Gene Simmons was born Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949 in Haifa, Israel, and immigrated to New York City at the age of eight, changing his name to the more American Gene Klein (his mother's maiden name) and later Gene Simmons. Young Gene performed in a number of bands in his youth and supplemented his income by creating fanzines and selling used comic books. While attending college in New York, Gene also typed up term papers for money and through a temp agency ended up working for Glamour and Vogue. After he got his BA in liberal arts from Richmond College in New York, Gene concentrated on forming a band and met up with guitarist Stanley Harvey Eisen (who later changed his name to Paul Stanley) and formed a band called Wicked Lester. After signing a deal with Epic Records, the band recorded an album which was never released. Gene and Paul walked away from Wicked Lester and put together a new band with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley called Kiss. The band released several albums through the 80s and 90s and shot to stardom. Gene (along with each member of Kiss) released a solo album in September of 1978 and then reunited with the band for Dynasty, which brought them the biggest hit of their career, the disco-flavored 'I Was Made for Loving You. Kiss - in some form or another - has continued to tour and the band has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was paid tribute to on the VH-1 Rock Honors in 2006. In addition to his music career and multi-million merchandising empire, Gene has also starred in a number of films, starting with 1984's Runaway with Tom Selleck. He also starred as an evil transvestite in Never Too Young To Die and played another baddie opposite Rutger Hauer in Wanted: Dead or Alive. In recent years, Gene has taken over reality TV, participating in Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice in 2008, teaching British school kids how to rock on the VH-1 series Rock School and giving viewers a glimpse into his family life with longtime partner Shannon Tweed and their kids Nick (born January 22, 1989) and Sophie (born July 7, 1992) on the A&E series Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. One thing's for sure about Gene Simmons: his legendary tongue hasn't impeded his gift of the gab.
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