Emmy Award-winning writer Bob Einstein, who was best known as cocky stuntman Super Dave Osborne and Larry David’s newly devout friend, Marty Funkhouser, on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” has died. He was 76.
Einstein died at home in Indian Wells, Calif., on Wednesday, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, spokesman Michael Hansen confirmed to The Times.
The Einstein family did not specify the type of cancer the actor was diagnosed with, but asked that donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Hansen said.
The raspy-voiced star was born Stewart Robert Einstein in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 1942. His father was radio comedian Harry Einstein, who was also known as “Parkyakarkus,” and his mother was actress Thelma Leeds. The actor’s older brother is retired advertising executive Cliff Einstein, and his younger brother is comedian, writer and director Albert Brooks.
“R.I.P. My dear brother Bob Einstein. A great brother, father and husband. A brilliantly funny man. You will be missed forever,” Brooks tweeted on Wednesday.
The comedy veteran got his start in television writing in the 1970s for variety shows such as the “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” where he played Officer Judy, who memorably gave Liberace a speeding ticket for playing the piano too fast in a 1969 episode.
“Tom Smothers made our life by giving us that,” Einstein said in a statement released by the family.
The quick-witted, physical comedian also wrote and appeared on “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” and NBC’s “Van Dyke and Company,” the latter of which debuted the goofy daredevil Super Dave Osborne, whose white-and-blue jumpsuit Einstein repeatedly donned in comedy specials throughout the years.
Super Dave’s feats always went wrong, with the stuntman usually ending up crushed, mangled or flattened. The character was popularized on Showtime and late-night talk shows, and one iconic sketch included a reluctant Super Dave falling off of Toronto’s CN Tower.
“The whole character of Super Dave is a takeoff on people who pontificate,” Einstein told The Times in 1995. “So one thing I never want to do is pontificate why this works, why this is funny. I have no idea what the appeal is. All we are trying to do is make people have a good time and laugh.”
He won his two Primetime Emmy Awards in 1969 and 1977 for his work on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and “Van Dyke and Company.”
Einstein most recently appeared in 22 episodes of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” playing Larry David’s devout neighbor Marty Funkhouser from 2004 to 2017, notably appearing in the show’s “Seinfeld” reunion episode in which he recites an off-color joke to the show’s star Jerry Seinfeld. Because of his illness, Einstein was unable to complete episodes in the show’s upcoming 10th season, which airs this year.
“Never have I seen an actor enjoy a role the way Bob did playing ‘Marty Funkhouser’ on ‘Curb,’” David said in a statement to The Times. “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.”
“Curb” costar Cheryl Hines and writer and producer David Mandel shared their condolences on social media, along with a slew of other celebrities.
“We lost a friend today. thanks for all of the laughs on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Our love to Bob’s family,” Hines wrote. “The comedy world will miss you.”
“Very sad,” Mandel tweeted. “Got to work with him on #Curb Had heard he was sick. Will never forget him telling @jerryseinfeld the dirty joke about the newlyweds.”