Skip to main contentSkip to footer

David Schwimmer - Biography

Best known for the role of Ross Geller, David Schwimmer has become an icon in American comedy

David Schwimmer - Biography© Eamonn M. McCormack
Bryony Gooch
US Writer
Updated: November 16, 2023
Share this:

If David Schwimmer were a kid today, he'd never have been able to watch Friends. The popular sitcom aired on Thursday evenings in the US and he and his sister were only allowed to watch TV on Saturday nights.

David Schwimmer's early life

David Schwimmer was born on November 2, 1966, in Queens, New York, to well-known lawyers Arthur Schwimmer and Arlene Colman-Schwimmer. The family soon moved to Los Angeles, where David attended Beverly Hills High School, whose alumni include Lenny Kravitz and Angelina Jolie. "At my high school, it was the norm for kids to get brand new BMWs for their 16th birthday," recalls the 6ft 2in star. 

"I remember going to my dad around my birthday, and I was like, 'Yes, this is it!'. Then my dad had this talk with me, and I wound up driving a big brown 1976 Chevy Impala. I couldn't park the thing it had to be docked. "But high school wasn't all disappointments. Encouraged by the praise of his school drama teacher, one summer David flew off to Chicago for an acting workshop and found his calling. "It was both enlightening and exhilarating," he says.

David Schwimmer's career

After graduating from prestigious Northwestern university, David and a group of friends founded Chicago's Lookingglass Theater Company. He remains a driving force in the troupe, which has since grown in both size and stature, despite his Hollywood commitments. Still struggling to make ends meet, the budding actor shuttled back and forth between Chicago and LA, taking bit movie roles here and there, before landing a part opposite Happy Days hero Henry Winkler in 1993's short-lived sitcom Monty.The following year the team behind Friends gave David a call. They'd remembered him from previous auditions and hoped to cast him as neurotic paleontologist Ross Gellar in their new sitcom. 

"They were looking for a nerdy Jewish guy," he jokes. "Of course, I was perfect." His on-again-off-again relationship with Jennifer Aniston's Rachel provided the long-running show, which ended in spring 2004, with some of its best moments both comic and dramatic and earned David numerous accolades including an Emmy nomination and a Screen Actors Guild award.

David had something of a comeback when he took on the role of Robert Kardashian in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. 

David Schwimmer's personal life

Riding the success of Friends, David once romantically linked to Aussie songbird Natalie Imbruglia took roles in some less-than-successful movies including The Pallbearer opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and 1998's Kissing A Fool. And while he didn't find movie stardom with Fool, he did find romance. He and actress Mili Avital met on the set of the comedy and fell in love. Yet although the two became engaged in March 2001, they parted that summer. He went on to date starlets such as American Pie actress Tara Reid and Spanish model Carla Alapont.

Click here for more news on David Schwimmer.

More Profiles

See more