Robert Elmer Balaban (born August 16, 1945) is an American actor, author, producer, and director. He was one of the producers nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture for Gosford Park (2001), in which he also appeared. Balaban's other film roles include the drama Midnight Cowboy (1969); the science fiction films Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Altered States (1980), and 2010 (1984); the Christopher Guest comedies Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006); the dark fantasy film Lady in the Water (2006); and the Wes Anderson films Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Isle of Dogs (2018).
Balaban at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Robert Elmer Balaban
August 16, 1945
|Residence||Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York, U.S.|
|Occupation||Actor, author, producer, director|
Lynn Grossman (m. 1977)
|Parent(s)||Eleanor Pottasch Balaban|
|Family||Barney Balaban (uncle)|
A. J. Balaban (uncle)
Burt Balaban (cousin)
Leonard "Red" Balaban (cousin)
Judy Balaban (cousin)
Balaban has directed three feature films, in addition to numerous television episodes and films. He is also an author of children's novels.
Balaban was born to a Jewish family 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. His mother acted under the name Eleanor Barry.
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. Balaban's father, Elmer, 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. His maternal grandmother's second husband, Sam Katz, was a vice president at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer beginning in 1936. Sam had been an early partner of Bob's uncles Abe, Barney, John, and Max in forming Balaban and Katz. Sam 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 studied acting at HB Studio under Uta Hagen He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. His paternal grandparents emigrated from Russia to Chicago, while his mother's family was from Germany, Russia, and Romania.
One of his earliest appearances in film was in Midnight Cowboy (1969). 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.
Among his early roles in the 1970s were those of Grady Garrett on an episode of Room 222, Orr in Catch-22, Elliot the Organizer in The Strawberry Statement, 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 including Ken Russell's Altered States (1980) and the 1984 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel 2010 (as Dr Chandra, the creator of HAL 9000). He also directed the Randy Quaid horror comedy film Parents, and the Armin Mueller-Stahl drama film The Last Good Time (1994).
Balaban 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. 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. His tie to Littlefield continued in 2012 when he read the audiobook of Littlefield's autobiography, Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. 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 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 (2006), starring Susan Sarandon; and also the biopic Georgia O'Keeffe (2009), starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons. He has directed several episodes of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie.
In September 2011, he 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. The production was held at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
In January 2016, Balaban appeared in the short play Milton Bradley by Peter Sagal, for Playing On Air, a non-profit organization that "records short plays [for public radio and podcast] written by top playwrights and performed by outstanding actors."
Balaban wrote a series of six children's novels featuring a bionic dog named McGrowl. He also co-authored Spielberg, Truffaut & Me: An Actor's Diary with Steven Spielberg and The Creature from the Seventh Grade: Sink or Swim (Creature from the Seventh Grade, #2) which Andy Rash illustrated.
