A graduate of Alfred University, American actor Robert Klein spent the 1960s and 1970s amassing a respectable list of stage and film credits (he played George Segal's befuddled roomie in The Owl and the Pussycat ), but his bread and butter turned out to be his career as a stand-up comic. First gaining national attention as host of the 1970 TV variety series Comedy Tonight, Klein went on to transcribe his comedy routines in a series of popular record albums. A "reporter" of humor, the raspy-voiced, heavily eyebrowed Klein is at his best commenting offhandedly on the absurdities of everyday life. Some of his best routines involve the dissection of such pop-culture icons as The Little Rascals, My Little Margie, and Babe Ruth; other monologues recall such childhood experiences as civil defense drills and the first dance (complete with imitations of the Johnny Mathis records heard on the PA). Klein continued taking acting jobs into the 1970s and 1980s: one of his longer engagements during this period was in the Neil Simon Broadway musical They're Playing Our Song. In 1991, Robert Klein found himself the unofficial spokesperson for the Comedy Central cable service, hosting the weekly series Dead Comics Society and Stand Up Stand Up. He also appeared occasionally on the NBC drama Sisters. Klein continued to take small roles in respectable films throughout the late 1990s and 2000s; among his credits include Primary Colors (1998), Next Stop Wonderland (1998), and Ira & Abby (2006). In 2007 he appeared in the noted documentary Sputnik Mania, and continues to be active in film and television.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- His doo-wop group, the Teen Tones, performed on the variety show Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour in 1957.
- Made his Broadway debut in 1967 in Mike Nichols' musical The Apple Tree.
- First TV role was hosting the short-lived 1970 comedy/variety series Comedy Tonight.
- Was the first comic to appear in a live concert on HBO's On Location series in 1975.
- Hosted The Robert Klein Radio Show, a syndicated comedy/rock program that was taped before a live audience and ran for two years in the early '80s.
- 1990 video for the title track of his Let's Not Make Love comedy album featured cameos by numerous celebrities, including Geraldo Rivera, Joan Rivers, Maury Povich, Bob Costas and Marv Albert.
- In 2005, published the autobiography The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue, a coming-of-age memoir about growing up in the '50s and '60s.