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Robert Elmer "Bob" Balaban (born August 16, 1945) is an American actor, author, producer, and director.


Balaban was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eleanor (nA(C)e 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 and Katz operated some of the most beautiful movie palaces in the United States beginning in the 1920s. Balaban's father 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 MGM beginning in 1936. Sam had been early partners with Bob's uncles Abe, Barney, John, and Max in forming Balaban and Katz. Sam also 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 lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. He is Jewish. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Russia to Chicago, while his mother's family was from Germany, Russia, and Romania.
One of his earliest appearances in film was in 1969's Midnight Cowboy. 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 Orr in Catch-22 and the interpreter David Laughlin in the 1977 Steven Spielberg science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In 19

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Bob Balaban Latest News

The Grand Budapest Hotel star Bob Balaban: I'm Hollywood's best-kept secret

You'll know the face but you might not know the name: Bob Balaban, actor, producer, writer, director and one of the best connected men in Hollywood. Like a lucky charm he has appeared in some of the most successful movies of the last few decades; amongst ...
Posted: March 9, 2014, 1:11 pm

Bob Balaban On The Magic Of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

In the beginning of Wes Anderson's new movie "Moonrise Kingdom," Bob Balaban appears on a desolate New England island looking a bit like one of Santa's helpers. As the movie's narrator, he sets the scene for what's to come: an emotionally subtle but ...
Posted: June 1, 2012, 8:29 am

‘Condor’: William Hurt & Bob Balaban To Topline Audience Network Series; Full Cast Set

Hurt will play Bob Partridge, a decorated field operative ... up with out-of-the-box solutions to some of the United States’ most intractable problems. Balaban is Reuel Abbott, a brilliant and exacting man who has risen to the top tier of CIA management ...
Posted: April 12, 2017, 5:00 am
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