Stephen Colbert is best known as a comedian and presenter, most notably on his show, ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’. Before he landed his TV roles, though, where did the star spend his childhood?
Despite being born in Washington D.C., Stephen Colbert briefly lived in Maryland before moving to James Island, South Carolina, aged five. He grew up with his mother, father, and ten siblings, and the family was Irish Catholic.
Learn more about Stephen Colbert’s early life and his route into stardom.
His father worked in a medical school, while his mother took care of the home.
He grew up as the youngest of eleven siblings, with three sisters and seven brothers. “He’s always been the center of attention,” says his sister Elizabeth.
“On James Island, I lived on a dirt road,” he tells an interviewer. He speaks of the wild nature of his childhood, saying “We had alligators in the backyard, there were a lot of snakes. I spent all my time in the woods as a kid.”
He admits, however, that the area is now vastly different from the one he recalls.
The family is said to have fostered his passion for entertainment, with his mother encouraging him to take part in play-acting as a child. He went on to study theatre at Northwestern University.
The family suffered a tragedy when Colbert’s father was killed in a plane crash alongside two of his elder brothers, Paul and Peter, both in their teens at the time. Colbert was just ten years old.
In an interview with Oprah, he explains that much of his grieving took place several years after the incident when he began his college career. “I finally had time to be alone with the idea,” he explains.
A key moment in Colbert’s career was his surprise invitation to provide the comedy for The White House Correspondents Dinner.
“We hadn’t done even 50 shows,” he says. His jokes on the evening were not well-received by all, and this brought him national attention.
Life Off Camera
Life on TV and in private appear to be distinctly separate for him. “I’m called Stephen Colbert, I have a character called Stephen Colbert,” he says.
After his Catholic upbringing, he remains religious, though he accepts that his faith has faltered on occasions throughout his life.
“My habitual prayer is – whatever intentions I may have in my prayer, whatever I may offer up, I ask for ability to love.”
Colbert shares three children, Madeleine, Peter, and John, with his wife Evie. The couple married in 1993.
His wife joined him for parts of his Oprah interview in 2012, and has appeared on the ‘Late Show’. When asked what drew her to Colbert, she answers “So many things, how kind and generous he is, how smart he is”
She describes him as a romantic. In the early days of their relationship, when he had to learn to play the baritone horn for a role, he once serenaded her with the instrument outside her apartment.
Despite being one of America’s most recognizable faces, Colbert remains a family man at heart.
When asked what brings him joy, he responds, “the deepest joy would be with my wife and children.”
In regards to his career, he says that he intends, eventually, to retire ‘the other guy’, who is the alter ego he portrays on screen. “When it’s a chore,” he explains, will be the moment for him to call time on the character.
For now, however, he remains a staple of nighttime TV.