Bob Elliott, of comic duo Bob and Ray, dies at 92

PORTLAND, Maine -- Bob Elliott, half of the enduring television and radio comedy team Bob and Ray, has died, He was 92.

See Full Article

Elliott, father of actor-comedian Chris Elliott, died Tuesday at his home in Cundy's Harbor, Maine, part of the town of Harpswell, Rick Gagne, director of the Brackett Funeral Home, said Wednesday.

The cause of death wasn't made public.

For nearly 45 years, until the death of Elliott's comedy partner Ray Goulding, Bob and Ray entertained millions of radio listeners and television viewers.

"He was the kindest, most gentle man I knew, and obviously the funniest. He was a true renaissance man," Chris Elliott ("Groundhog Day," David Letterman's "Late Show" and "Late Night") said in a statement on behalf of the family.

"I would be happy if I could be just half the man he was," he said. "And since I'm speaking for my siblings, I know my brother -- and all my sisters for that matter -- would be happy if they could be half the man he was too."

Chris Elliott's daughters are Abby Elliott, who was a "Saturday Night Live" cast member for four seasons, and actress Bridey Elliott.

"RIP Bob Elliott, the great&funny man who begat Chris Elliott, who begat ?åòelliottdotabby & ?åòbrideylee," Jimmy Kimmel posted on his Twitter account.

Judd Apatow tweeted, "Go listen to Bob and Ray! They are the funniest. Timeless, brilliant comedy."

Bob and Ray practiced a gentle, quirky brand of comedy that relied not on one-liners or boffo jokes but rather a deadpan delivery that relentlessly skewered pomposity and seriousness.

"I guess it's the hilarity of pomposity; that hasn't gone out of fashion," Elliott said when asked to explain the enduring nature of their humour. Goulding added: "We magnify the insignificant. You know, flourishes and bands accompanying the opening of a sandwich."

The team won a prestigious Peabody Award in 1956. "They deal primarily in satire, that rare and precious commodity," the judges wrote. "Their aim is deadly, their level is high, and their material is fresh, original, imaginative, and terribly funny."

Following Goulding's death in 1990, Elliott remained active as a solo performer, appearing regularly throughout the '90s on television and occasionally in films. He played Bob Newhart's father on the series "Newhart" and his own son Chris' father on "Get a Life." He also appeared in the films "Quick Change" and "Cabin Boy."

He had also worked solo occasionally during the team's long run, appearing in the film "Author Author" and in a handful of TV movies.

He and his late partner were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bob and Ray's long partnership began at Boston radio station WHDH in 1946 when Goulding, after delivering the news on Elliott's music program, began to stick around and swap anecdotes with the host.

"When we first began, it was 90 per cent ad lib," Elliott recalled in 1992. "A good part of what we did involved two or three hours of playing records, and the records gave you time to think of what to do next."

Listeners demanded more, however, and the station soon scheduled "Matinee with Bob and Ray." It offered offbeat comments on the day's news, fables about fictitious characters and bogus contest offers.

In a biography of Bob and Ray admirer Woody Allen, Eric Lax wrote that Elliott and Goulding "created thousands of perfectly oddball characters. ... They manipulated language the way Satchel Paige manipulated baseballs."

One elaborate joke, put on during the early days of TV, pretended to offer phoney television antennas for sale to radio listeners who wanted to impress their neighbours.

"Try to be a phoney in your neighbourhood," the ads proclaimed. "If you're going to be a phoney, be a good one."

The pair made their own move to television in 1951 with the "Bob and Ray" show. Unlike Sid Caesar, Milton Berle and other early TV comedians, they did not attract a mass audience. But their low-key humour, once described by The New York Times as "outrageously innocuous," was cherished by a devoted following.

Their show rarely dealt with topical matters, an exception coming during the Red-hunting days of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Then, during a soap opera parody that took place in the small town of "Skunk Hollow," they introduced a blustering Commissioner Carstairs, who waved a list of names of supposed miscreants he threatened to expose.

The program, which also featured Cloris Leachman and Audrey Meadows as regulars, ended in 1953.

In New York City, meanwhile, Elliott and Goulding continued to thrive. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen television shows and won a regular spot on NBC's "Today Show." They also appeared on Broadway in "Bob and Ray, The Two and Only" and released record albums and books of their comedy sketches.

Born in Boston, Elliott attended the Feagan School of Drama and Radio.

After an early first marriage to June Underwood ended in divorce, he married Lee Knight in 1954 and they had five children: Colony, Shannon, Amy, Robert Jr. and Christopher.

------

AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

------

Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Despite Spotify change, R. Kelly's streams still intact

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Streaming numbers for R. Kelly have remained intact a week after Spotify announced it had removed the R&B singer's music from its playlists, citing its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Source
  • Kensington Palace shares family portrait, other royal wedding photos

    Entertainment CBC News
    Kensington Palace has released three official wedding photographs taken of Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle shortly after their wedding. Alexi Lubomirski's images include a family portrait of the couple with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and their spouses, as well as Markle's mother and the children who served as bridesmaids and page boys. Source
  • Billboard Awards show honours Texas and Florida school shooting victims

    Entertainment CBC News
    The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in Texas and Florida, while the night also featured show-stopping performances by iconic singer Janet Jackson and K-pop group BTS. Source
  • Taylor Swift is doing more to stop scalpers than Ontario's new ticket act: experts

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Step aside Ontario lawmakers, because Taylor Swift is giving you a lesson in how to deflect concert scalpers. As the province gets ready to introduce a new law on July 1 which puts a price cap on resales of live-event tickets, experts say it's the world-famous pop singer who's doing a better job squeezing out black-market opportunists. Source
  • Why Book Club's Canadian co-writer resisted when told to go 'younger'

    Entertainment CBC News
    It started as a gag gift and turned into a movie script. Canadian Erin Simms sent a copy of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey to her mother and stepmom in 2012 when the erotic romance trilogy was gaining popularity. The idea came from Bill Holderman, a co-worker who would soon become her co-writer and director for the script of the film Book Club. Source
  • School victims honoured at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

    Entertainment CTV News
    The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in Texas and Florida, while the night also featured show-stopping performances by iconic singer Janet Jackson and K-pop group BTS. Source
  • Janet Jackson, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande set for Billboard Awards

    Entertainment CBC News
    After celebrating her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking janet. album, Janet Jackson will be capping off an epic week with her first televised performance in nine years at the Billboard Music Awards. Jackson will also receive the Icon Award on Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where today's hitmakers will also take the stage, from Ariana Grande to John Legend. Source
  • 'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in $125M

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers. Fox's "Deadpool 2" brought in $125 million according to studio estimates Sunday and ended the three-week reign of Disney's "Avengers: Infinity War" at the top of the North American box office. Source
  • 'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in US$125M

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers. Fox's "Deadpool 2" brought in US$125 million this weekend, giving it the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie and ending the three-week reign of Disney's "Avengers: Infinity War" at the top of the North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. Source
  • Saturday Night Live re-imagines royal wedding reception

    Entertainment CBC News
    The royal reception of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was off-limits to reporters, but Saturday Night Live gave commoners a glimpse of what it might have been like.After delighting crowds, newlyweds Meghan and Prince Harry celebrate at private receptionIn a sketch during the comedy show's season finale, Mikey Day played Prince Harry in what he called the "official wedding video 2018. Source