978). B-list director Steven Spielberg recognized his talents and in an inspired casting move invoked one of Eddie’s most bizarre performances. In the World War II satire 1941 (1979) Eddie plays war-weary kook Herbie Kazlminsky, brandishing a ventriloquist dummy that looks exactly like him (!).

A personal favorite is the cult-classic Midnight Madness (1980) starring David Naughton, with a cameo by Paul Reubens and featuring the debut of young Michael J. Fox. It’s a scavenger hunt flick that employs five teams of college student stereotypes: the heroes, the jocks, the sorority sisters, the wealthy nogoodnicks and Eddie’s team of nerds. Leon, the enigmatic engineer of the “Great All Nighter” scavenger hunt, pits the teams against each other as they cavort the greater Los Angeles area. The competition turns into a small scale war between the teams as they engage in food-fights and automotive sabotage. Eddie and his team of clones scoot around the city on their matching white mopeds, wearing uniform-like white shirts and helmets. Eddie, with his trademark gaping-mouth smile, leads his team through one humiliation after another, finally storming the lobby of the Bonaventure Hotel on their bikes in search of the finish line.

There were a few more notable film appearances such as Zapped! (1982) with Scott Baio and War Games (1983) with Matthew Broderick. But a few years later Eddie would find a home in television, briefly snooping around with Magnum P.I. and hanging out with Punky Brewster for a few episodes. This would lead him into a lucrative career in voiceover work.

Check out for a super nerdy fan club page run by Eddie Deezen himself, complete with trivia and quizzes about history and what-not.

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