Robert Klein
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Robert Klein
Robert Klein
Robert Klein.jpg
Klein in 2010
Born (1942-02-08) February 8, 1942 (age 78)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film, theatre
EducationAlfred University (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active1965-present
GenresObservational comedy, improvisational comedy, satire/Political satire, musical comedy
Subject(s)Everyday life, American politics
Suzy Klein
(m. 1999; div. 2015)

Robert Klein (born February 8, 1942) is an American stand-up comedian, singer, and actor. He had several comedy albums in the 1970s, was nominated for a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award for 1979's They're Playing Our Song, and has made a variety of TV and movie appearances, including hosting Saturday Night Live twice.

Early life

Klein was born in the Bronx, the son of Frieda (née Moskowitz) and Benjamin Klein[1][2] and was raised in a "prototypical 1950s Bronx Jewish" environment,[3] the grandson of Hungarian Jewish immigrants who arrived in the USA early in the 20th century.[4] After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School,[5] Klein had planned to study medicine; however, he changed his mind during his studies at Alfred University,[6] After graduating, he studied at the Yale Drama School[7] when he learned about an opportunity to audition for The Second City. In a piece he wrote for the improvisational troupe's book, Klein recalled sitting in a room full of other hopefuls, including Fred Willard. Klein's audition consisted of an improvisation set with Willard about two guys in a nightclub, which was successful enough to get Klein and Willard hired by Second City. In the spring of 1965, Klein was chosen as a member of Second City. When he returned to New York City a year later, he was cast by Mike Nichols in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree.



His first major appearance was as host of the 1970 summer replacement television series Comedy Tonight, on which were introduced many of the routines that in the next few years would be released on record albums. His extensive routines about the Watergate scandal made him highly popular in the 1970s. In 1974, he appeared in an episode of Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.

Klein starred in HBO's first stand-up comedy special in 1975 during the cable channel's early broadcast days and has continued to appear in several more one-man shows which have typically concluded with his "I can't stop my leg" routine.

On Nov 15, 1975 during Season 1 and again in Season 3 on January 28, 1978 Klein hosted Saturday Night Live.[8][9] His skits included Tough Director in 1975,[10] Nick The Lounge Singer Sings Star Wars Theme in 1978[11] and The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips and Pepsi in 1978.[12]

In 1979, Klein was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in They're Playing Our Song.[13] In 1985, he starred in the "Wordplay" episode of The New Twilight Zone.

In 1986, Klein had his own late-night talk show, Robert Klein Time, which ran on the USA Network until 1988.

Klein hosted Monty Python Live at Aspen, a reunion and tribute show for the five surviving members of the British comedy troupe, in a special that appeared on HBO in 1998.


Klein has made several albums, the most successful being his first two.

In A Child of the Fifties (1973, Brut/Buddah Records), shown as Child of the 50s (on the cover), Klein talks about his life as a child in the 1950s: about air raid drills, Johnny Mathis music, showing off condoms while at the high school dance, the high school lunch ladies, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Governor W. Averell Harriman (of New York), meeting Yankee stars, the Yankees losing the World Series, and much more. He also goes into other things that he has observed in his life, such as substitute teaching, 1970s FM radio disc jockeys, late-night delis, and annoying commercials (e.g., Geritol). He also performed two songs that he wrote himself: "Fabulous '50s" and "Middle Class, Educated Blues."

His next album, Mind Over Matter (1974), included extensive discussion of the Watergate scandal and another song--the title track--about a kid who turned to humor to become popular.

"The funniest album by a standup comic since George Carlin's Class Clown leaves behind the grammar-school nostalgia--which although frequently amusing always seemed formulaic when it wasn't--that kept Klein from sounding commercially uncompromised. Unlike Carlin, Klein gets better all the time. Never trivial, never cynical, never lacking a comic purpose for his outrage, he's up there with Pryor and Tomlin."

--Review of New Teeth in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)[14]

His follow-up album, New Teeth (1975, Epic/CBS Records), featured the comedian's on-stage work on tracks such as "Mother Isn't Always Right" and his transposition of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television", titled "Six Clean Words You Can Say Anywhere," with studio-recorded material such as "Continental Steel" and "On the Bayou."

He responded to the end of the sexual revolution with his 1990 album, Let's Not Make Love, which contained many of the same routines as his 1984 HBO special Child of the '50s, Man of the '80s and his 1986 special Robert Klein on Broadway.

Films, books and television

Klein has appeared in such movies as The Owl and the Pussycat, Hooper, Primary Colors, Radioland Murders, Ira and Abby, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Last Unicorn, and The Safety of Objects. He had a recurring role in the TV drama series Sisters. In the 1970s, he hosted Saturday Night Live twice. He also appeared as a guest star in the animated series Duckman, the NBC sitcom Family Ties and on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens.

