Michael McDonald

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McDonald, Michael 1964- (Michael James McDonald)


Born December 31, 1964, in Fullerton, CA. Education: University of Southern California, graduated; trained in improvisation with Groundlings.


Agent—Jeff Witjas, Agency for the Performing Arts, 405 South Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager—Mark Schulman, 3 Arts Entertainment, 9460 Wilshire Blvd., 7th Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actor, director, writer, voice performer, and comedian. Groundlings, member of company, 1992-97. Also worked as second unit director. Worked as a loan officer at a bank in Los Angeles; also worked as a kindergarten aide.

Awards, Honors:

Writers Guild of America Award nominations (with others), best comedy—variety series, 2004, 2005, both for Mad TV.


Film Appearances; As Michael McDonald:

(Uncredited) Full Contact, Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1993.

First welfare worker, The Unborn II (also known as Baby Blood II), New Horizon, 1994.

Tierney, Criminal Hearts, Libra Home Entertainment, 1995.

Young cop, Hideaway, TriStar, 1995.

(Uncredited) Henchman flattened by steamroller, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (also known as Austin Powers—Das Schaerfste, was ihre majestaet zu bieten hat), New Line Cinema, 1997.

Montgomery, Richie Rich's Christmas Wish (also known as Richie Rich: A Christmas Story and Richie Rich'$ Christmas Wish), Warner Home Video, 1998.

NATO soldier, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (also known as Austin Powers 2: The Spy who Shagged Me), New Line Cinema, 1999.

Economics professor, Slackers (also known as Les complices), Screen Gems, 2002.

Royal guard, Austin Powers in Goldmember (also known as Austin Powers: Goldmember), New Line Cinema, 2002.

Maitre d', Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (also known as Dickie Roberts: (Former) Child Star), Paramount, 2003.

Andy, Outing Riley, Wolfe Releasing, 2004.

Mitch Henderson, Moonpie, Film and Music Entertainment, 2006.

Film Appearances; As Michael James McDonald:

Henry, Dance with Death, Concorde, 1991.

Clean-cut john, Uncaged (also known as Angel in Red and Vice Zone), RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, 1991.

Rainy, Final Judgement, Concorde-New Horizons, 1992.

Nick, In the Heat of Passion (also known as Heat of Passion), Concorde, 1992.

Squirrely, Body Waves, New Horizons Home Video, 1992.

Waiter, Leprechaun 2 (also known as One Wedding and a Lot of Funerals), Trimark Pictures, 1994.

Bartender, In the Heat of Passion II: Unfaithful (also known as Behind Closed Doors and Unfaithful), Concorde-New Horizons, 1994.

Evil hypnotist, No Desert, Dad, Till You Mow the Lawn, Libra Home Entertainment, 1994.

Psychiatrist, Revenge of the Red Baron (also known as Plane Fear), New Horizons Home Video, 1994.

Mr. Smith, The Crazysitter (also known as Two Much Trouble), New Horizons, 1995.

Reporter, Baby Face Nelson, Concorde-New Horizons, 1995.

Evacuation team pilot, Carnosaur 2, Concorde-New Horizons, 1995.

Stoned kid, Twisted Love, Concorde-New Horizons, 1995.

Running officer, Bloodfist VII: Manhunt, New Concorde, 1995.

Police officer Wilson, Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (also known as Primal Species), New Horizons, 1996.

Dack, Chump Change, Miramax, 2000.

Film Director:

(As Michael James McDonald) The Crazysitter (also known as Two Much Trouble), New Horizons, 1995.

Television Appearances; Series:

Member of ensemble, Mad TV, Fox, 1998-2008.

Voice of Gandhi, Clone High (also known as Clone High U.S.A.), MTV, 2002-2003.

Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Bravo, multiple appearances, between 2005 and 2008.

Television Appearances; Movies; as Michael James McDonald:

Disc jockey, Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation, Fox, 1992.

Party guest, Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love, Fox, 1994.

Dancer, A Bucket of Blood (also known as Dark Secrets, The Death Artist, and Roger Corman Presents "Buckets of Blood"), Showtime, 1995.

Corey, Ground Zero (also known as Assault at Ground Zero and Bloodfist VI: Ground Zero), HBO, 1995.

Disoriented man, Virtual Seduction (also known as Addicted to Love), Showtime, 1995.

Prostitute, Sawbones (also known as Prescription for Murder and Roger Corman Presents "Sawbones"), Showtime, 1995.

Sarcastic protestor, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, 1997.

