Bob Falkenburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bob Falkenburg
Bob Falkenburg in front of the first Bob's ice-cream shop in Rio de Janeiro in 1952
Full nameRobert Falkenburg
Country (sports) United States
Born(1926-01-29)January 29, 1926
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 6, 2022(2022-01-06) (aged 95)
Santa Ynez, California, U.S.
Height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Turned pro1942 (amateur tour)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1974 (member page)
Highest rankingNo. 7 (1948, John Olliff)[1]
Grand Slam singles results
French Open4R (1954)
WimbledonW (1948)
US OpenSF (1946)
Grand Slam doubles results
WimbledonW (1947)
US OpenW (1944)
Mixed doubles
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
Wimbledon4R (1947)
US OpenF (1945)
Team competitions
Davis CupSFAm (1955)

Robert Falkenburg (January 29, 1926 – January 6, 2022) was an American amateur tennis player and entrepreneur. He is best known for winning the Men's Singles at the 1948 Wimbledon Championships and introducing soft ice cream and American fast food to Brazil in 1952. He founded the Brazilian fast food chain Bob's.[2]

Early life[edit]

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 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 Game: My 40 Years in Tennis, 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] an American film star/model and radio and television talk show host, was also an amateur tennis player and his brother Tom had a successful tennis career as well.[5]

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

Tennis career[edit]

In 1942 and 1943 while attending Fairfax High School, Falkenburg won the National Interscholastic singles title and won the national doubles title with his brother, Tom.[8] In 1943, Falkenburg became the Los Angeles city singles title holder. The following year he claimed the United States doubles crown with Don McNeill at Forest Hills, New York.[9] In 1943 Bob became one of the youngest players to enter the US Top 10 amateur ranks. He remained in the U.S. top 10 for five years and was ranked as World No. 7 by sports journalist John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph.[1] He won the men's singles in the Ojai Tennis Tournament in 1950.[10]

From 1944 to 1945, during World War II, Falkenburg served in the military as an air cadet. Being enlisted in the service, however, did not put a complete halt to his tennis career and he continued to play occasionally 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 to win the NCAA doubles final.[7][11]

At the age of 20, Falkenburg was considered to have "the fastest serve in tennis."[6] After marrying a Brazilian, Lourdes Mayrink Veiga Machado, in 1947 he moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1950, where he played the 1954 and 1955 Brazilian Davis Cup teams.[8][12]

Wimbledon titles[edit]

In 1947, he paired with Jack Kramer and they won the Wimbledon doubles title.[13] 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 against Australian John Bromwich. Bromwich had a match point at 5–3 in the fifth set, but Falkenburg saved three match points and went on to win 7–5 in the fifth set.[8][13][14][15][16]

It took 71 years before Falkenburg's feat was repeated. At Wimbledon in 2019, Novak Djokovic fought off Roger Federer by saving two championship points in the fifth and final set to win the men's title for the fifth time.[17] Falkenburg won Wimbledon because he was not only a great tennis player, but a superb strategist. Fellow tennis player Tom Brown, who was a runner up in the 1947 Wimbledon Championships described Falkenburg's competitive approach, "He would review the situation, figure out what was likely, and take chances."[13]

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 U.S.C. Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2010.[18]

Bob's restaurants[edit]

Falkenburg was offered a $100,000-a-year professional tennis contract. He turned it down and instead opened an ice cream and fast food business in Brazil. Soon after opening the first ice cream shop near the Copacabana beach front in 1952, his business became a success. Falkenburg's soft ice cream was the first introduced to Brazil.[2]

A year later, the ice cream shop became a fast food restaurant. The restaurant, named Bob's, was the first fast food restaurant in South America. Bob's menu includes traditional American food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes and sundaes. Because it offered new tastes and a modern look, Bob's became a hit with the Brazilian glitterati, making Bob's the most prosperous food business in Brazil.[19] As of 2011, Bob's, no longer owned by Falkenburg, has over 600 locations in Brazil as well as three other countries.[2][20]

Golf career[edit]

Falkenburg 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 golf tournaments including the Bob Hope Desert Classic, where his team won in 1967; the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, California, 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;[21] and in the United Kingdom at the British Amateur Golf Championship, where he led the American contingent on the first qualifying round after having a hole-in-one at Carnoustie.[22] He also participated as an amateur in various European golf championships in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and several Scandinavian countries.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1970, the Falkenburgs moved back to Southern California. In 1974, at the age of 48, he sold the Bob's chain (consisting of 12 stores) to Libby of Brazil (later acquired by Nestlé). Retired in Los Angeles, Falkenburg spent much time playing golf at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he often played with former Los Angeles Lakers star and friend Jerry West and others. He became the president of the club. Falkenburg and his wife resided in Santa Ynez, California.[2][7] He died in Santa Ynez on January 6, 2022, at the age of 95.[23]

Grand Slam finals[edit]


Singles (1 title)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1948 Wimbledon Grass Australia John Bromwich 7–5, 0–6, 6–2, 3–6, 7–5

Doubles (2 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1944 U.S. Championships Grass United States Don McNeill United States Pancho Segura
United States Bill Talbert
7–5, 6–4, 3–6, 6–1
Loss 1945 U.S. Championships Grass United States Jack Tuero United States Gardnar Mulloy
United States Bill Talbert
10–12, 10–8, 10–12, 2–6
Win 1947 Wimbledon Grass United States Jack Kramer United Kingdom Tony Mottram
Australia Bill Sidwell
8–6, 6–3, 6–3

Mixed doubles (1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1945 U.S. Championships Grass United States Doris Hart United States Margaret Osborne duPont
United States Bill Talbert
4–6, 4–6

Performance timeline[edit]


(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.
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



  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. April 4, 2011.
  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, Maryland: 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. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014.
  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". Archived from the original on February 16, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  10. ^ "OJAI RECORD OF EVENTS INDEX" (PDF). Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  11. ^ "Men's Tennis". USC Trojan Athletics. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013.
  12. ^ "Davis Cup – Player profile". ITF.
  13. ^ a b c Brown, Tom (2007). As Tom Goes By : A Tennis Memoir. McKinleyville, California: Fithian Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-1564744654.
  14. ^ "Falkenburg Wins Wimbledon Title Defeating Bromwich in Five Sets". The Montreal Gazette. July 3, 1948. p. 9.
  15. ^ "Wimbledon Title to Falkenburg". The Examiner. Launceston, Tasmania. July 3, 1948. p. 1 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ "The Wimbledon Finals". British Pathé.
  17. ^ "Before Novak Djokovic, The Last Man To Save Match Points In A Wimbledon Final Was Bob Falkenburg". July 15, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Bob Falkenburg". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  19. ^ The National Enquirer Newspaper – March 1, 1966 issue- Pg. 26
  20. ^ "American Sells Burgers, Shakes To Brazilians". Observer-Reporter. September 29, 1971.
  21. ^ "Ex-Netter Says More Pressure In Tourney Golf". Times Daily. October 27, 1966.
  22. ^ "US Qualifiers Are Paced By Falkenburg". Lodi News-Sentinel. July 1, 1966.
  23. ^ Fendrich, Howard (January 10, 2022). "Bob Falkenburg, tennis star who gave Brazil fast food, dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  24. ^ "Robert Falkenburg – Player Activity". ATP Tour. Retrieved January 10, 2022.

General sources[edit]

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

External links[edit]