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R.I.P. Bob Einstein, better known as Super Dave Osborne

Image: The Everett Collection

Einstein is a big name to live up to, especially if your first name is Albert. No wonder comedian Albert Einstein changed his name to Albert Brooks when entering showbiz at the age of 19. Albert's older brother, Bob, also went Hollywood but kept the family surname. Still, you likely know Bob Einstein better as Super Dave Osborne.

Super Dave, a spoof of Evel Knievel, first appeared on The John Byner Comedy Hour in 1972. With his star-spangled jumpsuit, Super Dave was just like Evel Knievel — only his stunts never succeeded. The joke was, he always seems to suffer some terrible injury. Einstein's deadpan demeanor made the bumbling stuntman even funnier and more endearing. You always rooted for the guy, even if you knew he'd fail.

Over the years, the character continued to appear in sketch comedy series, late-night talk shows, Hollywood Squares, Nike commercials and the occasional professional wrestling match. Super Dave made many appearances on both The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman throughout the 1980s. These hilarious skits led to a full series, Super Dave, which aired from 1987–91 on Showtime. A cartoon, Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire, followed in 1992.

The physical humor of Super Dave was equaled by his written bits. For example, his safety equipment included "genuine Saskatchewan seal-skin bindings." And no wonder, Einstein started his career as a writer, penning skits for classic comedy showcases such as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. He earned two Emmy Awards for his writing.

In recent years, Einstein became a wonderful character actor, using that same deadpan demeanor, playing both Marty Funkhouser in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry Middleman on Arrested Development.

On Wednesday, January 2, younger brother Albert Brooks announced the death of Bob Einstein on Twitter. He was 76 years old.


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