Spike-Stretch, Casper Meets Wendy, 1998.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Host, Banned in America: The World's Sexiest Commercials, Fox, 1999.

Heroes of Comedy: Women on Top, Comedy Central, 2003.

Mad TV Holiday Show '04 Special Edition, Fox, 2004.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

All Grown Up, CBS, 2003.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 2001 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 2001.

Presenter, The Teen Choice Awards 2002, Fox, 2002.

Presenter, The 56th Annual Writers Guild Awards, Starz Encore Group, 2004.

The 2004 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic; As Michael McDonald:

The guy, "Alone Again … Naturally," Ellen (also known as These Friends of Mine), ABC, 1997.

Instant Comedy with the Groundlings, FX Network, 1998.

Reg, "The Emperor," Just Shoot Me!, NBC, 1998.

Parking attendant, "From the Earth to the Moon," The Drew Carey Show, ABC, 1998.

Voices of RoboDad and crew member, "The Nightmare Begins," Invader ZIM (animated), Nickelodeon, 2001.

Voice of RoboDad and electronic voice, "Parent Teacher Night/Walk of Doom," Invader ZIM (animated), Nickelodeon, 2001.

Face in the pool, Passions (also known as Harmony's Passions and The Passions Storm), NBC, 2001.

Mike Davis, "My Day Off," Scrubs, NBC, 2001.

Mike Davis, "My Blind Date," Scrubs, NBC, 2002.

Mike Davis, "My Case Study," Scrubs, NBC, 2002.

Hollywood Squares (also known as H2 and H2: Hollywood Squares), syndicated, 2002.

Leo Kornelly, "The Singing Mailman," Greg the Bunny, Fox, 2002.

Pyramid (also known as The $100,000 Pyramid), syndicated, 2003.

Sam Rascal, "Big Butts," Fat Actress, Showtime, 2005.

Sam Rascal, "Hold This," Fat Actress, Showtime, 2005.

Edward Jameson, "Helpful," 7th Heaven (also known as 7th Heaven: Beginnings), The WB, 2005.

Edward Jameson, "Soup's On," 7th Heaven (also known as 7th Heaven: Beginnings), The WB, 2005.

Edward Jameson, "And Baby Makes Three," 7th Heaven (also known as 7th Heaven: Beginnings), The WB, 2006.

Talkshow with Spike Feresten, Fox, 2006.

Masseur, "The Demuler," Lovespring International, Lifetime, 2006.

Steven, "Silly People," Desperate Housewives, ABC, 2006.

Voices of RoboDad and Irken crew member, "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars," Invader ZIM (animated), Nickelodeon, 2006.

Voice of RoboDad, "Mortos der Soulstealer/ZIM Eats Waffles," Invader ZIM (animated), Nickelodeon, 2006.

Dr. Toilet, "My Conventional Wisdom," Scrubs, NBC, 2007.

Mr. Cropper, "My Manhood," Scrubs, NBC, 2008.

Paul, "Spit Take," My Boys, TBS, 2008.

Television Appearances; Episodic; As Michael James McDonald:

Manager, "Buds 'n' Buns," Family Matters, 1993.

Phil, "The Past Comes Back," The John Larroquette Show (also known as Larroquette), NBC, 1993.

Second player, "The Understudy," Seinfeld, NBC, 1995.

Jesse, "The Wig Master," Seinfeld, NBC, 1996.

Lee, "Airport," NewsRadio (also known as The Station), NBC, 1997.

Television Director; Movies:

(As Michael James McDonald) A Bucket of Blood (also known as Dark Secrets, The Death Artist, and Roger Corman Presents "Buckets of Blood"), Showtime, 1995.

Television Director; Episodic:

Mad TV, Fox, 2004.

"The Replacements," 7th Heaven (also known as 7th Heaven: Beginnings), The WB, 2006.

"My Conventional Wisdom," Scrubs, NBC, 2007.

"My Manhood," Scrubs, NBC, 2008.

Segment director for Mad TV, Fox.


Screenplays; As Michael James McDonald:

Revenge of the Red Baron (also known as Plane Fear), New Horizons Home Video, 1994.

The Crazysitter (also known as Two Much Trouble), New Horizons, 1995.

Television Movies; As Michael James McDonald:

A Bucket of Blood (also known as Dark Secrets, The Death Artist, and Roger Corman Presents "Buckets of Blood"), Showtime, 1995.

Alien Avengers (also known as Roger Corman Presents "Alien Avengers" and Welcome to Planet Earth), Showtime, 1996.

