You knew Stewart Robert Einstein by many other names. Officer Judy. Super Dave. Marty Funkhouser.
However you knew him, Bob Einstein cemented his comedy legacy as part of a rich, funny family. Einstein died Jan. 2 at the age of 76, from leukemia.
Bob didn’t initially want to get into comedy, in part because of what happened when his famously funny father infamously died. Bob was just a teen when his dad, Harry Einstein (who performed in character as a Greek named Parkyakarkus) suffered a fatal heart attack at 54 just after delivering his remarks at the Friars Club Roast of Lucy and Desi Arnaz. Disgusted by hearing Milton Berle and other comedians crack jokes at his dad’s funeral, Bob went into advertising instead. But when he agreed to do a bit for a friend on a local TV program in 1968, Tom Smothers saw it and immediately offered Bob a job on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
He created the traffic cop character, Officer Judy, and won an Emmy for an episode in which he gave Liberace a speeding ticket.
His second great character, Super Dave Osborne, spoofed daredevils such as Evel Knievel. Super Dave appeared over the 1970s, 80s and 90s on Van Dyke and Company, the Canadian Showtime series Bizarre, and multiple times on David Letterman.
His younger brother, Albert Einstein, also chose stage names like Bob and their father had before him. Albert Brooks cast Bob in this one and only memorable scene they shared in Modern Romance.
Modern audiences recognize Bob for playing Marty Funkhouser, the foil to Larry David in 22 episodes of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Here he catches Jerry Seinfeld’s attention on the set of the Seinfeld reunion with a joke of his own to tell.
Larry David: “Never have I seen an actor enjoy a role the way Bob did playing ‘Marty Funkhouser’ on Curb. 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.”
To prove how much Jerry really enjoyed it, Seinfeld had Bob on twice on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and Seinfeld posted this tribute to Bob:
Not everyone loved his jokes.
Famously, a Polish group took Bob Einstein all the way to the United States Supreme Court after objecting to a bit he’d done in 1972 on The Dick Cavett Show, in which Einstein posed as the president of a fake Polish Defamation League and proceeded to tell offensive jokes. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1976, denying Einstein’s accusers a chance to rebut him.
Bob Einstein is survived by younger brother Albert Brooks, older brother Cliff Einstein, wife Roberta Einstein, daughter Erin and two grandchildren.
Donations can be made in Mr. Einstein’s memory to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Bob Einstein Memorial