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David Steinberg

David Steinberg

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: producer, director, actor, comedian

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The multi-talented David Steinberg first gained notoriety with his cutting edge comedy on television programs like "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS/ABC, 1967-1970), only to find a second career later in life as a director on series such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-2011). After learning his craft with Chicago's venerated comedy troupe Second City, Steinberg made the move to New York City where he landed roles on Broadway and headlined a successful nightclub act at Manhattan's Bitter End. The young comedian ruffled more than a few feathers with his religion-skewering routine on "The Smothers Brothers," although it led to a fruitful relationship with Johnny Carson, on whose "Tonight Show" (NBC, 1962-1992) he made frequent visits for decades. He headlined his own comedy series, "The David Steinberg Show" (CBS, 1972), and co-starred with Susan Sarandon in the film "Something Short of Paradise" (1979) prior to launching his directorial career with the Burt Reynolds feature "Paternity" (1981). Steinberg found his niche in the 1980s when he began helming episodes of series such as "Newhart" (CBS, 1982-1990) and "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986-1993), and his stint as the host of "Sit Down Comedy...

The multi-talented David Steinberg first gained notoriety with his cutting edge comedy on television programs like "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS/ABC, 1967-1970), only to find a second career later in life as a director on series such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-2011). After learning his craft with Chicago's venerated comedy troupe Second City, Steinberg made the move to New York City where he landed roles on Broadway and headlined a successful nightclub act at Manhattan's Bitter End. The young comedian ruffled more than a few feathers with his religion-skewering routine on "The Smothers Brothers," although it led to a fruitful relationship with Johnny Carson, on whose "Tonight Show" (NBC, 1962-1992) he made frequent visits for decades. He headlined his own comedy series, "The David Steinberg Show" (CBS, 1972), and co-starred with Susan Sarandon in the film "Something Short of Paradise" (1979) prior to launching his directorial career with the Burt Reynolds feature "Paternity" (1981). Steinberg found his niche in the 1980s when he began helming episodes of series such as "Newhart" (CBS, 1982-1990) and "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986-1993), and his stint as the host of "Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg" (TV Land, 2005-07) provided him a forum in which he conversed with television's brightest comedic talents. Years of experience as a comedian, actor, writer and director all served to make Steinberg one of the most respected comedic talents in film and television, both in front of and behind the camera.

Born David Steinberg on Aug. 9, 1942, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to his mother, Ruth, and his father, Yascha, a stern Romanian-born rabbi, he was raised in Chicago, IL after the family moved there while he was still quite young. As a teen, Steinberg had intended to follow in his father's footsteps by attending Illinois' Hebrew Theological College. Plans changed over the course of one evening, however, when he saw legendary comedian Lenny Bruce perform at a Chicago nightclub. He then enrolled in the literature program at Chicago State University, from which he eventually earned an MFA. A trip with a college friend to see a performance at the renowned Second City Theater prompted Steinberg to start a comedy act of his own, and after a member from Second City saw his act, Steinberg was asked to join the improvisational comedy troupe in 1964. He honed his craft at Second City for several years before making the move to New York City in pursuit of an acting career. Steinberg initially made headway when he appeared on Broadway in director Jules Feiffer's "Little Murders" (1967) and "Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights" (1968), directed by Sidney Poitier. Additionally, he made his feature film debut opposite Jon Voight in "Fearless Frank" (1969), a silly comedy directed by Phillip Kaufman in Chicago years prior and released in an effort to cash in on Voight's then growing fame.

While neither the stage performances, nor the low-budget film drew much attention, Steinberg's popular stand-up act at New York's Bitter End nightclub earned him favorable notices from the likes of The New York Times in 1969. This notoriety led to the young comedian's recurring appearances on the influential variety show "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS/ABC, 1967-1970). Steinberg's sketches on the program featured two popular characters, the first being the "mad psychiatrist," with his observation of "Boogah, boogah!" - which became a popular catchphrase in its day, as well as the title of a Steinberg comedy album some years later. The second, more controversial character he originated for the Smothers Brothers was the unconventional theologian whose mock sermons so enraged the establishment, that many later speculated it was Steinberg's act that contributed to the cancellation of the groundbreaking show. Suddenly, he was at the very epicenter of hip pop-culture, being invited for guest appearances on such edgy programs as Hugh Hefner's swanky variety talk show "Playboy After Dark" (syndicated, 1969-1970), and hosting the pop music show "The Music Scene" (ABC, 1969-1970). Steinberg's association with the Smothers Brothers became a stepping stone to appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992), a long-lasting relationship that elicited regular appearances opposite the iconic host - second in number only to Bob Hope - until Carson's retirement in 1992.