In March 2007, he once again collaborated with Adam Sandler (after appearing in Mixed Nuts) in Reign Over Me, and in September 2007 released a new DVD compilation of his eight live HBO specials, titled Robert Klein: The HBO Specials 1975-2005.

Klein starred in The Mysteries of Laura, a crime dramedy on NBC starring Debra Messing. In this series he played the father of the show's main character, Laura. He appeared alongside Messing again in the relaunched version of her sitcom Will & Grace, playing the father of her character, Grace Adler.

In 2014 he played the Canadian Ambassador on Madam Secretary.

He played the Mayor of New York City in two of the Sharknado films.

On January 29, 2018, it was announced that Klein would be playing Grace Adler's father Martin in the NBC revival of Will and Grace replacing Alan Arkin.[15]

Klein is the author of The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks Back, an autobiography published in 2006.

Personal life

Klein is divorced from opera singer Brenda Boozer. They have a son, Alexander Stuart Klein, who goes by Allie Klein and performs standup comedy.[16]


During the finale of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2014, Billy Crystal reminded Jay Leno that when Leno was an aspiring comedian, the only decoration in Leno's apartment was a poster of Klein.[17] Both implied that they were influenced by the Child of the 50s recording.



Year Title Label Formats
1973 "Child of the 50's" Brut Records LP/8-Track/Cassette/CD
1974 "Mind Over Matter" Brut Records LP/8-Track/Cassette/CD
1975 "New Teeth" Epic Records LP/Cassette/CD/Streaming/Download
1979 Original Cast Recording "They're Playing Our Song" Casablanca Records LP/Cassette/CD/Streaming/Download
1990 "Let's Not Make Love" Rhino Records Cassette/CD


Comedy Specials

Year Title Studio Formats
1975 "On Location: An Evening with Robert Klein" HBO Broadcast/DVD
1977 "On Location: Robert Klein Revisited" HBO Broadcast/DVD
1977 "Klein Time" CBS Broadcast
1981 "The Robert Klein Show" NBC Broadcast
1982 "On Location: Robert Klein at Yale" HBO Broadcast/DVD
1984 "Child of the 50's, Man of the 80's" HBO Broadcast/VHS/DVD
1986 "Robert Klein on Broadway" HBO Broadcast/VHS/Laserdisc/DVD
1995 "It All Started Here" HBO Broadcast/DVD
2000 "Child in His 50's" HBO Broadcast/DVD
2005 "The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue" HBO Broadcast/Streaming/DVD
2007 "The HBO Specials 1975-2005" Standing Room Only Entertainment 4xDVD Box Set
2010 "Unfair and Unbalanced" HBO Broadcast/Streaming/DVD
2016 "Robert Klein Still Can't Stop His Leg" (documentary) Starz Broadcast/Streaming



  1. ^ "Robert Klein Biography (1942-)". Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Robert Klein -- Biography". Retrieved .
  3. ^ by Joe Eskenazi June 24, 2005 J. The Jewish News of Northern California
  4. ^ Jesse Bernstein, May 26, 2019 The Jewish Exponent
  5. ^ Wasserstein, Wendy. "THEATER; A Place They'd Never Been: the Theater", The New York Times, June 20, 1999. Accessed September 15, 2009. "DeWitt Clinton High School, named for the 19th-century New York mayor and governor, is the alma mater of the comedian Robert Klein, the designer Ralph Lauren, and the writers James Baldwin and Avery Corman."
  6. ^ "Robert Klein Biography". The Conversation Company, Ltd. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Markowitz, Dan (1998-07-05). "Robert Klein: Comedy Close to Home". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved .
  8. ^ November 15 - Robert Klein, retrieved
  9. ^ January 28 - Robert Klein, retrieved
  10. ^ Tough Director, retrieved
  11. ^ Nick The Lounge Singer Sings Star Wars Theme, retrieved
  12. ^ The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips and Pepsi, retrieved
  13. ^ "Nominees". Retrieved .
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 2019 – via
  15. ^ Hatchett, Keisha (29 January 2018). "Will & Grace Is Recasting Grace's Dad". Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ "Robert Klein returns to a late-night world that helped create him". Los Angeles Times. 2017-05-11. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (2014-02-07). "That 'Old Guy'? He's Retired Now, Right?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Robert Klein". Retrieved .
  19. ^ "Robert Klein". Retrieved .

External links

Preceded by
Steve Martin
Saturday Night Live Host
January 28, 1978
Succeeded by
Chevy Chase

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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