Alien Avengers II (also known as Aliens among Us, Roger Corman Presents "Alien Avengers II", and Welcome to Planet Earth II), The Movie Channel, 1998.

Television Episodes:

Writer for Mad TV, Fox.

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Michael McDonald

Soul singer

Soul singer Michael McDonald has a unique and immediately recognizable voice that has soared through pop, rock and R&B hits for four decades. Unlike many artists, he has enjoyed sustained success while retaining his personal sound and values. His Grammy Award-winning performances blend rock, adult contemporary, and R&B.

McDonald was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Like many young people of his generation, he grew up listening to the soul sounds of Motown. On the website for World Hunger Year, a cause he supports, McDonald said, "I grew up around guys who were well versed in all the soul singers, and ended up playing with lots of them in bands. I remember thinking, at a young age, 'These are the kinds of records I'd love to make someday.'"

In 1970 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, and one of his first gigs was as backup key-boardist for the group Steely Dan. He continued backup work for various groups until 1975, when Tommy Johnston, lead vocalist of the Doobie Brothers, became ill. The group chose McDonald to take Johnston's place, and the decision led the band to new heights. His rendition of "What a Fool Believes" won the band a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and his "Takin' It To the Streets" became a 1970s anthem.

McDonald soon became known as the signature voice of the Doobie Brothers, but by 1982, the year of the band's first farewell tour, he wanted to pursue a solo career. He has since reunited with them for special events, particularly Rockin' Down the Highway: The Wildfire Concert, released in 1996.

In 1983, his first year on his own, McDonald won another Grammy for his duet with James Ingram, "Ya Mo Be There." After this initial hot start, he slowed down, producing only three albums over the next 15 years. He was not inactive, however, but lent his unique voice to backup work for many other artists, including Patti LaBelle ("On My Own") and his sister, Maureen McDonald ("I Keep Forgettin"). Over the years he has also appeared with Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, The Winans, Amy Holland, and his former bandmates in Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. His immediately recognizable baritone could propel a song to success, and other musicians came to rely on him.

McDonald moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in the late 1990s. The town was buzzing with a new musical sound, a blend of soul, gospel, and folk, and McDonald found it a good fit for his own style and interests. Producer Tommy Sims was at the forefront of this musical energy, and McDonald persuaded him to produce a new album, Blue Obsession, described in Soultracks.com as "the most overtly soulful and spiritual album of his career." However, record label red tape delayed release of the album for almost three years. It finally appeared in 2000 on the Ramp label, to little fanfare. A Soultracks writer commented that this was "a tragedy, as Blue Obsession was clearly the album for which McDonald's fans had been waiting." The reviewer praised the songs and their "lyrical depth," noting that they "were the best of his solo career" thus far.

In 2001 McDonald released a Christmas album, In the Spirit. In 2002 he began working on a new project: recording cover songs of the great 1960s Motown hits, the songs that had influenced his youth and his career; the album Motown was released on the Motown label. He approached the songs with characteristic reverence and respect, not as an outsider taking pieces of others' success, but as an homage to the songs and their original artists, in hopes of bringing a new generation back to the Motown sound that he had always loved.

Interestingly, the album was recorded in Europe, with European musicians. McDonald told Henrik Bohm and Jan Bau in Blue Desert that the reason for this was because "Americans have lived with these songs for decades and feel that these songs can only be performed by the original artist," and Europeans did not have these preconceptions about how the songs should be played. He noted that when the Beatles played in the United States, they had done some Smokey Robinson songs, "and the audience loved it." This hope evidently came true, because the album soon became McDonald's biggest success in twenty years.

Recording the album was a joy for McDonald, because of his deep love of the music. On the website for World Hunger Year he wrote, "It was probably more fun that I could ever have realized for all kinds of reasons." He added, "Certain projects, you feel like you're pulling teeth. Other times you think, 'This has to be good on some level because it's just too much fun not to be.' This has been one of those kinds of projects." He also noted that he was most proud of the album because it "makes obvious, one more time—for the 150th time probably—just how great these songs are, no matter who is singing them." McDonald toured through Europe as part of the promotion for Motown and found that the audiences there were very enthusiastic about the music.

For the Record …

Born in St. Louis, MO, in 1952; married Amy Holland, 1983.

Released That Was Then, 1982; If That's What It Takes, 1982; No Lookin' Back, 1985; Take It to Heart, 1990; Blink of an Eye, 1993; Rockin' Down the Highway, 1996; Blue Obsession, 1997; In the Spirit, 2001; Motown, 2003; Motown II, 2004; The Ultimate Collection, 2005.

