All that thinking benefited Cramer Berkowitz’s 70 clients, who entrusted the pair with about $400 million. Most of them didn’t see how Cramer went about investing their money. He’d spend 12 hours a day ranting, raving, sweating, and doing virtually everything else that he’s now channeling on Mad Money. Almost everything.

“I haven’t thrown any phones on TV yet,” Cramer says. No desks, either. He once flipped his desk at the hedge fund when his computer screen froze. “Everything shattered — computers, screens, everything. But I’m more in control of my temper now.”

It wouldn’t really matter, though, if his temper wasn’t in check, because the desk on the Mad Money set is bolted down. On it sits a high-tech assortment of computer screens and a sound board that Cramer uses to punch up various effects during the show.

If he’s talking about a stock that’s doing well, he might hit the button that makes cash registers cha-ching. A bad stock could elicit the sound of growling bears. Watch for the whole hour, and you’ll get the full set of sounds — snorting bulls, bowling pins falling, a truck backing up, a hallelujah chorus, Cramer’s voice yelling, “Sell! Sell! Sell!”

Cramer can relate to the sell feeling. He insists that his hedge fund outperformed the market during the fund’s 14-year run, from 1987 to 2001. But even during the good times, Cramer made plenty of bad buys. And then there was that one year — 1998 — when the fund went up only two percent.

“I’d get so angry at the hedge fund when I got things wrong,” Cramer says. “I developed this real sense of worthlessness then. I was too unforgiving of myself.”

That’s one of the reasons why, in 2001, Cramer quit the fund to go full-time into media. It seemed like a logical step, considering he had actually started out as a journalist and had continued writing and working­ in media, even during his years on Wall Street. Cramer, who was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Springfield, just outside of Philadelphia, graduated from Harvard in 1977. Fresh out of school, he went to work briefly for Congressional Quarterly as the key operator — mostly just putting stories into type — and then was hired as a sportswriter for the Tallahassee Democrat. Eventually, he ended up on the homicide beat, thanks, in part, to a fluke of location.