Bob Einstein, the gravelly-voiced comedic actor who delighted viewers by playing inept stuntman Super Dave Osborne and, more recently, by vexing Larry David on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, died on Wednesday at age 76. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Einstein's career in show business spanned more than half a century during which he won two Emmys.
After spending some time in the advertising industry, he began his television career as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and in 1969 won his first prime time Emmy. He went on to write for the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and the Canadian sketch comedy show, Bizarre. But his second Emmy came in 1977, as a producer for Van Dyke and Company.
Einstein was born in Los Angeles in 1942 and was the middle son of actress Thelma Leeds and comedian Harry Einstein, and the older brother of writer and director Albert Brooks. Einstein had a particularly hilarious knack for creating deadpan yet absurd characters that seemed oblivious of their failings.
His jokes often veered into blue territory and ultimately found an appropriate outlet on cable television and, more recently, on podcasts. Still, he remained a fan favorite on many late night talk shows for decades, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night With David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"R.I.P., my dear brother Bob Einstein," Albert Brooks wrote on Twitter. "A great brother, father and husband. A brilliantly funny man. You will be missed forever."
Einstein played a slew of oddball characters on many of the variety shows he wrote for and produced, but it was Super Dave Osborne, an accident-prone stuntman who was a send-up of Evil Knievel, that made the writer-turned-actor a star. And it eventually led to his own TV show from 1987 to 1991 on Showtime called simply Super Dave. He revived the character for Spike TV (now called Paramount Network) in 2009 for Super Dave's SpikeTacular.
In more recent years, he developed a new fan base appearing as Marty Funkhouser, Larry David's self-proclaimed best friend on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Larry Middleman, a surrogate for the family patriarch on Arrested Development.
"We lost a friend today," Einstein's Curb co-star Cheryl Hines wrote on Twitter. "Thanks for all of the laughs on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The comedy world will miss you."
"I'm in shock. I knew him forever. [Love] to his loved ones. His long career is hard to match," Lewis wrote. "His role on #curbyourenthusiasm was excruciatingly brilliant! Our cast and crew will be devastated. He was so loved."
Variety reports, "Einstein is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Roberta Einstein, a daughter, and two grandchildren, as well as two brothers, Brooks and older brother Cliff Einstein."