The Untold Truth Of Drew Carey

The word "icon" is probably used a little too liberally nowadays, but as the host of the longest running game show in the history of American television, it most definitely applies to actor and veteran comedian, Drew Carey. The bespectacled funnyman began his stint on The Price is Right back in 2007, taking over from the retiring Bob Barker. He's now just as synonymous with the game show as Barker is, but there's way more to Carey than just his TV work, which includes not only his hugely successful eponymous sitcom, but also his revival of another landmark TV game show of sorts, Who's Line Is It Anyway

The Cleveland, Ohio native has been on quite the journey since he decided that his future was in comedy, and at times his life has been far from a laughing matter. From dealing with tragic personal loss to the grim motivation behind his dramatic weight loss, we invite you to come on down and delve into the untold truth of Drew Carey. 

Where did Drew Carey's signature look come from?

Drew Carey was a military man before he became famous, serving in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1980 to 1986. "While in the Marine Reserves, I was looking for a way to make some more money, and it was suggested that I try using my jokes," Carey once said (via Military.com). "I think if I did not have such a great break, I would still be in the military." It was during this time that he adopted his signature crew cut and started wearing the black rimmed spectacles that became part of his image in the years that followed.

Although he's clearly carried parts of his military background with him, Carey played down his service during his Reddit AMA. "I don't like to make a big deal out of it," he said, before joking, "I kept the commies out of Ohio. We did a great job until the battle of Overland." But it clearly had a big impact on him and he gives back in the best way he can ⁠— with his comedy, which is what he said led him to leave the military behind. Carey has teamed up with the USO on numerous occasions, bringing smiles to the faces of troops stationed everywhere from foreign capitals to remote islands

Drew Carey went through some very dark times

Drew Carey smiles so much that it's hard to imagine him being anything other than happy and content, but that hasn't always been the case. The future star went through some serious mental health struggles in his late teens and early 20s, which apparently led to two separate suicide attempts. He opened up about the harrowing time in his life while speaking to Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell during a 2007 set tour (via Today). "I was depressed for a long time," Carey said, adding, "Living in Hollywood, you can get disconnected from everybody. You can feel like you are the only one. So you feel it, you hold it in and you don't let it go and you don't try to find help because you think, 'Oh man if I tell anybody, I'm going to seem like I'm weak."

Fortunately, Carey was able to find the right coping methods to deal with his struggles. "I learned how to believe in myself. Learned how to set goals, you know, self help books," he told O'Dell, adding, "I just read every single one I can get a hold of and I still do. ... I am always coming out bigger, better, stronger and happier." 

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

College graduation wasn't in the cards for Drew Carey

Speaking with Us Weekly, Drew Carey confessed that he "skipped [his] senior year of high school." But before you think, "Well yeah, he was probably the class clown who dropped out to pursue comedy," just wait. While he was the class clown, according to biographers Ann Gaines and Nancy Peacock, he didn't abandon academics until college. Carey actually did graduate from James Ford Rhodes High School, he just did it early thanks to his completion of "a senior English course" that he knocked out the summer after his junior year.

From there, the fresh-faced 17-year-old headed to Kent State University, where he didn't exactly focus on academics, and was "dismissed" after three years. "My first GPA in college was 0.5. That's half a D," Carey quipped to Us Weekly. It all worked out in the end, though, as Carey now holds honorary degrees from both Kent State and Cleveland State University.

From homeless to right at home on The Tonight Show

Dew Carey's transition from Marine Reserve to famous comedian didn't happen overnight. He was reportedly paid around $10 a joke for his first ever stand-up show. According to Cleveland.com, Carey then found work as a paid emcee at the now closed Cleveland Comedy Club in 1986, before moving to California to try and make it big the following year. But he quickly ran out of money and moved back to Cleveland: "I was once so broke, I had to give blood to get money for food," he told Us Weekly in 2013.

