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Robert Klein (born February 8, 1942) is an American stand-up comedian, singer, and actor. He had several comedy albums in the 1970s, was nominated for a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award for They're Playing Our Song (1979), and has made a variety of TV and movie appearances, including hosting Saturday Night Live twice.
Klein in 2010
|Born||February 8, 1942|
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, television, film, theatre|
|Genres||Observational comedy, improvisational comedy, satire/Political satire, musical comedy|
|Subject(s)||Everyday life, American politics|
(m. 1973; div. 1989)
Klein was born in the Bronx, the son of Frieda (née Moskowitz) and Benjamin Klein, and was raised in a "prototypical 1950s Bronx Jewish" environment, the grandson of Hungarian-Jewish immigrants who arrived in the USA early in the 20th century.
While studying at the Yale Drama School, Klein learned about an opportunity to audition for The Second City. In a piece he wrote for the improvisational troupe's book, Klein recalled sitting in a room full of other hopefuls, including Fred Willard. Klein's audition consisted of an improvisation set with Willard about two guys in a nightclub, which was successful enough to get Klein and Willard hired by Second City. In the spring of 1965, Klein was chosen as a member of Second City. When he returned to New York City a year later, he was cast by Mike Nichols in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree.
Klein's first major appearance was as host of the 1970 summer replacement television series Comedy Tonight, on which were introduced many of the routines that in the next few years would be released on record albums. His extensive routines about the Watergate scandal made him highly popular in the 1970s. In 1974, he appeared in an episode of Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.
Klein starred in HBO's first stand-up comedy special in 1975 during the cable channel's early broadcast days and has continued to appear in several more one-man shows which have typically concluded with his "I can't stop my leg" routine.
On 15 November 1975, during Season 1, and again in Season 3, on 28 January 1978, Klein hosted Saturday Night Live. His skits included Tough Director in 1975, Nick The Lounge Singer Sings Star Wars Theme in 1978 and The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips and Pepsi in 1978.
In 1979, Klein was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in They're Playing Our Song. In 1985, he starred in the "Wordplay" episode of The New Twilight Zone.
Klein has made several albums, the most successful being his first two.
In A Child of the Fifties (1973, Brut/Buddah Records), shown as Child of the 50s (on the cover), Klein talks about his life as a child in the 1950s: about air raid drills, Johnny Mathis music, showing off condoms while at the high school dance, the high school lunch ladies, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Governor W. Averell Harriman (of New York), meeting Yankee stars, the Yankees losing the World Series, and much more. He also goes into other things that he has observed in his life, such as substitute teaching, 1970s FM radio disc jockeys, late-night delis, and annoying commercials (e.g., Geritol). He also performed two songs that he wrote himself: "Fabulous '50s"; and "Middle Class, Educated Blues".
—Review of New Teeth in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)
Klein's follow-up album, New Teeth (1975, Epic/CBS Records), featured the comedian's on-stage work on tracks such as "Mother Isn't Always Right" and his transposition of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television", titled "Six Clean Words You Can Say Anywhere," with studio-recorded material such as "Continental Steel" and "On the Bayou".
Klein responded to the end of the sexual revolution with his 1990 album, Let's Not Make Love, which contained many of the same routines as his 1984 HBO special Child of the '50s, Man of the '80s and his 1986 special Robert Klein on Broadway.
Klein has appeared in such films as The Owl and the Pussycat (1970), Hooper (1978), The Last Unicorn (1982), Radioland Murders (1994), One Fine Day (1996), Primary Colors (1998), The Safety of Objects (2001), Two Weeks Notice (2002), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), and Ira and Abby (2006).
Klein had a recurring role in the TV drama series Sisters. In the 1970s, he hosted Saturday Night Live twice. He also appeared as a guest star in the animated series Duckman, in the NBC sitcom Family Ties, and on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens.
