VetFamily: Patton Oswalt, Comedian and Son of a Marine

Patton Oswalt

Most of America knows Patton Oswalt, the television and stand up comedian, from The King of Queens, Two and a Half Men, and now The Goldbergs. But few know that he was named after legendary U.S. General George S. Patton, thanks to his Marine Corps Officer father.

Oswalt, with his signature wit, once tweeted his Dad “USMC Col. Larry J. Oswalt (Ret.) -- a jet fighter man and continuing awesome dad. Thank you for fighting for my right to whine.”

Similarly, with pride and admiration on Veterans Day 2012, he tweeted "Happy Veteran's Day, Dad. You hung tough while all the other dads on the block let the swinging 70's wash 'em away. L. Oswalt, USMC." Semper Fi.

“I was named for General Patton, and I have actually, because of my narcissism, read up on him quite a bit,” said the self-proclaimed military brat in an interview with National Public Radio. “My dad was a Marine, and we moved around a lot when I was little, and he gave me the first name Patton, I'm assuming with very high hopes.” Born and raised in Virginia, he later graduated with an English degree from the College of William and Mary.

Patton had said about performing comedy “I think I realized it was an art form at the beginning, but it took me a really long time before I was able to view what I was performing myself as an art form.”

In addition to TV and film, he has also done stand-up comedy, and even a few albums, with subjects ranging from current events to fictitious comic book characters. His success has led to work with other top-notch comedians such as Blaine Capatch, David Cross, Rob Gasper, Bobby Tisdale, and Todd Barry. Although he is passionate about comedy, his focus has shifted from standup to television and movies. His most recent album, Annihilation, was released on Netflix in 2017.

In television, Patton has been stereotyped as “the geek.” His most famous role was the nerdy friend of the lead character, Doug, played by Kevin James on the hit show The King of Queens. Now he is the nerdy business partner of Ashton Kutcher’s character Walden, on Two and a Half Men. He has also done voiceovers for hit cartoon movies such as Ratatouille. He also appeared in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a 2013 comedy drama directed by Ben Stiller, and will be performing a starring voiceover role in The Secret Life of Pets 2, based on the hit original, due out in 2019.

As for pets, Patton holds dogs very dear to his heart. He used to have a French bulldog Grumpous, who was featured in Time magazine and helped Oswalt land a role in the movie Young Adult. With characteristic passion, he worked through PETA to make it illegal for people to chain up their dogs. Patton believes that when dogs are chained up, they are more likely to be aggressive, "Forcing man's best friend to exist in the same barren patch 24/7 deprives these highly social pack animals of proper socialization and the opportunity to move around and explore."

He’s won critical acclaim, most recently winning a Primetime Emmy and Grammy for his 2016 Netflix special Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping.

In April 2016, Patton suffered the passing of his spouse, Michelle McNamara, who died unexpectedly in her sleep. Coroners attributed her untimely death to undiagnosed heart condition that contributed to her accidental drug overdose. She had died while pursuing the Golden State Killler, later identified as Joseph James DeAngelo. Her book, entitled I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was posthumously updated and finalized by Oswalt and Paul Haynes, and ultimately published in February 2018. It chronicled the horrific string of sexual assaults and murders in California during the 1970s and 1980s.

“This book had to be finished,” he said in a telephone interview with the New York Times when the book was published. “Knowing how horrible this guy was, there was this feeling of, you’re not going to silence another victim. Michelle died, but her testimony is going to get out there.”

Just three months after her book was published, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested. McNamara’s work was believed to have played a role in helping identify DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer.

(Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

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