John Byner

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John Byner
John Byner 1976.jpg
Byner in 1976.
Born (1938-06-28) June 28, 1938 (age 76)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Film, television actor
Spouse(s) Eleanor Belcher (1960-1989; divorced)
Sally Fisher (1982-1983; divorced)
Ksenia Prohaska (1985-?)
Anne Gaybis (since 1992)

John Byner (born June 28, 1938) is an American actor, comedian, and impressionist who has had a lengthy television and movie career. His voice work includes the cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark, in which the title characters are voiced by Byner's impressions of Dean Martin and Jackie Mason, respectively.

Personal life[edit]

Byner was born John Biener in New York City, the son of Christina, a mental hospital attendant, and Michael Biener, a truck mechanic.[1] He is currently married to his fourth wife, Anne Gaybis, and has at least four children from his first marriage. His first wife was Eleanor Belcher and his third wife was Croatian actress/singer Ksenia Prohaska. His biography fails to give the name of his second wife, but according to IMDb, it is listed as Sally Fisher.

Career[edit]

On The Ed Sullivan Show, where he made his first early TV appearances, he mimicked Ed Sullivan as well as anyone, including the "master" Sullivan impersonator, Will Jordan (in fact, on his album FM & AM, comedian George Carlin used Byner's Sullivan impersonation for his own Sullivan impersonation). His other impressions included John Wayne and he sings as Dean Martin and Johnny Mathis. His ability to mimic "Toastmaster General" George Jessel came in handy during his appearances on panel programs such as celebrity "roasts" and other tributes.[2]

On a 1967 episode of Get Smart, Byner played a KAOS agent who made a phone call to the Chief of CONTROL (played by Edward Platt), performed a perfect impression of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and told the Chief he was fired and replaced with agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). Smart, the Chief and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) foiled this plot to undermine CONTROL, and Byner's character was arrested.

In 1970, he hosted approximately 25 episodes of a syndicated half-hour musical variety series called Something Else. He then hosted his own show in 1972 called the "John Byner Comedy Hour", where the character Super Dave was first introduced. Also that year, he had a cameo appearance in Barbra Streisand's blockbuster comedy film What's Up, Doc?. In the mid-1970s, he guest starred in two episodes of The Odd Couple one entitled, "The New Car", which originally aired on October 19, 1973.[3] In it, he plays an abrasive parking garage owner who has a hilarious encounter with Felix and Oscar. In the late 1970s, he had a featured role as Detective Donahue on the TV series Soap. He was cast in "Happy Days" as Mork from Ork, but found the role ridiculous, and walked away from the part days before shooting. Robin Williams was called in at the last minute, and this proved to be a career making part for the comedian.[citation needed]

In the 1980s he hosted the Canadian TV comedy series, Bizarre. That show re-introduced many people to hapless daredevil Super Dave Osborne, played by Bob Einstein. In 1983 he had a role as "Doc", who was Burt Reynolds's longtime childhood friend in the movie Stroker Ace. In 1985, Disney's animated feature The Black Cauldron was released, featuring Byner voicing the characters Gurgi and Doli. He was also a regular celebrity guest on Hollywood Squares during the John Davidson years and later hosted the 1988-89 syndicated game show Relatively Speaking. Over the years he has done straight acting work and also light characters in otherwise serious dramas, such as the mostly harmless con artist "Cotton Dunn" in the 1990s cop series Silk Stalkings and appeared in the PBS 1994 Halloween special Lamb Chop in the Haunted Studio.

In 2007, he appeared on Late Show with David Letterman's Impressionist Week 2, in a fitting situation similar to his earlier appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

In 2008, he starred in RoboDoc.

Television[edit]

A Wish for Wings That Work animated special, voice of Bill the Cat[4]

Cartoon Series[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]