Bob Elliott, the soft-spoken half of the hilarious radio and television comedy team Bob and Ray, died Tuesday. He was 92.
Elliott died at his home in Cundy’s Harbor, Me., his son, Chris Elliott — the comic actor and former Late Night With David Letterman staff writer and Saturday Night Live player — told The New York Times.
Survivors also include his grandchildren (and Chris’ daughters) Abby Elliott, also a former SNL member, and actress Bridey Elliott (Fort Tilden).
After a stint on a local Boston radio station and then on NBC radio, the low-key Elliott and his more-boisterous comedy partner Ray Goulding hosted The Bob and Ray Show on TV from 1951-53.
Elliott and Goulding created a company of funny characters, with Elliott drawing laughs as sportscaster Biff Burns — “This is Biff Burns saying this is Biff Burns saying good night” — and goofy man-on-the-street reporter Wally Ballou. They took turns serving as the straight man and often mocked their medium.
Bob and Ray later recorded comedy albums and appeared often on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. On Broadway starting in 1970, they starred in The Two and Only, where they did comedy sketches, and were seen in Cold Turkey (1971), directed by Norman Lear, and, playing brothers, in Arthur Hiller’s Author! Author! (1982).
After Goulding died in 1990, Elliott appeared as a castmember on Garrison Keillor’s American Radio Company of the Air and showed up in the Bill Murray comedy Quick Change (1990). He also played Chris’ father on the 1990-92 Fox series Get a Life and in Cabin Boy (1994).
A native of Boston, Elliott was a disc jockey and Goulding a news reader when they met in 1946 at the Boston station WHDH. They ad-libbed between records, and the station gave them an afternoon show and then a morning show, “Breakfast With Bob and Ray.” That led to a one-hour Saturday night show on NBC Radio in 1951.