Thursday, February 25, 2016
Robert Klein was born in the Bronx, and was raised in a 1950s Bronx Jewish environment. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School, Klein had planned to study medicine; however, he changed his mind during his studies at Alfred University.
After graduating, he studied at the Yale Drama School when he learned about an opportunity to audition for The Second City. In a piece he wrote for the improvisational troupe's book, Klein recalled sitting in a room full of other hopefuls, including Fred Willard.
Klein's audition consisted of an improvisation set with Willard about two guys in a nightclub, which was successful enough to get Klein and Willard hired by Second City. In the spring of 1965, Klein was chosen as a member of Second City. When he returned to New York City a year later, he was cast by Mike Nichols in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree.
Klein has appeared in such movies as The Owl and the Pussycat, Hooper, Primary Colors, Radioland Murders, Ira and Abby, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and The Safety of Objects. He had a recurring role in the TV drama series Sisters. In the 1970s, he hosted Saturday Night Live twice.
Klein starred in HBO's first stand-up comedy special in 1975 during the cable channel's early broadcast days and has continued to appear in several more one-man shows which have typically concluded with his "I can't stop my leg" routine. In 1979, Klein was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in They're Playing Our Song. In 1985, he starred in the "Wordplay" episode of The New Twilight Zone.
Here's a video clip of Klein performing a standup comedy routine on TV in 1973, in which he shared the trials of being a substitute teacher.
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