Shrek was named by his creator, American cartoonist and children’s author William Steig, after the German and Yiddish word “schreck,” meaning fear and terror. The character was the star of Steig’s 1990 best-seller “Shrek!” but he gained his real recognition after DreamWorks Animation adapted the book into an animated film, featuring the voices of “Saturday Night Live” performer Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey and Cameron Diaz as the lovely Princess Fiona.
The film, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, originally starred Chris Farley as Shrek, but the comedian died prematurely with only half the dialogue recorded. Myers took over the role, but midway through production after recording all of the dialogue, he asked to have all his dialogue re-recorded so he could give the character a Scottish accent.
The first “Shrek” film, released in the summer of 2001, was a box office smash, bringing in $484 million worldwide. Three more “Shrek” films followed: “Shrek 2” (2004), “Shrek the Third” (2007) and “Shrek: The Final Chapter” also known as “Shrek Forever After” (2010). The final Shrek movie was released in 3-D.
The success of the films inspired a live-action stage musical. After a tryout in Seattle, “Shrek the Musical” opened on Broadway on Dec. 14, 2008. It received generally favorable reviews and was nominated for several Tony Awards, winning one for costume design. The musical closed on January 3, 2010.
Shrek also starred in a 30-minute Christmas special made for network TV called “Shrek the Halls.”
In addition to acting work, he appeared alongside Donkey in a series of print ads by the Department of Health and Human Services, urging children to engage in more physical activity.