Patrick Warburton lept into pop culture consciousness as David Puddy, Elaine's on-again, off-again boyfriend on the hit sitcom Seinfeld in 1995, and has since then steadily found his deadpan talents in ever-greater demand. With his squinty eyes and hard-boiled detective's voice, Warburton has become a humorous personality who can generate giggles with almost no effort, whether onscreen or in voice-overs.
Warburton was born on November 14, 1964, in Paterson, NJ, and raised in Southern California, a son of little-known television actress Barbara Lord. The future Bugle Boy model studied marine biology at Orange Coast College, where he met his wife, Cathi, before dropping out to pursue modeling and acting at age 19. In his first screen appearance, the 17th century slave film Dragonard (1987), Warburton was subject to what is thought to be the longest onscreen flogging on film, a 100-lash scene that consumes nearly four minutes of screen time. He also appeared in the sequel, Master of Dragonard Hill (1989), before turning his attention to television.
Warburton had guest spots on such shows as Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and Quantum Leap before scoring a recurring role on the short-lived Dave Barry sitcom Dave's World in 1993. But it was not until he appeared in the 1995 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Fusilli Jerry" that Warburton really started to attract attention. As Puddy, Jerry's lunkhead mechanic who spits out dialogue in macho spurts, notably the catchphrase affirmation "Yeah that's right," Warburton quickly became a popular semi-regular, involved in a running joke about his frequent breakups and reconciliations with Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He stayed with the show until it finished in 1998, and provided the voice for Superman in a series of commercials starring Seinfeld.
Warburton had another recurring role as unscrupulous businessman Johnny Johnson on News Radio in 1999, then contributed his memorable voice to characters on the animated shows Family Guy, Hercules, and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. By this time the big screen was really beckoning, as Warburton flexed his comic talents as a bodyguard in Scream 3 (2000), then toned them down as an American astronomer in Australia in The Dish (2000). His voice was again called upon, this time by Disney, for the role of a sorceress' thug assistant in The Emperor's New Groove (2000).
Going zanier than on Seinfeld, Warburton signed on as the star of the Fox sitcom The Tick, about a muscle-bound but dimwitted superhero in a blue costume, which premiered in the fall of 2001. High-profile projects in 2002 would include a role in the delayed ensemble farce Big Trouble and as Agent T alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men in Black 2.