An infamous non-believer, the talk show host, comedian and political agitator Bill Maher regularly skewers religion on his HBO show, Real Time With Bill Maher. Movie audiences can expect more of the same in his new documentary Religulous, which opens in select theaters Oct. 1 and across the country two days later.
52 years old
Born in New York City; raised in River Vale, New Jersey
Father was a radio newscaster and editor at NBC News. Mother was a nurse.
Studied literature at Cornell University
Notorious night owl and self-described control freak
Is a proud pot smoker and is on the advisory board of NORML, an organization that promotes legalization of marijuana
Has never married and says he is a "committed bachelor"
In 2004, former girlfriend Coco Johnsen sued him for $9 million, saying he promised to marry and support her. The lawsuit was thrown out by a California judge.
Loves dogs and has worked with PETA
Moved to New York after graduating from college, where he reportedly worked briefly as nanny, sold marijuana on the side and performed stand-up at clubs
Was a guest star on Murder She Wrote (1989-1990) and many other TV shows and starred in a movie called Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)
Made several appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, his childhood hero (1986-1991)
Moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and got his first major TV role in 1985 with a spot on the sitcom Sara, starring Geena Davis. The show was soon cancelled.
Created his first show, Politically Incorrect, in 1993. It premiered on Comedy Central and later moved to ABC. Maher called it "The McLaughlin Group on acid." Jerry Seinfeld was a guest on the first episode and the show became a huge Comedy Central hit.
Published a novel in 1994 and has written four other books
Said in 1996 that he would retire in 10 years
In a 1997 episode of the TV game show Pictionary, CHiPS star Erik Estrada accidentally hit Maher in the face, reportedly knocking him out briefly
The year after Politically Incorrect was cancelled (2002), launched Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO
Has been nominated for nearly 20 Emmys
Endorsed Bob Dole in 1996, Ralph Nader in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008
Has called himself a libertarian and supports the death penalty, but usually espouses liberal views
Got into hot water after Sept. 11 for saying, on Politically Incorrect: "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." (The show was cancelled several months later.)