About Charles Esten
Charles Esten Puskar III , known professionally as Chip Esten, is an American actor, singer and comedian.
Esten is best known for his role as country singer Deacon Claybourne on the American Broadcasting Company/CMT drama Nashville, which he played from 2012 to 2018. He previously appeared on the improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? regularly between 1999–2005.
Esten was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Alexandria, Virginia at age nine, after his parents divorced. He and his younger sister were raised by their mother.
His late father, Charles, was a prominent local businessman and business partner of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Ray Mansfield.
Esten is a 1983 graduate of Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School, where he played football for the Titans a decade after the events of the film Remember the Titans. He then attended 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. At William and Mary, he was the lead vocalist in the local band "N'est Pas" from 1985–88. 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.
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 City. 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. Although appearing on stage and screen thereafter, his 1999 return to Whose Line Is It Anyway? — in the show's new-look American format with Drew Carey as host — established him as a regular "fourth contestant" on the show. Due to his singing abilities, he was often paired with series regular Wayne Brady on musical games. Although he did not return as a regular when the show was revived in 2013, he did appear as a special guest during the 13th and 14th seasons.
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