Neil Patrick Harris is the true definition of a Renaissance man. An actor, singer, dancer and incredible emcee, it’s no surprise that he’s become a huge star. But it didn’t happen overnight, and in honor of his birthday this weekend, we’re taking a look back at all the moments that made us love NPH:

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Actor Neil Patrick Harris (L) and David Burtka attend the 2014 The New York Philharmonic Spring Gala featuring 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' at Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center on March 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
June 15, 1973
­– The first recorded occurrence of Neil Patrick Harris – AKA his birth.

1988 – He made his film debut, with appearances in both “Purple People Eater” and “Clara’s Heart.”

1989-1993 –Neil Patrick Harris become one of the most recognizable child stars as the precocious “Doogie Howser, M.D.”  He rose to fame and was quickly living the ‘90s teen heartthrob life.


The Late ‘90s
– This was a time of limited public success. Post-“Doogie,” he had lead roles in three separate TV series and made appearances in many others, but all were short-lived gigs. Aside from a good deal of stage acting, he also had a guest role on this truly off-the-rails episode of “Captain Planet.” 

2004 – “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” was released, wherein NPH made one of the most memorable cameo appearances of film history, as a debauched caricature of himself.  His performance in the movie is largely credited for pushing the reset button on his career, allowing him to transition from former teen stardom into icon he’s become today.  See his intro [NSFW]:  


2005-2014
– “How I Met Your Mother” begins, with Harris playing Barney Stinson, a character who soon became – wait for it – legendary.  Everybody in America today has, consciously or unconsciously, taken a few lessons from Stinson’s Bro Code to heart.

2006 – NPH comes out publicly in a huge moment for gay visibility in Hollywood, especially after cornering the market on womanizer roles in “Harold in Kumar” and “HIMYM.”

2008 – “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” is the stuff of nerd lore, an Internet musical structured around the podcasts of an aspiring super-villain about the progress of his ambition.  The three parts, written and independently released by Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) and his family, would go on to top the iTunes TV sales chart for five weeks in a row, earning a legion of new fans as the titular Dr. Horrible. 


2013
– Also a four-time Tony Awards host, NPH emceed the Emmy Awards.  Despite a bit of a heavy tone for the whole show, his hosting was a consistent bright spot, even when a platoon of former hosts tried to usurp the stage here: 
 

2014 – Neil appeared in the recent Seth MacFarlane vehicle “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and won a Tony for his lead role in glam-rock musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway, which “Rolling Stone” recently called “the Best Rock Musical Ever.”

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