Bob Falkenburg

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Bob Falkenburg
Full name Robert Falkenburg
Country  United States
 Brazil
Residence Santa Ynez, California, USA
Born (1926-01-29) January 29, 1926 (age 88)
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Turned pro 1942 (amateur tour)
Retired 1955
Plays Right-handed (1-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 1974 (member page)
Singles
Highest ranking No. 7 (1948, John Olliff)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open 4R (1954)
Wimbledon W (1948)
US Open SF (1946)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon W (1947)
US Open W (1944)

Robert "Bob" Falkenburg (born January 29, 1926) is a former American amateur tennis player and entrepreneur. He is best known for winning the Men's Singles at the 1948 Wimbledon Championships and for introducing soft ice cream and American fast food to Brazil in 1952. He is the founder of the Brazilian fast food chain “Bob's.”[2]

Early life[edit]

Bob Falkenburg was born in New York City on January 29, 1926 and grew up in Los Angeles, California in a tennis playing family.[3] His parents, Eugene “Genie” Lincoln Falkenburg (an engineer involved in the construction of the Hoover Dam) and Marguerite “Mickey” Crooks Falkenburg were amateur tennis players. While employed by Westinghouse, Eugene was transferred to South America, where he moved with his wife and three children to São Paulo, Brazil. There Mickey won the state tennis championship in 1927.[4][5] Mickey was always involved in tennis. In the book “The Game: My 40 Years in Tennis,” renowned tennis champion Jack Kramer wrote that Mickey Falkenburg was “the first person to ever suggest to him the idea of a team-tennis league,” a league which he later created.[6] Bob’s sister, Jinx Falkenburg,[3] a famous American film star/model was also an amateur tennis player and his brother Tom had a successful tennis career as well.[5]

Bob started to play tennis in 1936 when he was 10 years old. Like other known tennis players from Southern California, he frequently played at The Los Angeles Tennis Club in Hollywood, which was located very close to the family home. Bob also played at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he won the junior tennis tournament in 1937 at 11 years of age. As a youngster, Bob participated in different tournaments around the city.[7]

Tennis career[edit]

In 1942 and 1943 while attending Fairfax High School, Bob won the National Interscholastic singles title and won the national doubles title with his brother, Tom.[8] In 1943, Bob became the Los Angeles city singles title holder. The following year he claimed the United States doubles crown with Don McNeill at Forest Hills, NY.[9]

In 1943, Bob became one of the youngest players to enter the US Top 10 amateur ranks. He remained in the US Top 10 for 5 years, whilst he was ranked as high as World No. 7 by John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph.[1]

From 1944 to 1945, during World War II he served in the military as an air cadet. However, being enlisted in the service did not put a complete halt to Bob's tennis career and he continued to occasionally play while in the Air Force. In 1946, while attending the University of Southern California, he won the NCAA singles and doubles titles. He teamed again with his brother Tom Falkenburg to capture that NCAA doubles final.[7][10]

Bob was very agile and was known for his powerful serves. At the age of 20 he was considered to have “the fastest serve in tennis.”[6]

After marrying a Brazilian, Bob moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1950, where he played on the 1954 and 1955 Brazilian Davis Cup teams.[8][11]

Wimbledon titles[edit]

In 1947 he paired with Jack Kramer and together they won the Wimbledon doubles title.[12] A year later, in 1948, Falkenburg reached the pinnacle of his tennis career by winning the Wimbledon singles championship. He won the acclaimed tennis crown, after winning 3 of 5 sets against Australian John Bromwich, who after having taken the fourth set, was confident he would beat Falkenburg. Bromwich had a match point at 5-3 in the fifth set, but Falkenburg fought his way back and did something that tennis players rarely do; he saved three match points and went on to win 7-5 in the fifth set.[8][12][13][14][15]

Falkenburg won Wimbledon because he was not only a great tennis player, but a great strategist. Fellow tennis player Tom Brown, who was a runner up in the 1947 Wimbledon Championships described Bob’s competitive approach, “He would review the situation, figure out what was likely, and take chances.”[12]

Family[edit]

In November 1946, Falkenburg traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a tennis tournament, where he met Brazilian beauty Lourdes “Lou” Mayrink Veiga Machado; they married in 1947. They have two children, Robert Falkenburg II and Claudia Falkenburg-Solt, who is the wife of television and movie producer Andrew Solt. Falkenburg has four grandchildren: Talitha and Robert Falkenburg III; and Joshua and Dakota Solt. He also has two great-grandchildren, Anthony and Patrick Falkenburg.

