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Joey Bishop, comic, Rat Packer dead at 89

first_imgThat approach pleased Sinatra, who first saw Bishop perform in the early 1950s, at the Latin Quarter in Manhattan. Sinatra asked him to open for him at Bill Miller’s Riviera, a club in Fort Lee, N.J. Soon he was regularly opening for Sinatra and known as “Sinatra’s comic.” He also began getting jobs in first-rate clubs even when Sinatra was not on the bill. He got laughs one night when, in the middle of a performance at the Copacabana in Manhattan, Marilyn Monroe suddenly appeared, swathed in white ermine. Bishop was quick. “Marilyn, I told you to sit in the truck,” he said. Another time he told an audience how he had gotten a small role in the movie “The Naked and the Dead.” He “played both parts,” he said. Joey Bishop was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb in the Bronx on Feb. 3, 1918, the fifth child and third son of Jacob Gottlieb and the former Anna Siegel, immigrants from Eastern Europe. When Joey was 3 months old, Jacob Gottlieb moved his family to Philadelphia, where he worked odd jobs and ran a bicycle shop. Bishop’s sitcom, “The Joey Bishop Show,” about a talk-show host, had a rocky run: first broadcast on NBC in 1961, it was canceled in 1964, then taken over by CBS until that network also canceled it, in 1965. ABC then asked him to create “The Joey Bishop Show” in real life as a late-night response to Carson’s show. It had its debut in April 1967.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Joey Bishop, the long-faced comedian and last surviving member of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra’s celebrated retinue of the 1960s, died Wednesday night at his home in Newport Beach He was 89. There were multiple causes, said his longtime publicist, Warren Cowan. Bishop was the least flamboyant of the Rat Pack and no match for the others – Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sinatra himself – in their dedication to hell raising. But he shared in their phenomenal success in the early 1960s, when they headlined music and comedy shows in Las Vegas, appearing at the Sands, and made such movies as “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Sergeants 3.” When John F. Kennedy, a friend of Sinatra’s and a brother-in-law of Lawford’s, was elected president in 1960, Bishop was master of ceremonies at the inaugural ball. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Bishop, a regular guest on television as a stand-up comedian, eventually had his own TV shows: a sitcom in which he played a talk-show host and later his own actual talk show, appearing on ABC in a short-lived challenge to Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” His sidekick on the set was a young Regis Philbin, now a host of his own syndicated morning talk show, “Live With Regis and Kelly.” In his vigorous years, when he was known as “the Frown Prince” and his income and fame were substantial, Bishop indulged himself in a Rolls-Royce and a speedboat. But he seemed happiest when he was playing golf with his fellow comedians Buddy Hackett, Phil Foster and Dick Shawn. And unlike the others in the Pack, he remained married to the same woman, the former Sylvia Ruzga, for 58 years, until her death in 1999. They had a son, Larry, who became a comic actor and is now a director and producer. Bishop is also survived by two grandchildren and his companion, Nora Garabotti. Bishop suggested at times that though he was grateful for all that Sinatra had done for his career, including seeing to it that he got roles in Rat Pack movies, he felt that he was more the mascot of the Pack than a full-fledged member. A 2002 biography of him, by Michael Seth Starr, was titled “Mouse in the Rat Pack.” “But even the mascot gets to carry the ball, too,” Bishop said, and many sources credit him with writing bright material for the rest of the Pack. Bishop had a talent for ad-libbing, often using his catchphrase, “son of a gun!,” as an all-purpose interjection. He refused to memorize jokes. “The kick is to think quickly,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1966. “It’s a great kick.” last_img

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