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Joey Bishop Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (21) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (5)

Born in The Bronx, New York, USA
Died in Newport Beach, California, USA  (multiple organ failure)
Birth NameJoseph Abraham Gottlieb
Nickname The Frown Prince
Height 5' 8½" (1.74 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Perpetually glum standup comedian Joey Bishop was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb on February 3, 1918, in the Bronx, New York. He was the youngest of five children of Chana "Anna" (Siegel) and Jacob Gottlieb, a bicycle repairman. His father was an Austrian Jewish immigrant and his mother was a Romanian Jew. He was raised in Philadelphia and learned while growing up how to tap dance, do imitations and play the mandolin and banjo. Dropping out of high school at 18, he started out in the humor business in vaudeville as part of a comedy act with his brother. Billed as "Joey Gottlieb" at the time, he later joined a comedy group that called themselves "The Bishop Trio" and kept the last name for himself after the team broke up. His nascent career was interrupted while serving in the Army during WWII, but quickly resumed things after his discharge in 1945. He appeared on television as early as 1948, but it took a while before he caught on. A master ad-libber, he became a nitery specialist at such establishments as the Latin Quarter, and served as an opening act for a number of stars, including Frank Sinatra, in the mid-50s. As his reputation increased, he became a steadfast cog on the talk show, sitcom and game show circuits. A frequent and amusing guest panelist on What's My Line? (1950), the jug-eared jokester went on to guest-host on the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) a record 177 times. He also frequently appeared as a guest for Steve Allen and Jack Paar in their earlier late-nite formats.

Bishop entered the sitcom venue in the early 1960s. On his first show, The Joey Bishop Show (1961), he played Joey Barnes, the host of a TV talk show in New York. Abby Dalton came on board in the second season as wife Ellie. Among his co-stars were up-and-coming stars Bill Bixby and Marlo Thomas and such character veterans as Joe Besser, of The Three Stooges fame, and Mary Treen were brought aboard for stronger support. This popular show lasted four seasons. Life imitated art several years later when Bishop went on to compete against Carson for the late-night viewing audience with his own talk show The Joey Bishop Show (1967) for ABC. The show was no match for Carson, however, and quickly dwindled in ratings, fading away after two years. His co-host/sidekick/foil was none other than Regis Philbin. Dick Cavett eventually replaced him to fill the ABC midnight void.

Relatively overlooked for his work on film, Bishop did show some promise early in the game with occasional straight roles that veered away from his sarcastic comedy demeanor with such roles in The Deep Six (1958), The Naked and the Dead (1958) and Onionhead (1958). He would also generate public interest as the less-than-slick member of Hollywood's "Rat Pack", which was comprised of ultra-hip pals Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford. Known as "Sinatra's comic" at one time (for having frequently opened for the star), Bishop wrote material and serving as the emcee for many of the clan's Las Vegas shows in the 1960s. In addition he appeared in the "Rat Pack"-oriented movies Ocean's 11 (1960) and Sergeants 3 (1962), but the straight-laced comedian later butted heads with the party-hearty Sinatra and split while the next film Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) was in preparation. Elsewhere, he appeared as either a foil, sidekick, or guest cameos in such standard movies as Johnny Cool (1963), Texas Across the River (1966) with Dean Martin, Who's Minding the Mint? (1967) and even Valley of the Dolls (1967).

Once his late night TV show folded he returned to night clubs for a time but gradually withdrew more and more from the show-biz limelight in the 1970s. He appeared in only three films after this point -- The Delta Force (1986), Betsy's Wedding (1990) and Mad Dog Time (1996) -- and showing up on a rare occasion as a TV guest. Married to Sylvia Ruzga since 1941, their son Larry Bishop is an actor-turned-director and producer. Long retired and the last surviving "Rat Pack" member after Sinatra's death in 1998, his wife Sylvia of 58 years died of cancer in 1999. Joey, in failing health for some time, died of multiple organ failure on October 17, 2007, at his Newport Beach, California home.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Sylvia Olga Ruzga (14 January 1942 - 20 September 1999) (her death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

The catchphrase "Son of a gun!"
Frequently worked with fellow Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra., Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford

Trivia (21)

Member of the "Rat Pack"--himself, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford. All appear in Ocean's 11 (1960).
Father of actor Larry Bishop.
Received a citation from Pope John XXIII for his help with the Boys Towns throughout Italy.
Weighed 2 lbs, 14 oz, at birth. At the time was the smallest baby ever born at Fordham Hospital in New York City.
While he performed as the "straight man" during the famous "Rat Pack" performances in Las Vegas, he wrote much of the material.
Guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) more than anyone else, doing so 177 times.
Was a regular on the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts".
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald S. Smith, pg. 53-54. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
His professional surname, Bishop, was taken from the last name of a chauffeur friend of his in his early days in show business.
He and the other members of the Rat Pack were banned from Marilyn Monroe's funeral by Joe DiMaggio.
Is portrayed by Bobby Slayton in The Rat Pack (1998)
Some time after his wife's death, Nora Garbotti became his constant companion.
One of his biggest passions was simply playing golf with his comic cronies Buddy Hackett, Phil Foster and Dick Shawn.
Comedian/producer Danny Thomas was so impressed with Bishop that he had a weekly sitcom built around Bishop in the early 1960s.
During his "Rat Pack" peak, he was asked by Frank Sinatra to be the master of ceremonies for President John F. Kennedy's inaugural gala.
Was the last surviving member of "The Rat Pack".
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as the title character in The Joey Bishop Show (1961).
Acting mentor and friend of Abby Dalton.
Interviewed in "The Great Comedians Talk About Comedy" by Larry Wilde. [1968]
Patrick Fischler used Bishop as his major influence for the Jimmy Barrett character in the series Mad Men (2007), as he wanted Barrett's humor to have a charming element to it even while he was being insulting or mean.
In the late 1940s he had a nightclub comedy act with Jack Soo.

Personal Quotes (2)

The kick [of comedy] is to think quickly. It's a great kick.
I don't consider success doing a show for 30 years; I'm sorry. To me, you're successful when you graduate from something. I did a series, I did a talk show, I did movies, I replaced Mickey Rooney [on Broadway] in "Sugar Babies." You understand?

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