In March 2007, Klein once again collaborated with Adam Sandler (after appearing in Mixed Nuts) in Reign Over Me, and in September 2007 released a new DVD compilation of his eight live HBO specials, entitled Robert Klein: The HBO Specials 1975–2005.
Klein starred in The Mysteries of Laura, a crime dramedy on NBC starring Debra Messing. In this series he played the father of the show's main character, Laura. He appeared alongside Messing again in the relaunched version of her sitcom Will & Grace, playing the father of her character, Grace Adler.
Klein has authored an autobiography, The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks Back (2006).
During the finale of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2014, Billy Crystal reminded Jay Leno that when Leno was an aspiring comedian, the only decoration in Leno's apartment was a poster of Klein. Both implied that they were influenced by the Child of the 50s recording.
|1975||On Location: An Evening with Robert Klein||HBO||Broadcast|
|1977||On Location: Robert Klein Revisited||HBO||Broadcast|
|1981||The Robert Klein Show||NBC||Broadcast|
|1982||On Location: Robert Klein at Yale||HBO||Broadcast|
|1984||Child of the 50s, Man of the 80s||HBO||Broadcast/VHS|
|1986||Robert Klein on Broadway||HBO||Broadcast/VHS|
|1995||It All Started Here||HBO||Broadcast|
|2000||Child in His 50s||HBO||Broadcast/DVD|
|2005||The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue||HBO||Broadcast/Streaming/DVD|
|2007||The HBO Specials 1975-2005||Standing Room Only Entertainment||4xDVD box set|
|2010||Unfair and Unbalanced||HBO||Broadcast/Streaming/DVD|
|2016||Robert Klein Still Can't Stop His Leg (documentary)||Starz||Broadcast/Streaming|
|1973||Child of the 50s||Brut Records||LP/8-track/cassette|
|1974||Mind Over Matter||Brut Records||LP/8-track/cassette|
|1975||New Teeth||Epic Records||LP/cassette|
|1979||Original Cast Recording - They're Playing Our Song||Casablanca Records||LP/cassette|
|1990||Let's Not Make Love||Rhino Records||Cassette/CD|
- "Robert Klein Biography (1942–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- "Robert Klein — Biography". Robertklein.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- by Joe Eskenazi June 24, 2005 J. The Jewish News of Northern California
- Jesse Bernstein, May 26, 2019 The Jewish Exponent
- Wasserstein, Wendy. "THEATER; A Place They'd Never Been: the Theater". The New York Times, June 20, 1999. Retrieved on 2009-09-15 from https://www.nytimes.com/1999/06/20/theater/theater-a-place-they-d-never-been-the-theater.html. "DeWitt Clinton High School, named for the 19th-century New York mayor and governor, is the alma mater of the comedian Robert Klein, the designer Ralph Lauren, and the writers James Baldwin and Avery Corman."
- "Robert Klein Biography". The Conversation Company, Ltd. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- Markowitz, Dan (1998-07-05). "Robert Klein: Comedy Close to Home". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
- November 15 - Robert Klein, retrieved 2019-12-30
- January 28 - Robert Klein, retrieved 2019-12-30
- Tough Director, retrieved 2019-12-30
- Nick The Lounge Singer Sings Star Wars Theme, retrieved 2019-12-30
- The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips and Pepsi, retrieved 2019-12-30
- "Nominees". tonyawards.com. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 2019-02-28 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Hatchett, Keisha (29 January 2018). "Will & Grace Is Recasting Grace's Dad". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
- "Robert Klein returns to a late-night world that helped create him". Los Angeles Times. 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
- Stanley, Alessandra (2014-02-07). "That 'Old Guy'? He's Retired Now, Right?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
- "Robert Klein". trakt.tv. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
- "Robert Klein". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Klein.|
- Robert Klein on IMDb
- Robert Klein at the Internet Broadway Database
- Robert Klein at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Robert Klein Biography from aish.com
| Saturday Night Live Host
January 28, 1978