Comic actorBob Einstein

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Born in Los Angeles, his mother was an actress and singer (Thelma Leeds), and his father a “dialect” comedian and comic actor, best known for his radio character, Greek chef Nick Parkyakarkus. When his father died when Bob was 16, he was horrified that his father’s peers, such as Milton Berle, made jokes at his funeral, and vowed never to work in comedy. After college, a friend asked him to play a character on his local cable TV show: Einstein played the man who installed the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He did so well that someone who happened to be watching thought it was good — and Tom Smothers invited him to the set of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.Einstein, 26, says the visit was a revelation. “I go over and now I’m sitting and watching rehearsals,” he said later, and my mind is burning and all of sudden out of nowhere I want this, a bee has stung me in the back, and I want this!” He worked at the show as an actor (playing “Officer Judy” — best known for giving Liberace a “speeding ticket” for playing the piano too fast) and writer, and won an Emmy award for his writing.

Einstein in the classic “Super Dave Osborne” costume and pose (publicity photo)

Einstein also worked on Pat Paulsen’s Half a Comedy Hour, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Dick Van Dyke’s Van Dyke and Company (where he won another Emmy), and more. But he’ll probably be best known for his hapless stuntman character, “Super Dave Osborne” — whose every stunt goes wrong (see video below) — on various comedy shows, and two versions of his own Super Dave TV series. Meanwhile, he appeared on various other shows, including as “Marty” in 22 episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and “Larry” on Arrested Development. “Never have I seen an actor enjoy a role the way Bob did playing Marty Funkhouser on ‘Curb’,” said that show’s creator and star, Larry David. “There was no one like him — as he told us again and again.” Einstein died January 2, from leukemia, at 76.

From This is True for 6 January 2019