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Leif Garrett
Birth name Leif Per Nervik
Born November 8, 1961 (age 51)
Origin Hollywood, California, United States
Genres Pop rock, disco, power pop (earlier)

Alternative rock, hard rock (later)

Occupations Actor, singer, television peronality
Instruments Volcals, guitar
Years active 1966–present
Labels 20th centuary, Atlantic, Scotti Brothers, Tongue and Groove,Cleopatra, Golden Lane

Leif Garrett (born Leif Per Nervik; November 8, 1961) is an American singer, actor and television personality. He became famous in the late 1970s as a teen idol, but received much publicity in later life for his drug abuse and legal troubles.

Early life[edit]

Garrett was born in Hollywood, California to Carolyn Stellar and Rik Nervik, and started his entertainment career at age five. Garrett's father was absent for most of his life, but Garrett has since reconciled with him, stating "He feels so badly about missing the years when you know you’re so proud to have son, like from age 12 to manhood, when you help influence and guide your son’s life. Well, he missed out on all that stuff. He is regretting missing that and he now treats me like that." Garrett and his sister, Dawn Lyn of My Three Sons, worked a variety of small acting jobs. They co-starred in the horror movie Devil Times Five as juvenile mental patients who almost innocently go on a murder spree at an isolated ski resort. Dawn and Leif also guest-starred in an episode of Gunsmoke as well as Wonder Woman. In the first few years of his career Garrett performed under the name of "Leif Per", however casting agents found the name difficult to pronounce (Per is pronounced the same way as "pair" or "pear"). In 1971, Garrett received a check in the mail incorrectly addressed to a "Leif Garrett". After Garrett and his mother undertook research on the name, they found that the name "Garrett" held connotations of strength, so the name stuck.

Acting career[edit]

Garrett’s more notable performances include the breakthrough role of Jimmy Henderson in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969); the protagonist’s son Mike Pusser from the Walking Tall movies (1973, 1975, 1977) and the recurring role of Zack Russell on the ABC TV series Family. Leif also played the role of Leonard Unger, the son of Felix Unger (Tony Randall), on the ABC series The Odd Couple, a part that previously was played by Willie Aames.

In the fall of 1975, Garrett, at fourteen, appeared in the role of Endy Karras in a 12-week CBS drama series Three For The Road, with Alex Rocco as his father, Peter Karras, and Vincent Van Patten as his older brother, John Karras. The story line is that of a father and two sons, grief stricken over the death of their wife and mother sell their house, buy a recreational vehicle, and roam throughout the United States. Garrett’s appearance in the program triggered a response from teenage girls, and led to his first appearances in teenage magazines, such as Tiger Beat. Garrett also played alongside Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance in the Spaghetti Western God's Gun.

Music career[edit]

In autumn of 1976, Garrett signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records and recorded his first album, Leif Garrett. The album was released in 1977, and his first four singles charted modestly on the US Hot 100. All of these hits were covers of late 1950s and early 1960s hits such as "Runaround Sue." In mid-1978 he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and recorded his second album,Feel the Need. Its first single, "I Was Made For Dancin'", reached #10 on the US Hot 100 and #4 on the British chart in early-1979. It became his greatest hit in both the US and the UK.However, subsequent singles failed to crack the Top 20 in either country. Nevertheless, Garrett continued to record, releasing the albums Same Goes For You (1979), Can't Explain (1980) and My Movie of You (1981) in quick succession. In 1986 Garrett joined the Church of Scientology and provided lead vocals to the song "The Way to Happiness", as well as backing vocals to the title track of the L. Ron Hubbard album The Road to Freedom. However, Garrett left the church in 1992 after becoming a qualified Scientologist.

Return to acting[edit]

In the 1980s Garrett returned to acting, appearing in a small role as Bob Sheldon in the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film The Outsiders. In 1985 he starred in Shaker Run as a mechanic and in Thunder Alley as the lead singer of a pop band that is torn apart by drugs. Other notable Leif Garrett movies from the decade include Delta Fever and the horror film Cheerleader Camp.

Personal life[edit]

Beginning in 1979 Garrett dated English actress Nicolette Sheridan; the two split six years later. Two decades later, Garrett credited Sheridan for helping him at the start of his career, and said of her "She's a special person in my life." Garrett also dated celebrities such as his former Family co-star Kristy McNichol, Tatum O'Neal and Justine Bateman. In the 1990s Garrett was also in a long-term relationship with actress Elaine Bilstad, who died in 1999 of a heart problem unrelated to drugs. Of Bilstad, Garrett said: "The person that I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with passed away and that one hurt real bad. She was an angel. She was amazing to me — that someone of that much beauty, not only physically, but also in her heart and in her soul could be taken from here so quickly." In a 2012 interview he stated, "At 16 I always used to say that I never want to have a kid because I don’t want to bring it into this world. And I’ve kind of kept to that — but my paternal instincts have become very strong." He also expressed his wishes to adopt a child.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Chart singles[edit]

  • 1977 – "Surfin' USA" – US No. 20
  • 1978 – "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" – US No. 58
  • 1978 – "Runaround Sue" – US No. 13
  • 1978 – "The Wanderer" – US No. 49
  • 1979 – "I Was Made for Dancin'" – US No. 10, UK No. 4
  • 1979 – "Feel the Need" – US No. 57, UK No. 38
  • 1979 – "When I Think of You" – US No. 78
  • 1980 – "I Was Looking for Someone to Love" – US No. 78
  • 1980 – "Memorize Your Number" – US No. 60
  • 1981 – "Runaway Rita" – US No. 84

Uncharted singles[edit]

Other recording appearances[edit]

Garrett has also sung on releases by The Melvins (The Crybaby), The Crush Ups ("Betty Ford For X-Mas") and Liberty n' Justice ("Sight Unseen" on Soundtrack of a Soul), among others.

Filmography[edit]

Television work[edit]

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