Joey Bishop

Joey Bishop

Comedian and actor. Bishop was born Joesph Abraham Gottlieb on February 3, 1918, in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents. He grew up inSouth Philadelphia. After high school, he enjoyed a modest career as a stand-up comic prior to serving in the Army in World War II.

In 1941, Bishop married Sylvia Ruzga. They were married until her death in 1999. The couple had one son, Larry.

Bishop debuted on television as early as 1948 and was a frequent guest on talk, game and comedy shows. Bishop gained wide exposure by appearing regularly on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show (1958-62). He guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson more times than anyone else. He starred in The Joey Bishop Show (1961-65), a television sitcom, and hosted his own late-night talk show, also called The Joey Bishop Show (1967-69), complete with a sidekick, TV newcomer Regis Philbin.

In the 1950s, he started a friendship with Frank Sinatra, which resulted in Bishop’s inclusion in the Rat Pack. A group of entertainers consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Peter Lawford. Although Bishop’s celebrity profile was far lower than that of Sinatra, Davis or Martin, Sinatra called Bishop the Hub of the Big Wheel, citing him as the originator of most of the group’s comic material and the one who anchored their stage presence. He and Dean Martin were also said to be the only members who could tell jokes at Sinatra’s expense. Bishop performed with the Rat Pack in Las Vegas and co-starred with them in the films Oceans Eleven (1960) and Sergeants Three (1962).

His other film appearances include The Naked and the Dead (1958) Pepe (1960), Johnny Cool (1963), A Guide for the Married Man (1967) The Valley of the Dolls (1967), Betsy’s Wedding (1990), and Mad Dog Time (1996), which was directed by Bishop’s son Larry.

With Sinatra’s death in 1998, he became the last living member of the Rat Pack. He was also the longest living member. Peter Lawford died in 1984, Sammy Davis Jr. in 1990, Dean Martin in 1995. Bishop died on October 17, 2007 at his home in Newport Beach, California.

 

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