|1969||Midnight Cowboy||The Young Student - New York|
|1970||The Strawberry Statement||Elliot|
|1974||Bank Shot||Victor Karp||credited as Robert Balaban|
|1975||Report to the Commissioner||Joey Egan||credited as Robert Balaban|
|1977||Close Encounters of the Third Kind||David Laughlin|
|1980||Altered States||Arthur Rosenberg|
|1981||Prince of the City||Santimassino|
|1981||Absence of Malice||Rosen|
|1981||Whose Life Is It Anyway?||Carter Hill|
|1984||2010: The Year We Make Contact||Dr. Chandra|
|1987||End of the Line||Warren Gerber|
|1989||Dead Bang||Elliot Webly|
|1991||Little Man Tate||Quizmaster||Uncredited|
|1992||Bob Roberts||Michael Janes|
|1993||Amos & Andrew||Dr. R.A. 'Roy' Fink|
|1993||For Love or Money||Ed Drinkwater|
|1994||Greedy||Edward "Eddie" Ault|
|1994||City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold||Dr. Jeffrey Sanborn||Uncredited|
|1996||Pie in the Sky||Paul Entamen|
|1996||Waiting for Guffman||Lloyd Miller|
|1996||Conversation with the Beast||Philip Koontz|
|1999||Cradle Will Rock||Harry Hopkins|
|1999||Jacob the Liar||Kowalsky|
|1999||Three To Tango||Decker|
|2000||Best in Show||Dr. Theodore W. Millbank, III|
|2001||The Mexican||Bernie Nayman|
|2001||Ghost World||Enid's Father|
|2001||Gosford Park||Morris Weissman||Also Producer/Writer|
|2001||The Majestic||Elvin Clyde|
|2002||The Tuxedo||Winton Chalmers||Uncredited|
|2003||A Mighty Wind||Jonathan Steinbloom|
|2004||Marie and Bruce||Roger|
|2005||Trust the Man||Tobey's Therapist||Uncredited|
|2006||Lady in the Water||Harry Farber|
|2006||For Your Consideration||Philip Koontz|
|2007||License to Wed||Jewelry Store Clerk||Uncredited|
|2010||Howl||Judge Clayton Horn|
|2011||Thin Ice||Leonard Dahl|
|2011||A Monster in Paris||Inspector Pâté||Voice Only: English Language Version|
|2012||Girl Most Likely||Imogene's Father|
|2014||The Monuments Men||Pvt. Preston Savitz|
|2014||The Grand Budapest Hotel||M. Martin|
|2016||I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House||Mr. Waxcap|
|2018||An L.A. Minute||Shelly|
|2018||Isle of Dogs||King||Voice Only|
|TBA||The French Dispatch||Post-production|
|1965||Hank||Harvey||Episode: "Will The Real Harvey Wheatley Please Stand Up?"|
|1969||Room 222||Grady Garrett||Episode: "Father & Sons"|
|1971–1972||The Mod Squad||Walter / Tony||2 episodes|
|1971||Love, American Style||Nick||Episode: "Love and the Fuzz"|
|1976||Maude||Ambrose Riley||Episode: "Maude's Ex-Convict"|
|1985–1986||Miami Vice||Ira Stone||2 episodes|
|1987||Amazing Stories||Jo-Jo Gillespie||Episode: "Gershwin's Trunk"|
|1990||The Face of Fear||Ira Preduski||Television movie|
|1992–1993||Seinfeld||Russell Dalrymple||5 episodes|
|1995||Legend||Harry Parver||2 episodes|
|1996||The Late Shift||Warren Littlefield||Television movie|
|1998||Friends||Frank Buffay Sr.||Episode: "The One With Joey's Bag"|
|1999||Swing Vote||Justice Eli MacCorckle||Television movie|
|1999||Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Expert Witness"|
|2000||The West Wing||Ted Marcus||Episode: "20 Hours in L.A."|
|2000||Now and Again||Frederick Lizzard||Episode: "Lizzard's Tale"|
|2002||The Education of Max Bickford||Dr. Lowell Sherman||Episode: "I Never Schlunged My Father"|
|2006||Tom Goes to the Mayor||Walt Pickle (voice)||Episode: "The Layover"|
|2007||Entourage||Doctor||Episode: "The Dream Team"|
|2008||Recount||Ben Ginsberg||Television movie|
|2011||Web Therapy||Ted Mitchell||Episode: "Shrink Rap"|
|2011–2012||The Good Wife||Gordon Higgs||2 episodes|
|2013||Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight||Lawyer||Television movie|
|2013||Family Tree||Melvin Schmelff / Tumbleweed Tim||Episode: "Cowboys"|
|2013–2015||Girls||Mr. Rice||3 episodes|
|2014||Alpha House||Senator Elliot Robeson||2 episodes|
|2015–2016||Broad City||Arthur Wexler||2 episodes|
|2015||Last Week Tonight with John Oliver||Himself (as mascot of the ATF)||Episode: "Paid Family Leave"|
|2015||Show Me a Hero||Judge Leonard Burke Sand||4 episodes|
|2016||Last Week Tonight with John Oliver||Crazy Walter||Episode: "Auto Lending"|
|2016||Pitch||Frank Reid||3 episodes|
|2016||Graves||Secretary Burns||Episode: "Nothing Can Come From Nothing"|
