Jeff Pillars - bio
…just the facts….
Jeff Pillars was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At an early age he developed a love for pro wrestling, monster movies, writing, acting and most anything bizarre, offbeat and unusual. His young library was filled with books by Robert Ripley and Ivan Sanderson. Quite a puzzlement to his Midwestern middle class parents and his athletic younger brother. Jeff graduated from Plainwell High School in 1976 and went on to become an accomplished actor, writer and creative whirlwind. Just ask him.
Jeff’s first role in theatre was the voice of “Ed Sullivan” in a high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie”. After High School, Jeff became an extraordinarily in-demand stage actor. At 20, he locked down the coveted role of “Dr. Watson” in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” at Kalamazoo’s premiere theatre “The New Vic” under director Ted Kistler and became one of the youngest company members in the theatres long history. After a long association with the Vic, Jeff moved on to appear in over 100 professional stage productions in various regional theatres around the country, winning awards for roles in “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?”, “Sherlock’s Last Case”, “The Sunshine Boys” and “The Foreigner”.
TV AND FILM
Jeff got his first big movie after he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1983. He was signed by the best known talent agency in town but felt he was being left out of some important auditions. So, when the agency didn’t include him in the auditions for the Richard Pryor movie, “Critical Condition”, he went on his own and was cast by director Michael Apted (“Nell”; “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) and flew off to New York City for a memorable time on an unfortunately forgettable movie. A bizarre twist of fate brought him to commercial and film director, John R. Cherry III, creator and director of the “Ernest” movies and wound up co-starring in “Ernest Rides Again” in Vancouver, BC, and writing and co-starring in “Ernest in the Army” in Cape Town, South Africa. Jeff spent a lot of time in South Africa working on two more films, “Pirates of the Plains” and “The New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love or Mummy” which he also wrote. Jeff has appeared in over 50 films and TV shows, working with actors like Tim Curry, Rip Torn, Brooke Shields, John Leguizamo, Dylan Walsh, Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper, Dee Wallace Stone, Andy Griffith, Wesley Snipes, Bronson Pinchot, Jim Varney, Gaillard Sartain, Joe Mantegna, Richard Chamberlain, Cindy Williams, Donna Mills, Michael Ontkean, Louise Fletcher, Dean Stockwell, Brian Benben and Jeffrey Tambor.
Jeff has voiced, literally, thousands of local, regional and national commercials for radio and television. For the last six years, Jeff has been the voice of one of “The Windex Crows” for SC Johnson and recently became the official voice of Daytona International Speedway. On camera, Jeff worked with his partner, Duke Ernsberger, as “The Executive Guys” for “Ernest” creator, John R. “Buster” Cherry.
Jeff began dropping in on “The John Boy & Billy Big Show” in the 90’s. His offbeat sense of humor and love of comedy meshed perfectly with the boys. After finishing a movie in South Africa, Jeff decided it was time to start spending more time at home with his rapidly growing daughter, Haley. He struck a deal with John Boy & Billy’s manager, Ed Lowe, and starting in 2001, Jeff began full time duties on the Big Show. His cast of regular characters include Karl Childers, Ike Turner, John Boy’s Butler Cadbury, Billy’s Uncle Buddy, The Redneck Whisperer, Oliver, The Grumpy Old Man and many more.
Jeff has written and performed four popular and big selling comedy albums during his tenure at “The John Boy & Billy Big Show”; “Potted Meat I & II”; “Big Ol’ Hairy Christmas Album”; and most recently “Ike at the Mic”.
Marshall M. Silverman - This guy is a serious honcho in show biz. A former bigwig with Warner Brothers for twenty some odd years, Marshall’s resume is as astounding as his list of Hollywood pals. Jeff shares Marshall’s rolodex with guys like George Clooney, Tim Burton, Matt Damon and some guy name Steve Spielberg. Not too shabby. Marshall is a true friend and trusted confidant, a rare commodity in the entertainment business. He also loves a good steak.
Leo Penn - After being cast twice in “Matlock” episodes by Leo Penn, father of Sean Penn, he was taken under the veteran TV director’s wing and became fast friends. Jeff gained valuable insight into the “business end” of show business through Penn.
Edgar J. Scherick - Industry legend, Edgar J. Scherick produced such films as “Sleuth”, “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3” and the original “The Stepford Wives”. Jeff met Scherick when he co-starred in his production of “The Stepford Husbands” for CBS. Scherick was so impressed with the dailies, he contacted Jeff to see if he was interested in doing a sitcom pilot. Sadly, the plans came to a halt when Scherick suffered a stroke. He never stopped believing in Jeff and three months before his death, suffering from Leukemia and in frail health, took him to producer/manager Bernie Brillstein’s office for a meeting. His valuable insights and myriad of contacts stay with Jeff to this day.