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Bob Balaban

Bob Balaban's career in front of the cameras now spans over three decades. He has also pursued a second vocation behind the camera as a successful director and producer of both films and television.

The Chicago native, you could say, almost inherited his roots in the entertainment world. Born into a family of showmen, his father and his uncles established the Balaban & Katz movie chain in Chicago (where a young Balaban once ushered). His uncle, Barney Balaban, was President of Paramount Pictures. And his grandfather, Sam Katz, headed production at MGM for many years.

In high school, he studied with Chicago's famous Second City troupe before heading to New York and studies at Colgate and New York University. While a student at NYU, he created the role of Linus in the off-Broadway musical hit, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. He continued his career on the stage in numerous productions both on-and-off Broadway, notably Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, Joe Papp's staging of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and David Mamet's Speed the Plough. He earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Ossip, the 95-year-old servant, in The Inspector General.

Balaban made his motion picture debut in John Schlesinger's Academy Award winning Midnight Cowboy (as the homosexual who propositions Jon Voight's title character in the movie theater). He next co-starred in Mike Nichols' acclaimed Catch 22, playing Captain Orr.

He has gone on to work with such respected filmmakers as Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Sydney Pollack (Absence of Malice), Sidney Lumet (Prince of the City), John Badham (Whose Life Is It, Anyway?), Ken Russell (Altered States) as well as Tim Robbins (The Cradle Will Rock, Bob Roberts), Christopher Guest (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman) and Woody Allen (Alice, Deconstructing Harry). Balaban's credits also include co-starring opposite Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt in The Mexican, co-starring opposite Robin Williams in Jakob the Liar, 2010, Clockwatchers, Ghost World and will next be seen in Plan B opposite Diane Keaton and Robert Altman's Gosford Park (on which he also serves as a co-producer).

Balaban commenced his secondary career behind the cameras when he directed his first work -- a witty short entitled SPFX 1140. His feature debut was the 1989 black comedy, Parents and his most recent motion picture was the acclaimed romantic drama, The Last Good Time, for which Balaban won Best Film and Best Director awards at the Hamptons Film Festival and the Avignon Film Festival. The latter was also screened at several global film festivals, most notably Deauville in France, Edinburgh in Scotland and Shanghai.

Balaban has also directed episodes of such television shows as HBO's prison drama, Oz, Now and Again, HBO's Subway Stories, Deadline, Lateline, Dead Last, When I Grow Up, the pilot for the long running Tales from the Darkside and the Steven Spielberg production, Amazing Stories. He has appeared on television in guest-starring roles on Seinfeld and Friends, HBO's The Late Shift and the ABC telefilm, Swing Vote.

In addition to his career as an actor and director, Balaban recently ventured into producing with the critically acclaimed musical comedy review, Pageant, which had its Chicago premiere in March of 2001 and Robert Altman's new movie Gosford Park, in which he also appears. He has several movies in development as well as a ½ hour television series at Imagine.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Bob Balaban Facts

Birth NameRobert Elmer Balaban
BirthdayAugust 16, 1945 (78)
BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA
Height5' 5" (1m65)  How tall is Bob Balaban compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Bernard and Doris
My Boyfriend's Back
Great Men
The Exonerated
Orchids and Salami
One-Armed Jacks
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