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Charles Esten

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Charles Esten

Charles Esten
Esten in May 2014, in New York City.
Born Charles Esten Puskar III
(1965-09-09) September 9, 1965
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater College of William and Mary
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Patty Hanson (1991–present)
Children Taylor, Addie, Chase

Charles Esten Puskar III (born September 9, 1965), known professionally as Chip Esten and Charles Esten, is an American actor, singer and comedian.

Esten is best known for his role as Deacon Claybourne on ABC's Nashville (2012–present). He previously appeared on the improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Whose Line Is It Anyway? 2.1
    • Other comedy work 2.2
    • Film appearances 2.3
    • Television 2.4
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Comedy Shows 4.1
    • Television 4.2
    • Films 4.3
  • Discography 5
    • Singles 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Esten in September 2005.

Esten was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Alexandria, Virginia at age 9 after his parents divorced;[2] he and his younger sister were singlehandedly raised by their mother.[3] His late father, Charles "Chuck", was a prominent local businessman and business partner of former Pittsburgh Steelers Center (American football) Ray Mansfield.[4]

Esten attended T.C. Williams High School and his parents' and sister's alma mater, the College of William and Mary, where he was a brother of Theta Delta Chi fraternity and graduated with a degree in economics in 1987.[3] At William and Mary, he was the lead vocalist in the band N'est Pas from 1985 until 1988. Following graduation, Esten moved to the United Kingdom to make his theatrical debut, playing the title role in the musical Buddy in the early 1990s.


Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In 1992, the makers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? asked him to audition for an episode, which he did successfully. Consequently, Esten made his debut on the Channel 4 show in the fourth series and "won" the episode. He subsequently appeared in more episodes later the same year when the show did a run in New York. At the time, the show needed a second specialist improvisational singer to fill in for Mike McShane.

Esten made his final appearance in the UK edition in 1994 before moving back to the US and playing the role of Luke in Party of Five. Although appearing on stage and screen thereafter, it was his 1999 return to Whose Line Is It Anyway?—in the show's new-look American format, with Drew Carey as host—which established him with a mainstream American audience. He was a regular "fourth contestant" on the show, and because of his singing abilities was often paired with series regular Wayne Brady on musical games.

Other comedy work

Following his return to Whose Line Is It Anyway, Esten made a guest appearance as himself with fellow regular cast members from the show Wayne Brady, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood on The Drew Carey Show. In 2003, he hosted a semi-scripted semi-improvised comedy mini series called On the Spot. Between 2004 and 2006, he was a member of the touring group Improv All-Stars[5][6] and recurring cast member on Drew Carey's Green Screen Show. In 2011, he was a regular on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.

He, Proops and former colleagues Ryan Stiles and Jeff Davis regularly team up and tour around the country doing live improv under the name Whose Live Anyway?. In April 2014, Esten ceased work with Whose Live Anyway?, and was replaced by Joel Murray.

Film appearances

In 2001, Esten appeared in Billy Crystal's TV movie 61* as Kevin Maris, the son of legendary New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris.

Esten had small roles in three Kevin Costner movies, The Postman, Thirteen Days as downed U-2 pilot Major Rudolf Anderson, and Swing Vote.

Esten also starred in a public service video, "Riding Straight", produced for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's curriculum, Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding and Street Skills (MRC:RSS). Esten portrayed a surfer dude, a snuff-dipping hick, and a concerned friend in a bar.


Esten has appeared as a guest star in various TV series, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Star Trek: Voyager, ER, NCIS: Los Angeles, Jessie, The Mentalist, and The Office.[7]

He also appeared as a contestant on at least 4 (12/13 through 12/16/88) episodes of the game show Sale of the Century, credited as Chip Puskar, having won about $34,000 in cash and prizes. An appearance on Scrabble followed in 1990 during its final week.

In 2014, Esten appeared as a celebrity contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and won $500,000 for his charity, tying him with Rosie O'Donnell, Drew Carey, and Norm MacDonald for the most money won by a celebrity in one appearance on the show.

He played Kelly's fiance' Lonnie on Married... with Children in the series' finale in 1997. He currently plays Deacon Claybourne on Nashville.

Personal life

Esten is married to Patty,[8] whom he met in college.[3] They resided in Sherman Oaks, California with their daughters Taylor and Addie and son Chase.[4] The family moved to Nashville after Esten was cast as a series regular on Nashville.


