A portly, light-haired actor, Tom McGowan first garnered attention in 1991 when he was chosen to replace Ron Silver in Boston as the lead of "La Bete", a stage play written in verse. He made his entrance and delivered a twenty-five minute soliloquy in rhyming couplets that made critics and audiences pay attention. While the show failed to run, McGowan earned a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor. Having trained at the prestigious Yale School of Drama, appeared with the Yale Rep and landed work with the New York Shakespeare Festival, the actor appeared to be poised to have a successful stage career. Instead, he turned to TV where he made his mark in low- brow sitcoms.
After making his debut on the syndicated 1981 soap opera "Another Life", McGowan appeared as Joey Lawrence's father in the 1986 syndicated children's special "Umbrella Jack". But, it was not until the 90s when McGowan found steady work in TV sitcoms. He was Eddie, the virginal and always dateless roommate, in "Down the Shore" (Fox, 1991-93) and then played the sidekick to talk-show host "Monty" (Fox, 1994), played by Henry Winkler. McGowan didn't have much luck with his third try, the short-lived and somewhat condescending "The Show" (Fox, 1996).
McGowan's feature work has also included some small parts, beginning with playing a TV interviewer in "Reuben, Reuben" (1983) and a reporter in "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (1993). He was a dead-on Alexander Woolcott of the Algonquin Roundtable in Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and Her Vicious Circle" (1994) and portrayed the predator tabloid reporter in "The Birdcage" (1996). He returned to the Broadway stage