If you ask different people where they first saw Arsenio Hall, you'd probably get a number of different answers. But it was the success of his Emmy Award-winning late-night talk show The Arsenio Hall Show that made him a household name. The versatile actor, comedian, and producer first became involved in the arts at The Cleveland Playhouse and continued to hone his craft through his Kent State University years. In 1979, he moved from Ohio to Chicago, Illinois, where he tried his hand at stand-up comedy and was discovered by jazz singer Nancy Wilson. In the following years Arsenio toured, opening for twenty major headliners including Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Stevie Wonder. A short time later, he attempted to diversify his career by making numerous appearances on television shows such as Solid Gold and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and doing his first film cameo in Amazon Women on the Moon. In 1987, Arsenio was asked to replace Joan Rivers on the Fox Network series The Late Show. On the strength of his work as interim host, he was signed to a film and television deal with Paramount Pictures, which subsequently led to the opportunity to co-write and co-star in the hit comedy Coming to America. On January 3, 1989, The Arsenio Hall Show made its debut. Virtually overnight, Arsenio changed the face of late-night television by captivating young viewers across the country. During his successful five-year run as executive producer, Arsenio provided a forum for cutting-edge comedy, politics and the television debut of such pop superstars as Mariah Carey, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Boyz to Men, and countless others. In 1998, Arsenio joined the cast of the CBS dramedy Martial Law, playing Terrell Parker, a streetwise LAPD detective, for two years. He followed this up with a two-season stint as host of the new Star Search. And then, taking on his most challenging task to date, he returned to stand-up comedy and toured for the first time in over a decade.
Arsenio was featured as the comical Carl Cristall in Exodus Films' animated feature Igor, which was released in theaters nationwide in September 2008, and on DVD in January 2009. He appeared in a memorable cameo starring as Tasty Freeze in the highly touted feature comedy Black Dynamite, an homage to classic blaxploitation films, which opened in theaters nationwide in October 2009, was released on DVD in February 2010, and debuted as a new animated series on Adult Swim in 2012.