Lives in the Yiddish Theatre
Volume 8



Bob Ader


Bob was born in Brooklyn, New York, home of  Barbara Streisand, Lainie Kazan, and the Dodgers, who were still there at the time of his birth. However, he was not born into a show business family. His father was a purchasing agent for a giftware company and also a part-time lawyer, and his mother was a hard- working housewife until her late sixties, when she too entered the wonderful world of show business. Bob was a natural ham, though and at the age of four, he used to stop total strangers in the street and ask if they wanted to see his Elvis Presley impression. Invariably they would say yes, and he would begin shaking his legs and shouting out a chorus of "Hound Dog."

On some of these occasions, his older brother Jack would get into the act and emulate some of the tap dancing he would see on variety shows in those days of early television. It turned out that he was a natural tap dancer and in some strange, convoluted way, that is what got Bob into show business.

Some people they knew referred them to other people who knew of a professional tap dance teacher in Manhattan by the name of Oliver McCool, who would be able to teach Jack solid professional tap technique. Jack had to audition for him before he would accept him, but once he saw him tap dance, he was bowled over, though he didn’t want to admit it. He soon became his star pupil. Some of his other pupils were Bernadette Peters (when she was a young child), Leslie Uggams, and Steve Lawrence.

Since the classes were at night, his mother took Bob along with Jack and her, probably because she knew that he
was already in love with show business, and this was a taste of the "real thing." The class used live music and unbelievably, Bob knew many of the songs that were being played, and still being little more than a tot, he spontaneously began singing. Oliver McCool, the tap teacher was so amused, that he made him stand up in the middle of the class and sing for everybody. He obviously must have had something because several of the professionals there recommended singing and acting coaches to his mother and told her that he definitely had a future in the business. He immediately began studying, and his teachers were also impressed and recommended him to several agents, and that’s how it all began.

Bob officially began his professional career at the age of six when he appeared in an episode of The Naked City, a New York-based weekly television series. The following year, he made his professional stage debut at the age of seven in John Patrick’s Juniper and the Pagans, which was produced by David Merrick and starred David Wayne. His Broadway debut took place the following year in the Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critic Circle Award winning play, All the Way Home, with Colleen Dewhurst, Lillian Gish, and Arthur Hill. After that, he appeared opposite Mike Nichols in A Matter of Position, which was written by Elaine May.

During the mid-1960s, Bob made numerous television appearances on such programs as Car 54, The Defenders, Hullabaloo, and The Steve Lawrence Show. His stage appearances during this period included Oliver, starring Jules Munshin, and The King and I, starring Darren McGavin and Rise Stevens, which was produced by the legendary composer Richard Rodgers and was the first musical production at the New York State Theatre of the then recently completed Lincoln Center complex.  Following that, he appeared with Judy Garland and her children, Lorna and Joey, in a special performance at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden.

After graduating from high school, he went into a four-year period of semi-retirement, but only semi. He did make several appearances doing club dates with a childhood friend by the name of Steve Chall. They did a better than average singing and variety act but never got to play the big rooms. During the daytime, he was an undergraduate at Hunter College where he received his B. A. in Psychology. Though he never became a therapist, the study of psychology really helped him improve his acting by allowing him to better understand the feelings and emotions that motivated all different sorts of characters.

After graduating from Hunter College, he resumed his full-time career appearing opposite James Rado in Rainbow (the sequel to Hair). He also appeared as Chico Marx in Minnie's Boys, Clark in When You Comin' Back Red Ryder ( with the Barrow Group), Gino in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Waldgrave in The Nerd, the Hunter in Peter and the Wolf, Bobo in Coulda Woulda Shoulda, and he appeared as six separate characters in the Off Broadway musical, Jayson.

Regionally, he has appeared in the dual roles of Ted Snyder, the partner of Irving Berlin in the music publishing business, and Alfred Ernst, the conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, in the Cleveland Playhouse production of The Tin Pan Alley Rag, which was directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award Nominee, Lynn Taylor-Corbett. He has also appeared as  Sosia in Olympus on my Mind at the Florida Studio Theatre, the dual roles of the Captain & Hennessy in Dames at Sea, and as Val in Laughter on the 23rd Floor. He also worked with Gabe Kaplan and Misty Rowe in a production of Groucho: A Life in Review, where he once again played the role of Chico Marx. One of his most gratifying roles was as Horace Goldin, a Jewish magician from the 1920s and 30s in the musical The Amazing Goldin.

In 2011 he created and performed his one man show, 50 Years in the Business, which is a musical and variety memoir based on his lifelong career in show business.

His relationship with the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre started in 2009 when he played several roles in the play, Shlemiel The First, a production which they co-produced with Montclair State University, where the show was presented. Bob reprised his roles in the 2011 production of Shlemiel when it was presented at The Skirball Theatre in New York City. In 2012 he appeared in the Folksbiene production of The Golden Land, which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

On television, you may have seen him in a leading role on NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries, where he played a Hasidic rabbi wanted for international bank fraud. Also, he has been featured on such shows as Saturday Night Live, The Late Show With David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, One Life to Live, The Guiding Light, Mike Hammer, and many others. He has also been  featured twice on NBC’s hit series Law & Order. In addition Bob played the part of a sleazy attorney in an episode of  Law & Order: Criminal Intent. On film he can be seen tap dancing in When Harry Met Sally, playing a Balloon Captain in Just for the Time Being, and his voice has been heard looping for other characters in such films as Get Shorty, For Love or Money, Life With Mikey, and Black and White in Color.

Besides that he has worked numerous times doing singing and speaking recordings, some of which incorporated his
talents in the area of character voices dialects and impressions. Many of these recordings were done for and with the late Joe Raposo, who was a very gifted and prolific composer and was one of the original creators of Sesame Street.

Bob is also a playwright. His first produced effort was in the Autumn of 1983 and was entitled Stop Time. It was presented Off-Broadway at PSW Studios. Besides writing the play, he acted in it in a co-starring role along with his lovely and talented wife, Marilyn Spanier, who besides being an actress is an author, inventor, and certified hypnotist. They have been married for over thirty years. His second play, Shivah (now entitled The Perfect Egg Cream) was presented in the Fall of 1998 at the Mazer Theatre at the Educational Alliance and also featured his wife, Marilyn Spanier. In addition, Bob has had successful staged readings performed of several plays, and he has written audio scripts for children’s recordings. Bob also has written a horror novel, Reflection of Evil, which is currently available at Barnes & Noble in print and online. Bob is also a proud member of the Project Rushmore Theatre Company

Sh. E. from Bob Ader.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links


Copyright ©  Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.