Awards: Grammy Award for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Arrangement of Accompanying Vocals, for "What a Fool Believes," 1979; Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, for "Minute by Minute," 1979; Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for a Duo or Group with Vocals, for "Ya Mo Be There," 1984; received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, 2003.

Addresses: Record company—Motown Records, 1755 Broadway, 6th Fl., New York, NY 10019.

Two of the tracks on the album, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" were featured in commercials for MCI. However, McDonald told an interviewer on the Artists Against Hunger and Poverty website that "in terms of the way that I tend to judge the success of an album, commercial success is an appeal, but not always the key ingredient." He was more pleased by the opportunity to "show respect to the original performers and their original performances."

The album was nominated for a Grammy. McDonald followed it with a sequel, Motown Two. A Soultracks reviewer noted, "The good (and surprising) news is that the sequel may be even better than its predecessor." And, as McDonald told the Artists Against Poverty and Hunger interviewer, "At some point there might even be a Motown Three," adding, "It's just such a rich and resourceful wellspring of wonderful copyrights and wonderful songs and incredible performances to go to school on."

Selected discography

That Was Then, Arista, 1982.
If That's What It Takes, Warner Brothers, 1982.
No Lookin' Back, Warner Brothers, 1985.
Take It To Heart, Reprise, 1980.
Blink of an Eye, Warner Brothers, 1993.
Rockin' Down the Highway: The Wildfire Concert, 1996.
Blue Obsession, Ramp, 1997.
In the Spirit: A Christmas Album, MCA, 2001.
Motown, Motown, 2003.
Motown Two, Motown, 2004.
The Ultimate Collection, 2005.



Entertainment Weekly, December 12, 2003.

People, December 6, 2004.


Artists Against Hunger and Poverty Website, http://www.worldhungeryear.org/comm_conn/m_mcdonald.asp (June 27, 2006).

"Interview with Michael McDonald," Blue Desert, http://www.bluedesert.dk/mcdonaldinterview.html (June 27, 2006.

"Michael McDonald Biography and Update at Soul Tracks," Soul Tracks, http://www.soultracks.com/michael_mcdonald.htm (June 27, 2006).

"Michael McDonald Embodies Soul, Professionalism in Music," Nashville City Paper, June 13, 2006, http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/index.cfm (June 27, 2006).

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McDonald, Michael

McDonald, Michael , the voice behind The Doo-bie Brothers’ second coming, and one of the great blue-eyed soulmen of the 1980s; b. St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 12, 1952. By the time he was 11, Michael McDonald started playing in local bands, working his way through the club circuit to a recording contract with RCA that sent him to Los Angeles when he was 20 years old. When the records stiffed, he started doing session work, landing a semi-permanent place with Steely Dan, playing keyboards and singing harmony vocals. In 1978, studio guitarist Skunk Baxter had joined the Doobie Brothers. When their leader Tom Johnson fell ill, Baxter suggested they hire McDonald. He and Baxter moved the band in a more Steely Dan-ish direction with hits like “Minute By Minute,” “What a Fool Believes,” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.” (For more see Doobie Brothers entry.)

When the Doobie Brothers broke up in 1982, McDonald released a solo album, If That’s What It Takes, which went gold and rose to #6, largely on the strength of the #4 hit single, “I Keep Forgetting,” a loose rewrite of an old 1960s hit written by Lieber and Stoller for Chuck Jackson. McDonald had a minor hit with the title track from his 1985 album No Looking Back. While his subsequent albums were commercial disasters (to the point that he quipped A&R people would rather see “[me] walk down the hall with explosives strapped to my body than another record in my hand”). However, he did have great success with other artists, reaching #19 in 1984 with “Yah Mo B There,” a duet with James Ingram, and topping the charts and going gold with the 1986 Patti LaBelle duet “On My Own.” He reached #7 on his own that year with “Sweet Freedom,” the theme from the Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines film Running Scared. In 1987, he joined the Doobie Brothers on a reunion tour. In 1991, he toured with Donald Fagan’s N.Y. Rock and Soul Review, and was featured on the album culled from the tour. He continues to have success as a songwriter, studio musician, and producer. Early in 2000, he was honored with a tribute concert that featured the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Ray Charles, Pattie LaBelle, James Ingram, Toto, Christopher Cross, Boz Scaggs, and other performers who had benefited from McDonald’s artistry in the studio.


That Was Then (1982); If That’s What It Takes (1982); No Lookin Back (1985); Take It to Heart (1990); Blink of an Eye (1993); Blue Obsession (2000).

—Hank Bordowitz