Carey returned to Hollywood and the touring comedy circuit, living mostly "out of his car" for over a year. His ultimate goal at the time was to appear on The Tonight Show — which he initially flubbed thanks to a missed the phone call. But Carey's desire to make it onto the stage with Johnny Carson watching never faded — and he even came to see the missed opportunity as "a blessing in disguise," as he told the AV Club. "I really wasn't good enough to headline then. ... My style hadn't developed yet because I was so new." When Carey finally made his Tonight Show debut on November 8, 1991, he crushed it, even scoring an invite over to the couch, which was Carson's famously silent seal of approval. Remembering the milestone, Carey said, "I've never been funnier than those seven minutes I was on The Tonight Show."

Drew Carey's weight almost killed him

Drew Carey lost his father to a heart attack when he was just eight years old, and at one stage, he believed he was going to go the same way. "I always thought I was going to die before I was 60," he told Parade magazine. "My father died of a heart attack in his 40s. I'm not an idiot. The writing was on the wall." At his heaviest, Carey weighed 262 pounds. He started dieting after he was diagnosed with heart disease and had to have a stent put in one of his arteries, but that went out of the window when his mother became terminally ill. "I remember being in Vegas and ordering a burger," he recalled. "When it didn't kill me, I started eating one every day and went back to my old habits."

The motivation he needed to get back on track came in the form of a child. When the comic became engaged to Nicole Jaracz, he realized that he wasn't even fit enough to play with her then-5-year-old son Conner without becoming seriously short of breath. "I couldn't keep up with him," Carey said. "I'd be like, 'Connor, I can't,' and he'd say, 'C'mon, Dad!' That was a terrible feeling. I thought, 'I'm never going to see him graduate high school.'" Carey then permanently joined the ranks of sitcom stars who transformed their bodies, and got serious about his weight. This time he achieved his goals. "Connor doesn't make fun of Dad's belly anymore," he said.

You probably won't find Drew Carey's step-son in a MAGA hat anytime soon

Drew Carey's step-son Conner made headlines in 2017 when he started a fire during a protest. The father and son were eating at a restaurant in Washington D.C. on the night of Donald Trump's inauguration, and they discovered that protests were happening nearby. "I was just down the street having dinner with my kid and he wanted to see it," Carey told TMZ, who interviewed the comic at the protest. Carey said he was in town to host the Veterans Inaugural Ball. What he didn't know at the time was that Connor was at the heart of the action. 

Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins interviewed Connor live at the scene of the (since extinguished) fire, and asked him about his participation with it. Connor replied, "I actually kinda started this fire... because I felt like it, and I'm just saying, 'Screw our president.'" The video went viral, but it wasn't until later that the kid was identified as Carey's step-son. According to sources, Carey and Conner's mom were both upset at what their son said, and so was the boy himself. He "regretted his choice of words," TMZ's insider said.

Under Drew Carey, The Price Is Right started to 'celebrate' and 'uplift' women

Before Drew Carey took over as the host of The Price is Right, the show featured models that would showcase the prizes and do little else, known as "Barker's Beauties." The whole show was given a face lift when Carey came in, but the changes ran deeper than that. According to former The Price is Right model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, the beginning of the Carey era was like a new dawn for the show's models. "When they had the change from Bob Barker to Drew Carey, we got a new producer and he was all for revamping everything," the British beauty told Fox News"We had a meeting about letting us be heard. I was very much determined to have that and I was happy it was received."

Osborne-Smith was so used to the old ways that she was terrified when she fell pregnant ("Being a woman in this industry, especially as a model where you're recognized for your body and face, it was really scary"), but she needn't have worried. "[Carey] was over the moon," she recalled. "He was very happy to have the opportunity, through me, to prove the type of man he was and how different he was than Bob Barker's era. He celebrates women and uplifts them." The model continued to work on the show, baby bump and all. She left to pursue new opportunities in 2017. 

It sounds like Carey is well worth every penny of the reported $12.5 million he makes per year hosting the iconic show. 