|2017||Wormwood||Dr. Harold A. Abramson||4 episodes|
|2018||Condor||Reuel Abbott||Main cast|
|2018||Animals.||Himself (voice)||2 episodes|
|2019||The Politician||Keaton Hobart||Main role|
|2018||Wolverine: The Long Night||Joseph Langrock|
|1983||Tales from the Darkside||Episode: "Trick or Treat (Pilot)"|
|1983||The Brass Ring||Television movie|
|1985||Amazing Stories||Episode: "Fine Tuning"|
|1987||Invisible Thread||Television movie|
|1991–1992||Eerie, Indiana||3 episodes|
|1993||My Boyfriend's Back|
|1994||The Last Good Time|
|1995||Legend||Episode: "Revenge of the Herd"|
|1997||Subway Stories: Tales from the Underground||Television movie; segment: "The 5:24"|
|1998||Oz||Episode: "Great Men"|
|1999||Strangers with Candy||Episode: "Jerri Is Only Skin Deep"|
|2000||Now and Again||Episode: "Lizzard's Tale"|
|2001||Dead Last||2 episodes|
|2002–2003||The Twilight Zone||2 episodes|
|2005||The Exonerated||Television movie|
|2008||Bernard and Doris||Television movie|
|2008||Swingtown||Episode: "Go Your Own Way"|
|2009||Georgia O'Keefe||Television movie|
|2011–2012||Nurse Jackie||4 episodes|
|2013–2014||Alpha House||3 episodes|
- Balaban, David. The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz, Arcadia Publishing, 2006
- Balaban, Bob. Spielberg, Truffaut & Me: An Actor's Diary, Titan Books, 1978 (revised 2002)
- "Bob Balaban profile". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Being Bob Balaban: From Downton Abbey to The Monuments Men – is the actor the best-connected person in Hollywood?". 8 February 2014.
- "Bob Balaban profile". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
- P., Ken (March 3, 2003). "An Interview with Bob Balaban". IGN. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Bob Balaban profile. Films in Review. 40. National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 1989. p. 92. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
- Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, 2006 documentary film
- "Bob Balaban Gets "Exonerated"". Fred Entertainment. December 3, 2003. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Paramount Studios – History". theStudioTour.com. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- HB Studio Alumni
- The New York Times: "Realistic Idealists" by Alex Williams September 11, 1995
- "Original Cast: "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"". Bestcareanywhere.net. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Sterritt, David. "The Strawberry Statement (1970)". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved 8 December 2018.
- Littlefield, Warren. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. New York: Anchor Books. pp. 220–21. ISBN 978-0-307-73976-6.
- "Bob Balaban Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "AFER Announces New Additions to All-Star Cast of "8"" (Press release). American Foundation for Equal Rights. September 8, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "8: A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality". YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Gray, Stephen (March 1, 2012). "YouTube to broadcast Proposition 8 play live". pinknews.co.uk. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Mogol, Allen (2015-02-23). "Broadway Direct". broadwaydirect.com. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
- PlayingOnAir (2016-01-24). "New Podcast! MILTON BRADLEY by Peter Sagal". Playing On Air. Archived from the original on 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
- Bob Balaban (August 1, 2002). Beware of Dog (McGrowl #1). Scholastic, Inc. ISBN 0439401372.
- O Malley, Sheila. "The Sheila Variations". Sheila O Malley. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Sink or Swim". FantasticFiction. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Tirdad Derakhshani, HBO's 'Show Me a Hero': Intelligent but hardly heroic, Philadelphia Inquirer (August 16, 2015).
- Denise Petski (April 12, 2017). "'Condor': William Hurt & Bob Balaban To Topline Audience Network Series; Full Cast Set". Deadline magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2018.