Hall of Fame Inductions[edit]

Falkenburg has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame, including the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1974, the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985, the Fairfax High School Hall of Fame in 1999,the USC Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

Bob’s restaurants[edit]

Falkenburg was offered a $100,000-a-year professional tennis contract. However, he turned it down and instead decided to open an ice cream and fast food business in Brazil. With $10,000 and a few ice cream machines he brought from the U.S., he was set to open his ice cream shop. It was not easy for him to start his business. He encountered numerous import restrictions, as the Brazilian government would not allow him to import the ingredients to make soft ice cream. He then figured out how to make his own ice cream mixes and toppings. Facing many obstacles to open his business in Rio de Janeiro, Falkenburg never gave up on his idea. Very soon after opening the first ice cream shop near the famed Copacabana beach front in 1952, his business became a huge success. Falkenburg was the first person to introduce soft ice cream to Brazil.[2][16]

A year later, the ice cream shop became a fast food restaurant. The restaurant, called “Bob’s,” was the first fast food restaurant in South America. Bob’s famous menu includes traditional American food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes and sundaes. Because it offered new tastes and a modern look, Bob’s immediately became a hit with the Brazilian glitterati, making Bob’s the most prosperous food business in Brazil[17] and giving Falkenburg earnings far greater than what he would have made as a professional tennis player. Today, Bob’s has over 1,000 locations in Brazil, as well as franchises in 4 other countries.[2][18]

Golf career[edit]

Bob Falkenburg not only found success on the tennis court and fast food industry, but he also had a successful amateur golf career. He played in many international golf championships and won the Brazilian amateur championship three times. He took part in renowned golf tournaments including the Bob Hope Desert Classic, where his team won in 1967; the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, where he played several times; the Eisenhower Cup, where he played for Brazil in Rome in 1964, Mexico City in 1966 and Melbourne in 1968;[19] and the British Amateur Golf Championship, where he led the American contingent on the first qualifying round after having a hole-in-one at Carnoustie, Scotland.[20] Bob had a total of 14 holes-in-one during his life. He also participated as an amateur in various European golf championships in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and several Scandinavian countries.[2]

Recent years[edit]

In 1970, the Falkenburgs moved back to Southern California and in 1974, at the age of 48, he sold the “Bob’s” chain (which at the time had 12 stores) to Libby of Brazil (later acquired by Nestlé). Retired in Los Angeles, Bob spent a lot of time playing golf at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he would often play with former Laker player and good friend Jerry West and others. Later Falkenburg went on to become the president of the club. He and his wife currently reside in Santa Ynez, California.[2][7]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles[edit]

Titles (1)
Result Year Championship Opponents in final Score in final
Winner 1948 Wimbledon Australia John Bromwich 7–5, 0–6, 6–2, 3–6, 7–5

Doubles[edit]

Titles (2), Runner-ups (1)
Result Year Championship Partner Opponents in final Score in final
Winner 1944 U.S. Championships United States Don McNeill United States Pancho Segura
United States Bill Talbert
7–5, 6–4, 3–6, 6–1
Runner-up 1945 U.S. Championships United States Jack Tuero United States Gardnar Mulloy
United States Bill Talbert
10–12, 10–8, 10–12, 2–6
Winner 1947 Wimbledon United States Jack Kramer United Kingdom Tony Mottram
Australia Bill Sidwell
8–6, 6–3, 6–3

Performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950-1953 1954 1955
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian A A A A A A A A A A A
French A A A A A A A A A 4R A
Wimbledon A A A A A QF W QF A 3R A
U.S. 2R 2R QF QF SF QF QF A A A 2R

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 426.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Why Bob's is Brazilian, But Bob is Not". Street Smart Brazil. 
  3. ^ a b "Jinx Falkenburg". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. 
  4. ^ "Marguerite Wagstaff, Painter, Is Dead at 91". The New York Times. October 17, 1990. 
  5. ^ a b Kelly, Charles J. (2009). Tex McCrary : Wars, Women, Politics : An Adventurous Life Across the American Century. Lanham, Md.: Hamilton Books. p. 43. ISBN 978-0761844556. 
  6. ^ a b Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (1981). The Game : My 40 years in Tennis. London: Deutsch. p. 97. ISBN 0233973079. 
  7. ^ a b c Sarah Edworthy (June 26, 2013). "Bob Falkenburg – Champion at Wimbledon and in Business". Wimbledon. 
  8. ^ a b c David L. Porter, ed. (1995). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: 1992-1995 Supplement for Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Other Sports. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 639–640. ISBN 978-0313284311. 
  9. ^ Astheysawit
  10. ^ "Men's Tennis". USC Trojan Athletics. 
  11. ^ "Davis Cup – Player profile". ITF. 
  12. ^ a b c Brown, Tom (2007). As Tom Goes By : A Tennis Memoir. McKinleyville, Calif.: Fithian Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-1564744654. 
  13. ^ "Falkenburg Wins Wimbledon Title Defeating Bromwich in Five Sets". The Montreal Gazette. Jul 3, 1948. p. 9. 
  14. ^ "Wimbledon Title to Falkenburg". Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) (Launceston, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 3 July 1948. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "The Wimbledon Finals". British Pathé. 
  16. ^ "Best Tennis Players from Brazil". Ranker. 
  17. ^ The National Enquirer Newspaper - March 1st, 1966 issue- Pg. 26
  18. ^ "American Sells Burgers, Shakes To Brazilians". Observer-Reporter. Sep 29, 1971. 
  19. ^ "Ex-Netter Says More Pressure In Tourney Golf". Times Daily. Oct 27, 1966. 
  20. ^ "US Qualifiers Are Paced By Falkenburg". Lodi News-Sentinel. Jul 1, 1966. 

Sources[edit]

  • The Game — My 40 Years in Tennis (1979) — Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)