Brent Spiner, whose primary claim to fame is his portrayal of the beloved android Data on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), was born and raised in Houston, Texas. His parents, Sylvia (Schwartz) and Jack Spiner, owned and operated a furniture store, and were both from Jewish immigrant families (from Austria, Hungary, and Russia). Jack died of kidney failure at age 29, when Brent was 10 months old. When he was 6 years old, his mother married Sol Mintz, who adopted Brent and his older brother Ron. Although his mother divorced Mintz after 7 years of marriage, Brent retained his adopted father's last name until 1975, when he took back his birth name.
Spiner first began pursuing his interest in acting while in high school. There his inspirational drama teacher, Cecil Pickett, gave a great start to the careers of a remarkable group of aspiring young actors (and directors), including Spiner, Cindy Pickett (Cecil's daughter), Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid, Trey Wilson, R