John Byner

John Byner

Byner in 1976.
Born John Biener
(1938-06-28) June 28, 1938
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, impressionist
Spouse(s) Eleanor Belcher
(m. 1960–1969; divorced)
Sally Fisher
(m. 1982–1983; divorced)
Ksenia Prohaska
(m. 1985–?; divorced)
Anne Gaybis
(m. 1992–present)
Children four (with Eleanor Belcher)[1]

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

Byner was born John Biener in New York City, the son of Christina, a mental hospital attendant, and Michael Biener, a truck mechanic.[2]


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.[3]

On a 1967 episode of Get Smart, he 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 22 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 What's Up, Doc?. In the mid-1970s, he guest starred in two episodes of The Odd Couple one titled, "The New Car", which originally aired on October 19, 1973.[4] In it, he plays an abrasive parking garage owner who has a hilarious encounter with Felix and Oscar. He had a recurring role in the situation comedy The Practice during its first season in the spring of 1976. 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. In the 1970s Byner appeared several times on The Carol Burnett Show. He also appeared several times on David Letterman.[5]

In the 1980s, he hosted Bizarre, which 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' 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 a regular celebrity guest on Hollywood Squares during the John Davidson years and later hosted the 1988-89 syndicated game show Relatively Speaking.[6] He appeared in an episode of Friday the 13th: The Series as a washed-up ventriloquist.


Cartoon series


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