Bob Balaban

Bob Balaban Biography

Robert Elmer "Bob" Balaban (born August 16, 1945) is an American actor, author, producer, and director.

Personal life

Balaban was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eleanor (ne Pottasch) and Elmer Balaban, who owned several movie theatres and later was a pioneer in cable television. His mother acted under the name Eleanor Barry. His uncles were dominant forces in the theatre business; they founded the Balaban and Katz Theatre circuit in Chicago, a chain which included the Chicago and Uptown Theatres. Balaban and Katz operated some of the most beautiful movie palaces in the United States beginning in the 1920s. Balaban's father and uncle Harry founded the H & E Balaban Corporation in Chicago, which operated its own movie palaces including the Esquire Theatre in Chicago. They later owned a powerful group of television stations and cable television franchises. His uncle Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures for nearly 30 years from 1936 to 1964. His maternal grandmother's second husband, Sam Katz, was a vice president at MGM beginning in 1936. Sam had been early partners with Bob's uncles Abe, Barney, John, and Max in forming Balaban and Katz. Sam also served as President of the Publix theatre division of Paramount Pictures.

Balaban began his college career at Colgate University where he joined Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and then transferred to New York University. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. He is Jewish. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Russia to Chicago.


One of his earliest appearances in film was in 1969's Midnight Cowboy. Prior to that, he filled the role of "Linus" in the original off-Broadway production of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1967. Among his early roles in the 1970s were those of Orr in Catch-22 and the interpreter David Laughlin in the 1977 Steven Spielberg science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In 1979 he received a Tony Award nomination for his role in The Inspector General. During the 1980s he appeared in films such as Altered States and 2010. He directed the Randy Quaid picture Parents, and the Armin Mueller-Stahl picture The Last Good Time.

Balaban has had supporting roles in films such as Absence of Malice, Bob Roberts, Deconstructing Harry, Ghost World, The Majestic, Lady in the Water and Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Balaban appeared in Miami Vice as reporter Ira Stone, a nemesis of G. Gordon Liddy's character. In the 1990s, Balaban had a recurring role on the fourth season of Seinfeld as Russell Dalrymple, the fictional president of NBC. He also played Warren Littlefield, a real-world NBC executive, in The Late Shift, about the battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman for NBC's The Tonight Show. Balaban continued his ties to Littlefield in 2012 with his performance of Littlefield's autobiography, Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. In 1999, Balaban made a guest appearance in the sitcom Friends as Phoebe Buffay's father Frank in "The One With Joey's Bag". In 2010, Balaban appeared as Judge Clayton Horn, the real-life judge who presided over the obscenity trial of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Bookstore in the movie Howl.

In 2001, Balaban produced the Robert Altman picture Gosford Park, for which he received a nomination for Best Picture. He also appeared in the movie as Morris Weissman, a Hollywood producer. He appeared in an episode of Entourage as a doctor known for writing prescriptions for medical marijuana.

He directed the film Bernard and Doris, starring Susan Sarandon; and also the biopic Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons. He has also directed several episodes of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie.

Balaban is the author of a series of six children's novels featuring a bionic dog named McGrowl.

In September 2011, Balaban was featured with Morgan Freeman and John Lithgow in the Broadway debut of the play, '8' "? a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage "? as Judge Vaughn Walker. The production was held at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.



Year Title Role Notes
1969 Me, Natalie Morris
Midnight Cowboy The Young Student - New York
1970 Catch-22 Capt. Orr
The Strawberry Statement Elliot
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind David Laughlin
1978 Girlfriends Martin
1980 Altered States Arthur Rosenberg
1981 Absence of Malice Rosen
Prince of the City Santimassino
Whose Life Is It Anyway? Carter Hill
1984 2010 Dr. Chandra
1987 End of the Line Warren Gerber
1989 Dead Bang Elliot Webly
1990 Alice Sid Moscowitz
1991 Little Man Tate Quizmaster Uncredited
1992 Bob Roberts Michael Janes
1993 For Love or Money Ed Drinkwater
Amos & Andrew Dr. R.A. 'Roy' Fink
1994 Greedy Ed
City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold Dr. Jeffrey Sanborn Uncredited
1996 The Late Shift Warren Littlefield TV Movie
Waiting for Guffman Lloyd Miller
Pie in the Sky Paul Entamen
Conversation with the Beast Philip Koontz
1997 Clockwatchers Milton Lasky
Deconstructing Harry Richard
1999 Three To Tango Decker
Cradle Will Rock Harry Hopkins
Jacob the Liar Kowalsky
Swing Vote Justice Eli MacCorckle TV Movie
2000 Best in Show Dr. Theodore W. Millbank, III
2001 Ghost World Enid's Father
Gosford Park Morris Weissman Also Writer/Producer
The Majestic Elvin Clyde
The Mexican Bernie Nayman
2002 The Tuxedo Winton Chalmers Uncredited
2003 A Mighty Wind Jonathan Steinbloom
2004 Marie and Bruce Roger
2005 Trust the Man Tobey's Therapist Uncredited
Capote William Shawn
2006 Lady in the Water Harry Farber
For Your Consideration Philip Koontz
2007 No Reservations Therapist
Dedication Arthur Planck
License to Wed Jewelry Store Clerk Uncredited
2008 Recount Ben Ginsberg TV
2009 Rage Mr. White
2010 Howl Judge Clayton Horn
2011 A Monster in Paris Inspector Pt
Thin Ice Leonard Dahl
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Narrator
2013 Monuments Men Filming


Year Title Role First episode Notes
1965 Hank Harvey "Will The Real Harvey Wheatley Please Stand Up?" 1 episode
1969 Room 222 Grady Garrett "Father & Sons" 1 episode
1971 Love, American Style none "Love and the Fuzz" 1 episode
1985"1986 Miami Vice Ira Stone "Back In The World" and "Stone's War" 2 episodes
1992"1993 Seinfeld Russell Dalrymple "The Pitch" 5 episodes
1995 Legend Harry Parver "Birth of a Legend" and "Revenge of the Herd" 2 Episodes
1998 Friends Frank Buffay Sr. "The One With Joey's Bag" 1 Episode
2000 The West Wing Ted Marcus "20 Hours in L.A." 1 Episode
2006 Tom Goes to the Mayor Walt Pickle "The Layover" 1 episode
2011"2012 The Good Wife 3 episodes
2013 Girls Therapist "It's Back" 1 Episode

Further reading

  • Balaban, David. The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz, Arcadia Publishing, 2006
  • Balaban, Bob. Spielberg, Truffaut & Me: An Actor's Diary, Titan Books, 1978 (revised 2002)

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bob_Balaban" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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