Comedy Shows

Year Show Role Notes
1992, 1994 Whose Line Is It Anyway? (UK version) Performer 5 episodes
1999–2005 Whose Line Is It Anyway (U.S. version) Performer 39 episodes
2004–05 Drew Carey's Green Screen Show Recurring performer 8 episodes
2011 Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza Regular performer 32 episodes


Year Work Role Notes
1988 Sale of the Century Himself/Contestant 4 episodes
1989 On the Television various 5 episodes
1990 Scrabble Himself/Contestant 1 episode
1993 Cheers Unnamed Marine 1 episode
Star Trek: The Next Generation Divok 1 episode
1994 Murphy Brown Secretary #67 1 episode
1995–96 The Crew Randy Anderson 21 episodes
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Dathan 1 episode
Diagnosis: Murder Joe Carter 1 episode
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Ethan Press Episode 75 "Stop the Presses"
1997 JAG Lieutenant Pete 'Pistol' Ayers 1 episode
Married... with Children Lonnie 2 episodes
1998–2000 The Brian Benben Show Chad Rockwell 7 episodes
1999 Jesse Tad 1 episode
Jack & Jill Nick Seraph 1 episode
Providence Ted Shannon 1 episode
2000 Party of Five Luke 7 episodes
2000–01 The Drew Carey Show Himself (guest appearance) 2 episodes
2002 The Guardian Mark Hanson 1 episode
2003 On the Spot Himself (host) 5 episodes
Dragnet Carl Savitsky 1 episode
Just Shoot Me! Jake 1 episode
2004 NYPD Blue Tim Keating 1 episode
Cold Case John "The Hawk" Hawkins 1 episode
2006 The Office Josh Porter 7 episodes
2007 Help Me Help You Willis 1 episode
The Winner Gary 1 episode
The New Adventures of Old Christine Joe Campbell 2 episodes
2007–08 ER Dr. Barry Grossman 4 episodes
2009–10 Big Love Ray Henry 11 episodes
2009 The Mentalist Rick Bregman 1 episode
The Cleaner Dr. Jake Slovak 1 episode
NCIS: Los Angeles John Cole/Ethan Stanhope 1 episode
2011 Wilfred Nick 2 episodes
2011 Jessie Morgan Ross 4 episodes
Enlightened Damon Manning
2012–present Nashville Deacon Claybourne Series regular; 65 episodes


Year Work Role Notes
1997 The Sleepwalker Killing Mark Schall
The Postman Michael
1999 The Expendables Ram
Late Last Night Unnamed policeman
2000 Thirteen Days Maj. Rudolf Anderson
2001 61* Kevin Maris (1998)
2002 The Johnny Chronicles Patrick Monroe
Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet Bill "Twelve Miles to Trona" segment
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Connor Fulton
2007 American Family Larry Bogner
2008 1% John Tipton
Swing Vote Lewis



Year Single Peak chart
US Country
2012 "Undermine" (with Hayden Panettiere)A 35 116 The Music of Nashville: Season 1 Volume 1
"No One Will Ever Love You" (with Connie Britton)A 36 117
2013 "This Town" (with Clare Bowen) 41 The Music of Nashville: Season 2, Volume 1
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ Whose Line Is It Anyway? Television show – Whose Line Is It Anyway? TV Show – Yahoo! TV
  2. ^ Whose Live Anyway"? is a party, performer says""".  
  3. ^ a b c """Life is Good – For Chip Esten '87, success is more than "Nashville (PDF). William & Mary Alumni Magazine ( 
  4. ^ a b "Obituary: Charles E. Puskar / Force behind creation of SIDS of Pennsylvania".  
  5. ^ 'Whose Line' co-star relishing 'Improv All-Stars' tour : North County Times – Californian
  6. ^ Improv All-Stars Schedule
  7. ^ Chip Esten (2009). NCIS: Los Angeles episode Pushback (TV-Series). 
  8. ^ "Puskar-Hanson".  
  9. ^ "Hot Country Songs Week of November 10, 2012".  
  10. ^ "Bubbling Under Hot 100 Week of November 10, 2012".  

External links

  • Charles Esten at the Internet Movie Database
  • Whose Live Anyway? live improv comedy show starring Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Chip Esten and Jeff Davis touring North America
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