Briefly serving as a mid-summer replacement, "The David Steinberg Show" (CBS, 1972), was later re-vamped on Canadian television in the mid-1970s with a supporting cast that included Second City alums such as John Candy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and Joe Flaherty. With its premise set behind the scenes of a fictional talk show, it presaged fellow comedic actor Garry Shandling's similarly themed series "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98) by decades. Amidst appearances on various talk, variety, and game shows, Steinberg made infrequent returns to acting in features such as "The End" (1978), a black comedy starring Burt Reynolds as a dying man unsuccessfully attempting suicide. He also took on a rare leading role opposite Susan Sarandon in the romantic comedy "Something Short of Paradise" (1979), turning in a performance that critic Leonard Maltin characterized as "obnoxious." Shortly thereafter, he tried his luck behind the camera, making his feature film directorial debut with the comedy drama "Paternity" (1981), starring his old friend Burt Reynolds as a man looking to father a child without having to get married. He then reteamed with is former Second City cohorts, John Candy, Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy when he helmed his next picture, "Going Berserk" (1983), an oddball comedy, which he also co-wrote.

Although he kept busy with various projects in other capacities, directorial work - on television in particular - would become the mainstay of Steinberg's résumé throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning with episodes of comedies such as "Newhart" (CBS, 1982-1990), in addition to more work on "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-1992), "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94) and "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986-1993), for which he also served as executive producer during its final season. He continued helming episodes of the next generation of successful sitcoms with frequent turns in the director's chair for shows like "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), "Mad About You" (1992-99), and "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004). Back on the big screen, Steinberg directed Dave Foley and Jennifer Tilly in the fugitive comedy "The Wrong Guy" (1997), in addition to several installments of Larry David's hit comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-2011 ), beginning with its first season. He hosted and produced "Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg" (TV Land, 2005-07), an informal chatfest with popular comedic actors whose careers were launched on television. Over the course of the next decade, Steinberg became one of a handful of "go-to guys" interviewed for documentaries covering the pop-culture events and figures from the 1960s and '70s, including "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel" (2010) and "The Battle for Late Night" (A&E, 2010), the latter of which examined the history of late night talk shows.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Switching Goals (1999) Director
2.
  Wrong Guy, The (1997) Director
3.
  Casey at the Bat (1986) Director
4.
  Going Berserk (1983) Director
5.
  Paternity (1981) Director
6.
  Seinfeld: The Chronicle (1998) Clip Director
9.
  Coconut Downs (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Epic Movie (2007)
3.
4.
 Love and Sex (2000) Tiny Man
5.
 Bread and Roses (2000) Lawyer
6.
 My Giant (1998) Himself
7.
 Willow (1988) Meegosh
8.
 Something Short of Paradise (1979) Harris Soane
9.
 The End (1978) Marty Lieberman
10.
 But... Seriously (1994)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in Winnepeg, Canada
1957:
Went to Chicago at age 15 as a Yeshiva student (date approximate)
:
Joined Second City Troupe in the early 60s
1966:
Made NYC stage debut as member of Second City Troupe in "The Return of the Second City in '20,000 Frozen Grenadiers'"
1966:
Began career as actor with replacement role in Off-Broadway's "The Mad Show"
1967:
Broadway debut as Kenny Newquist in Jules Feiffer's "Little Murders"
1967:
Feature acting debut in "Fearless Frank" (filmed in Chicago in 1965, was also Jon Voight's first pic)
1968:
Acted on Broadway in "Carry Me Back to Morniside Heights", directed by Sidney Poitier
:
THE NEW YORK TIMES critic Dan Sullivan showed up at NYC's Bitter End and declared Steinberg "the most original comedian in years"
:
Wrote and performed for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS); his "sermons" contributed to show's being cancelled
1969:
First appeared on "The Tonight Show"
1969:
Writer and host for ABC's "The Music Scene"
1970:
Appeared on "The Return of the Smothers Brothers" special (NBC)
1972:
Starred in CBS summer comedy variety series, "The David Steinberg Show"
:
"The David Steinberg Show" in Canada introduced Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and John Candy, who comprised the unforgettable "SCTV" troupe
1979:
Cited as "obnoxious" by Leonard Maltin for his role in "Something Short of Paradise"
1981:
Made directorial debut with the feature "Paternity"
1982:
TV directorial debut, an episode of "Newhart" (CBS)
1986:
Directed "Casey at the Bat" for Showtime's "Shelly Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends" series
1988:
Rare performance in a feature, playing Meegosh in Ron Howard's "Willow"
1993:
Became the executive producer of the popular CBS-TV "Designing Women" in January of its last year
1994:
Returned to performing stand-up live
:
Extensive TV credits as executive producer and director throughout 1990s; directed numerous episodes of the popular sitcoms "Seinfeld" and "Mad About You"
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Education

Hebrew Theological College: Skokie , Illinois -
University of Chicago: Chicago , Illinois -

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