Why The Face, Dear Old State?

Any fan of ABC’s recent hit sitcom “Modern Family” is familiar with TV’s latest “laugh out loud” character Phil Dunphy: the ultimate cool dad.  At first glance, viewers might recognize actor Ty Burrell from his roles in “Dawn of the Dead,” “The Incredible Hulk,” or even a couple episodes of “Law & Order.”  Those who know better, associate him with a long list of other notable Penn State University graduates.

Ty Burrell, 42, earned his M.F.A. from Penn State’s highly esteemed theatre department in 1997 after completing his undergrad at Southern Oregon University in 1993.  In an article written by Penn State graduate Vicki Glembocki for the Penn Stater Magazine, Penn State professor Barry Kur describes Burrell as having the “innate ability to deliver lines with a sense of truth.”

While comedy isn’t Burrell’s primary focus, it does seem to follow him in his daily life.  In Glembocki’s article, Burrell recounts his first tough audition: the University Resident Theatre Association audition for potential M.F.A.’s.  The day before the audition on a family ski trip, Burrell collided head first with a friend’s dog, leaving him with a black eye.  This proved to work out in his favor as Burrell stated, “it was such a lesson in auditioning; it’s so much better to have something wrong with you.”

Shaky confidence in hand, Burrell headed to Penn State in 1994 where he starred in Grapes of Wrath and Our Town, performed in a two-person show about AIDS called Lovely Planet, and also helped out with the intro-to-theatre class, Theatre 100.  He spent two summers on the professional side of things doing shows at the Pennsylvania Centre Stage.

A versatile actor who’s spent time on television, the silver screen, and off-broadway, Burrell is certainly a well-rounded scholar of his craft. His dedication has been recognized by Entertainment Weekly, who called Burrell this season’s break-out comic actor.  We wish Burrell the best of luck in the upcoming Emmy nominations and good wishes as he continues his way along the road to a long and successful career.

For more insight to Ty Burrell’s work as the endearing yet lovable Phil Dunphy check out this YouTube clip.

To continue reading about Ty’s personal background you can find Vicki Glembocki’s article here:



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