Drew Carey lost his former fiancée in a gruesome murder

Drew Carey was engaged to Hollywood therapist Amie Harwick for about a year. The pair split in 2018, but he still cared about her. When he learned that she had been killed following an altercation with an ex-boyfriend, Carey was devastated. "Amie and I had a love that people are lucky to have once in a lifetime," Carey said in a statement (via TMZ). "She was a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women, and passionate about her work as a therapist. I am overcome with grief. I would like to thank you in advance for giving myself and everyone who loved Amie privacy while we try to work through this tragic situation."

According to E! News, LAPD discovered an unresponsive Harwick lying underneath a third floor balcony when they responded to a report of a "woman screaming" in the Hollywood Hills. Harwick's roommate, who had to jump over a wall to get out of the property, told officers that Harwick had been attacked in her home. Harwick's ex-boyfriend, Gareth Pursehouse, was later arrested on suspicion of murder. Harwick had previously obtained a restraining order against Pursehouse, but it "had expired," and the two reportedly interacted "two weeks" before Harwick's murder. According to the coroner's report (via Deadline), Harwick died from "blunt force injuries of the head and torso." There was also "evidence of manual strangulation." She was 38.

Did The WWE Hall of Fame snub a diva for Drew Carey?

A handful of celebrities have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and that doesn't always sit well with pro wrestling fans. Future president Donald Trump was enshrined in 2013, but Drew Carey beat him to the punch ⁠— the comic was made a member in 2011. According to Bleacher Report, that was the year that original WWE Diva Sunny was enshrined, and fans expected the night to be all about her. When she was seemingly snubbed so Carey could make a speech, those in attendance let their feelings be known. Carey wasn't deterred. "I'm skinny, I'm good-looking, I'm rich ⁠— boo all you want," he reportedly said (via SB Nation Atlanta), adding, "I hope next year they induct Larry The Cable Guy."

It's not that wrestling fans have a problem with celebrity crossovers (the WWE has always done this and arguably wouldn't be as big as it is today without it), but in Carey's case, it didn't seem earned. He only made one WWE appearance, competing in the 2001 Royal Rumble for a total of two minutes and 54 seconds. He's the only celebrity to have ever entered the Rumble, but for many, that wasn't enough to make Carey (who revealed in his Reddit AMA that he did next to no training for his appearance) a Hall of Famer. 

Does the name Brooks Parkenridge ring a bell?

He earns his crust through comedy, but Drew Carey is also a passionate photographer. After taking a few classes he started working under the pseudonym Brooks Parkenridge (Parkenridge being a mashup of the intersection of Park Rd. and Ridge Rd. near his childhood home in Cleveland, Ohio), taking covert snaps of sporting events. Carey has always had a particular interest in soccer. In fact, he love the game so much, he bought an ownership stake in a team — The Seattle Sounders. 

His love of soccer and photography met head-on when he was offered the chance to take pictures at the FIFA World Cup, and he didn't hesitate ⁠— though he had one condition. "I always wanted to shoot sports," he revealed during an appearance on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. "One guy was really nice to me and let me shoot a lot ... he needed a photographer for the World Cup and he asked me if I would shoot the World Cup for him. I said I would only do it if I could shoot under a fake name so nobody could use my real name just to buy the pictures."

According to Carey's soccer club bio, Carey's sports photography was also "chronicled on a Travel Channel show entitled Drew Carey's Sporting Adventures and his photos have appeared in numerous publications.

Drew Carey is a Buddhist

Drew Carey grew up as a member of the Pentecostal church, but as he got older he found himself branching out and looking into other religions. The comedian finally settled on Buddhism, and even though he takes it seriously enough to have his own dedicated shrine in his home, he openly admits that he's not exactly a model Buddhist. "It's weird being a Buddhist and being the host of The Price Is Right, because one of the key things about Buddhism is to not have any attachment to things or want things," he said during a 2016 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. According to Carey, he still does something everyday that he ends up regretting. "I clearly don't use my shrine enough," he told Us Weekly.

His Pentecostal days might be behind him, but Carey still has good memories of those days. In fact, he once compared the atmosphere on the set of The Price is Right to a church gathering. "It really is like a spiritual [experience]," he told PBS's Tavis Smiley (via Reason).