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Bob Einstein, the two-time, Emmy-winning writer and actor who recurred on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and created the character of Super Dave Osborne, has died, The Hollywood Reporter can confirm. He was 76.
His younger brother, fellow comedian and actor Albert Brooks, tweeted on Wednesday: “R.I.P. My dear brother Bob Einstein. A great brother, father and husband. A brilliantly funny man. You will be missed forever.”
Einstein has recurred on Larry David’s HBO comedy since the fourth season and was one of many actors to return for the comeback season that aired in 2017. Einstein was scheduled to be part of the forthcoming 10th season, which is currently in production, but his health had prevented him from filming.
“Never have I seen an actor enjoy a role the way Bob did playing Marty Funkhouser on Curb,” Larry David said in a statement to THR on Wednesday. “It was an amazing, unforgettable experience knowing and working with him. There was no one like him, as he told us again and again. We’re all in a state of shock.”
Richard Lewis, Einstein’s Curb co-star, said he, too, was in shock about the actor’s passing. “I knew him forever,” Lewis wrote on Twitter. “His long career is hard to match. His role on #curbyourenthusiasm was excruciatingly brilliant! Our cast and crew will be devastated. He was so loved. He told me how much he loved LD and Curb. RIP buddy.”
Curb‘s Cheryl Hines wrote, “We lost a friend today… The comedy world will miss you.”
On Jan. 4, comedian Jerry Seinfeld tweeted out a tribute to his late friend, including a clip of Einstein’s appearance on Seinfeld’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. “We made this little tribute to one of our favorite people ever in the world of comedy, the one and only Bob Einstein,” he wrote alongside the video.
We made this little tribute to one of our favorite people ever in the world of comedy, the one and only Bob Einstein.
(And yes, I did give him the car..) pic.twitter.com/0cVMIERSL1
— Jerry Seinfeld (@JerrySeinfeld) January 5, 2019
Born Stewart Robert Einstein in 1942 in Los Angeles, the middle child of three boys was raised Jewish by his parents, comic Harry Einstein and actress-singer Thelma Leeds.
Einstein got his start in TV writing for variety shows, breaking out with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967. The groundbreaking variety show launched the careers of Einstein, as well as Rob Reiner, Carl Gottlieb and Steve Martin.
The show nabbed Einstein his first Emmy for writing. He would go on to earn Emmy noms in writing for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and on Dick Van Dyke’s Van Dyke and Company in the 1970s; he won an Emmy for producing on the latter.
“We were kids. Tommy [Smothers] said I’m going to put you together with this comic from Knott’s Berry Farm. It was Steve. We ended up living in the same building for a couple of years,” Einstein recalled of Martin’s early influence on his comedy. Martin added, “Connecting with Bob changed my career. We spent almost 24 hours a day together talking about bits and ideas. We became a really solid writing team. And he stood up for me.”
In addition to his role as Marty Funkhouser on Curb, Einstein is best known for creating the popular character of Super Dave Osborne. After introducing the satirical stuntman on The John Byner Comedy Hour, he became a frequent guest on Late Night With David Letterman. Einstein then got his own variety show, called Super Dave, which ran from 1987 to 1991. The character also launched Fox’s 1992 animated series Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire and the 2000 movie The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave. His other acting credits include Ocean’s Thirteen on the big screen and Netflix’s Arrested Development.
Marty Funkhouser, a longtime friend and often adversary to Larry David’s TV alter ego, played a large role in the ninth season of Curb as more of his family members, the Funkhousers, were introduced. In addition to a season premiere reveal and a later Funkhouser tragedy, several big plotlines gave Einstein and David opportunity to improvise off one another.
One storyline revolved around the introduction of his girlfriend, played by Elizabeth Perkins, who became a thorn in Larry’s side. Curb showrunner Jeff Schaffer reveled in watching Einstein and David play that out. “This was Funkhouser’s worst dilemma: He thinks Larry is his best friend. Larry doesn’t reciprocate, but that’s never stopped Funkhouser from thinking this. So the choice between his best friend and his girlfriend who he really likes was just so difficult. … There’s a lot of really fun dynamic between them this year, and it’s going to continue,” Schaffer told THR at the time.
Veep showrunner David Mandel tweeted about the sad news, saying he “heard he was sick” and that he will never forget “him telling @jerryseinfeld the dirty joke about the newlyweds.” Mandel worked with Einstein during the original run of Curb.
The official Curb Instagram handle paid tribute to Einstein. Co-star JB Smoove responded to the post by writing, “One of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met! To have loved him so much as Super Dave and have the opportunity to work with him on @curbyourenthusiasm was a dream come true. So happy I let him know how much I appreciated him. He had the most amazing stories that he would share. Rest my friend you will be missed.” Executive producer and co-star Jeff Garlin added, “I loved him. Made me laugh so hard.”
Einstein is survived by Roberta Einstein, his wife of over 40 years; daughter Erin Einstein Dale and son-in-law Andrew Dale; and grandchildren Ethan and Zoe. He also is survived by older brother Cliff Einstein.
Deadline was first to report the news, reporting that Einstein was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Jan. 2, 2 p.m. Updated with Larry David statement.
Jan. 4, 5:21 p.m. Updated with Jerry Seinfeld’s tribute.
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