Credits + Pics

Events + Pics

About Lee

Ask Lee

Lee Links

Site Info



Lee Bio

Full name

Lee Allen Tergesen

Contact info

Lee Tergesen
c/o  The Gersh Agency
41 Madison Ave.
33rd Floor
New York, NY 10010

Attn: Bill Butler


July 8, 1965


Ivoryton, Connecticut. Also lived in Lyme, Conn., during pre-teen years.

Height, weight

5-foot, 10.5 inches; about 170 pounds (Lee was about 193 pounds when he started "Oz," then lost about 20 pounds during the course of the show.)


Chris Tergesen (IMDb credits), music supervisor for many TV shows, including "Oz" and other Tom Fontana productions. (Homicide's music master) He also has been the engineer for numerous recording artists. He's about 4 or 5 years older than Lee. Chris is married to actress Toni Lewis (IMDb credits), who was a recurring character on "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Oz." They have a daughter, Kacie.


Father, George (pictured here in October 2001)
Mother, Ruth, died of breast cancer in 1989

Wife & child

Yuko Otomo, an art therapist who works with psychiatric patients. Lee and Yuko have been a happy couple for several years.
They were married in 2011 in Japan and in February 2012 in the United States. They had a daughter, Lily, born Dec. 5, 2012.

First wife

Tanya Lewis (IMDb credits). Appeared with Lee in an episode of Weird Science, "Chett World."  Leslie Howitt, see below, caught the bouquet at Tanya and Lee's wedding.

Second wife

Leslie Howitt, painter and certified fitness instructor. Lee and Leslie were married in August 2001 at New York City's Studio 450. Divorced in 2004.


Lee has a tattoo on the back of his right calf. It's the Japanese symbol for "mother," written inside a sun. It's symbolic of the mother inside the son. (Photo of tattoo taken by Colleen Detroit at the LeeFest gathering following Good Boys and True on May 31, 2008.)


Lee Timeline:
Career highlights and milestones


Lee's desire to be a performer started early:

"There was this moment, I think I was about 4 years old, and my parents and their friends were having a party and they were all sitting around the living room, the music was playing and I was sort of dancing wildly. I mean, I was really into it and everyone there was entertained. And I remember I was like, 'Wow, man, I'm watchable!'"

Ever since then, acting is all that Tergesen ever wanted to do. "I remember my 15-year high school reunion. A friend of mine said to me, 'Oh, man, I went to see Wayne's World and, when you came on the screen, it blew my mind.' ... And he said, 'I totally remember, we were in second grade and you were sitting next to me and the teacher was going around the room and everybody was saying what they wanted to be when they grew up.' Most of the kids, they wanted to be policemen and firemen and doctors and Indian chiefs, but I said, 'I want to be an actor.' And my friend was like, 'Twenty years later, there you are on screen doing what you said you'd be doing in the second grade!'"

- August 2004 article by David Martindale on TNT.tv


Graduated from Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Conn. (Click the pics to see a gallery of pictures of Lee from his school days!)

While Lee was in high school, his grandmother worried about his choice of acting as a career, a Dec. 3, 2005, KRT News Service item noted.  "What are you going to fall back on?" she asked him. Lee's reply: "I said, 'Well, grandma, if I have something to fall back on, won't I fall back?' Which is sort of a youthful attitude, but I've always followed my gut."

1985 Graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan (two-year program). Read more about his studies here.

Lee was 18 when he moved to New York to try to become an actor. 

"The first two weeks I was living at the YMCA, and ... I'd call my mother crying every day. She said, 'Do you want to come home?' I said, 'No, I want you to come here.' "

- Dec. 3, 2005, KRT News Service item

1986-89 Worked at the Empire Diner in New York. "I wasn't a great waiter. I was funny, but I gave a lot of attitude," he said in Rosie Magazine, March 2002. However, he said, "The place is like a vortex for me." Two marriages and a career came out of there, he explained. Both Tanya Lewis and Leslie Howitt worked there. And, in 1989, that's where he met Tom Fontana, who lived around the corner from the diner. (Tom Fontana IMDb credits.)

Lee did some stage work during this time. "I was doing plays all the time, but there's no money in it," Lee said in a 1995 Los Angeles Times article. "After graduation, I thought I'd be making a living at it." His big brother, Chris, kept him on track, though: "If you love it, you have to stick with it."


Lee grew his hair long to counteract the straight-arrow type of roles his agents thought he should try for.

"When I was 21 or so, and I started to grow my hair -- this was maybe two years before 'Wayne's World.'  [My agents] were like 'What are you doing? You're such the all-American guy.' But I would go in and read for these parts, and it never excited me to play the guy who doesn't have any sort of point of view and edge. I think I knew I wasn't what people looked at and saw in me. I love characters. I love things that have dimension and depth, that are hard to figure out."

Aug. 1, 2005, Hackensack, NJ, Record

"One of the things I realized early on was that the leading man, very clean-cut-good-guy-type was never something I was drawn to."

Aug. 21, 2005, New York Post

1990 Went to Los Angeles to help Tom Fontana move. While dining at a restaurant on the day after arriving in L.A., a casting director and friend of Fontana's asked Lee if he was an actor. "He told me there was a part in this movie and at that time, I couldn't imagine what it could be," Lee told the L.A. Times. The movie ended up being "Point Break," starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. "It was the beginning of me never having to do anything else but act," Lee said on LT.com.

"Point Break" is released.
(For more of Lee's career, see the Credits page.)


Appeared as Terry in "Wayne's World" and became part of two major pieces of pop culture: The "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene and uttering the "I love you, man" line that was adopted for Budweiser commercials.

1993 Began a series of recurring appearances in Tom Fontana's "Homicide: Life on the Street."

Appeared as Chett in "Weird Science."

1997 Lee went East for an episode of "Homicide" and met up with Tom Fontana in January. In a 2003 article in the Windy City Times, Lee said, "He talked to me about the fact that they were going to be doing this show for HBO about a prison. And we discussed a couple of ideas about characters, one was a guard and one was a guy who turned out to be Tobias Beecher."

Played Tobias Beecher in "Oz." Tom Fontana wrote the part for Lee. "He knew I'd played broad comedy, but he knew there was more I could do," Lee said in an interview in Rosie Magazine in 2002. 

1999 Moved back to New York, a month after the wrap party for Season 3 of "Oz." A large motivation for moving back East was that Lee had struck up a relationship with Leslie Howitt, a friend since 1986.
2003-2004 Had guest appearances and/or supporting roles in several TV shows and movies. (See Lee Credits page for details.)
Oct. 2004-
Jan. 2005
Following a desire to do theater work again, he appeared in an off-Broadway play, "The Foreigner," with Matthew Broderick.

Appears as live-wire U.S. Marshal Eddie Drake in "Wanted," a TV series that aired August-September and December 2005 on cable channel TNT.

QUOTABLE In August 2005, TVGuide.com interviewed Lee, noting that he has enjoyed a wide variety of roles. 

Lee: The funny thing is, when I first started working and did "Wayne's World," a lot of comedy came my way. And then as soon as I got "Oz," the things people thought of me for were a bit more intense. It's fine; that's how it goes.

TVGuide.com: Which is closer to the real Lee, the surly sorts or the goofballs?

Lee: The goofballs, totally.

2006+ Keep track of Lee's career on the Credits page

Lee Tergesen knows first-hand how 'Weird' the path is to acting,
Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1995