Bob Balaban

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Bob Balaban
Bob Balaban 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Balaban at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
BornRobert Elmer Balaban
(1945-08-16) August 16, 1945 (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OccupationActor, author, producer, director
Years active1965–present
Spouse(s)Lynn Grossman (1977–present; 2 children)
ChildrenMariah Balaban (b. 1977)
Hazel Balaban (b. 1987)
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Bob Balaban
Bob Balaban 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Balaban at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
BornRobert Elmer Balaban
(1945-08-16) August 16, 1945 (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OccupationActor, author, producer, director
Years active1965–present
Spouse(s)Lynn Grossman (1977–present; 2 children)
ChildrenMariah Balaban (b. 1977)
Hazel Balaban (b. 1987)

Robert Elmer "Bob" Balaban (born August 16, 1945) is an American actor, author, producer, and director.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Balaban was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eleanor (née Pottasch) and Elmer Balaban, who owned several movie theatres and later was a pioneer in cable television.[2][3] His mother acted under the name Eleanor Barry.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] His paternal grandparents immigrated from Russia to Chicago, while his mother's family was from Germany, Russia, and Romania.[3]


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.[8] 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.[9] 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 an Academy Award 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.[10]

Balaban is the author of a series of six children's novels featuring a bionic dog named McGrowl.[11]

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.[12] The production was held at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[13][14]



1969Me, NatalieMorris
1969Midnight CowboyThe Young Student - New York
1970Catch-22Capt. Orr
1970The Strawberry StatementElliot
1977Close Encounters of the Third KindDavid Laughlin
1980Altered StatesArthur Rosenberg
1981Absence of MaliceRosen
1981Prince of the CitySantimassino
1981Whose Life Is It Anyway?Carter Hill
19842010Dr. Chandra
1987End of the LineWarren Gerber
1987Invisible ThreadDirector, television movie
1989Dead BangElliot Webly
1990AliceSid Moscowitz
1991Little Man TateQuizmasterUncredited
1992Bob RobertsMichael Janes
1993For Love or MoneyEd Drinkwater
1993Amos & AndrewDr. R.A. 'Roy' Fink
1994City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's GoldDr. Jeffrey SanbornUncredited
1996The Late ShiftWarren LittlefieldTelevision movie
1996Waiting for GuffmanLloyd Miller
1996Pie in the SkyPaul Entamen
1996Conversation with the BeastPhilip Koontz
1997ClockwatchersMilton Lasky
1997Deconstructing HarryRichard
1999Three To TangoDecker
1999Cradle Will RockHarry Hopkins
1999Jacob the LiarKowalsky
1999Swing VoteJustice Eli MacCorckleTelevision movie
2000Best in ShowDr. Theodore W. Millbank, III
2001Ghost WorldEnid's Father
2001Gosford ParkMorris WeissmanAlso Writer/Producer
2001The MajesticElvin Clyde
2001The MexicanBernie Nayman
2002The TuxedoWinton ChalmersUncredited
2003A Mighty WindJonathan Steinbloom
2004Marie and BruceRoger
2005Trust the ManTobey's TherapistUncredited
2005CapoteWilliam Shawn
2006Lady in the WaterHarry Farber
2006For Your ConsiderationPhilip Koontz
2007No ReservationsTherapist
2007DedicationArthur Planck
2007License to WedJewelry Store ClerkUncredited
2008RecountBen GinsbergTelevision movie
2009RageMr. White
2010HowlJudge Clayton Horn
2011A Monster in ParisInspector Pâté
2011Thin IceLeonard Dahl
2012Moonrise KingdomNarrator
2013Girl Most LikelyImogene's Father
2013Fading GigoloSol
2014The Monuments MenPvt. Preston Savitz
2014The Grand Budapest HotelM. Martin


1965HankHarveyEpisode: "Will The Real Harvey Wheatley Please Stand Up?"
1969Room 222Grady GarrettEpisode: "Father & Sons"
1971The Mod SquadWalterEpisode: "A Short Course in War"
1971Love, American StyleUnknownEpisode: "Love and the Fuzz"
1985–1986Miami ViceIra Stone2 episodes
1992–1993SeinfeldRussell Dalrymple5 episodes
1995LegendHarry Parver2 episodes
1998FriendsFrank Buffay Sr.Episode: "The One With Joey's Bag"
2000The West WingTed MarcusEpisode: "20 Hours in L.A."
2006Tom Goes to the MayorWalt PickleEpisode: "The Layover"
2011–2012The Good WifeGordon Higgs2 episodes
2013–2014GirlsMr. Rice2 episodes

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Bob Balaban - Profile". The New York Times ( Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  2. ^ "Bob Balaban (1945-)". Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  3. ^ a b P., Ken (3 March 2003). "An Interview with Bob Balaban". IGN. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  4. ^ Bob Balaban. Films in Review 40 (National Board of Review of Motion Pictures). 1989. p. 92. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  5. ^ Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, 2006 documentary film
  6. ^ "Bob Balaban Gets "Exonerated"". Fred Entertainment. 3 December 2003. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  7. ^ Pine, Dan (24 September 2004). "Hooked on ‘Addicted’". j.Weekly. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  8. ^ "Original Cast: "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"". Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  9. ^ Littlefield, Warren. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. New York: Anchor Books. pp. 220–221. ISBN 978-0-307-73976-6. 
  10. ^ "Bob Balaban Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  11. ^ Bob Balaban (1 August 2002). Beware of Dog (McGrowl #1). Scholastic, Inc. ISBN 0439401372. 
  12. ^ "AFER Announces New Additions to All-Star Cast of "8"" (Press release). American Foundation for Equal Rights. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  13. ^ "8: A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality". YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  14. ^ Gray, Stephen (1 March 2012). "YouTube to broadcast Proposition 8 play live". Retrieved 2013-08-15. 

External links[edit]