Remembering the 2 Legends We Lost in 2019

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Bob Einstein

Bob Einstein, the veteran comedy writer and performer known for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” ”Curb Your Enthusiasm” and his spoof daredevil character Super Dave Osborne, has died, according to his brother, filmmaker Albert Brooks. Einstein was 76.

Einstein will be “missed forever,” Brooks said in a post Wednesday on his verified Twitter account. “R.I.P. My dear brother Bob Einstein. A great brother, father and husband. A brilliantly funny man,” tweeted Brooks, 71. Details of Einstein’s death were not immediately available. Representatives for him and Brooks did not immediately respond to calls or emails.

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Einstein was scheduled to be part of the 10th season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but his health barred him from filming, HBO said. On the comedy, Einstein played annoying pal Marty Funkhouser to Larry David’s equally difficult character. In a statement, David said he’d never seen an actor enjoy a role more than Einstein did playing Marty. “It was an amazing, unforgettable experience knowing and working with him. There was no one like him, as he told us again and again,” David said Wednesday. “We’re all in a state of shock.”

Remembering the 2 Legends We Lost in 2019
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Einstein created and played Super Dave, a stuntman who was far more ambitious than he was agile and looked the part in an eye-catching white jumpsuit. Super Dave appeared on comedy-variety specials and series, most recently “Super Dave’s Spike Tacular” in 2009. “This character allows me to do anything I want, comedically, and get away with it,” the comedian told The Associated Press in 1995, when he was starring in the series “Super Dave’s Las Vegas Spectacular” series.

Einstein recounted Super Dave’s origins on a 1970s variety show. “I came up with the idea of a daredevil who’s going to go upside down, in a metal car, at 90 mph, and it’s never been done before,” Einstein said then. “I get into this metal car, I’m strapped in. You pull back, and it’s a roller coaster at Magic Mountain, with kids and nuns and everything else!

“I pass out while everybody else is having a wonderful time,” he said. Over time, Super Dave even made it into commercials for clothes and athletic shoes. Einstein said he never tired of his alter ego. Einstein was born in 1942 in Los Angeles to actress Thelma Leeds and comedian and actor Harry Einstein, also known as Harry Parke. He gained radio fame as the character Nick Parkyakarkus and later played him on the big screen. Besides Albert Brooks (his stage name), Bob Einstein’s siblings include Clifford Einstein.

Bob Einstein won an Emmy for writing on the 1960s series “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” on which he also played opposite Tom and Dick Smothers, and a second Emmy in 1976 for Dick Van Dyke’s “Van Dyke and Company” variety series. Comedian David Steinberg recalled on Twitter that he and Einstein started out together on the Smothers’ show. “What a mind! What a great friend. Brilliantly funny always,” Steinberg posted.

Daryl Dragon

Daryl Dragon, the cap-wearing “Captain” of Captain & Tennille who teamed with then-wife Toni Tennille on such easy listening hits as “Love Will Keep Us Together” and “Muskrat Love,” died Wednesday. He was 76. Dragon died of renal failure at a hospice in Prescott, Arizona, according to spokesman Harlan Boll. Tennille was by his side.

“He was a brilliant musician with many friends who loved him greatly. I was at my most creative in my life, when I was with him,” Tennille said in a statement. Dragon and Tennille divorced in 2014 after nearly 40 years of marriage, but they remained close and Tennille had moved back to Arizona to help care for him. Dragon and Tennille met in the early 1970s and soon began performing together, with the ever-smiling Tennille singing and the dourer Dragon on keyboards. He would later serve as Captain & Tennille’s producer.

Remembering the 2 Legends We Lost in 2019
AP Photo/David B. Parker

Their breakthrough came in 1975 when they covered the bouncy Neil Sedaka-Howard Greenfield song “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Sedaka and Greenfield, a top hit-making team in the late 1950s and early 1960s, were nearing the end of their partnership and had written “Love Will Keep Us Together” as an ode to their longtime bond. Sedaka himself recorded the song, released it as a single in France, and included it on his 1974 album “Sedaka’s Back.”

Captain & Tennille’s version, slightly faster and funkier than the original, wasn’t Dragon’s first choice as a single. He had favored a cover of Beach Boy Bruce Johnston’s “I Write the Songs,” which in 1976 became a signature hit for Barry Manilow.

But “Love Will Keep Us Together” topped the charts in the summer of 1975. It won a Grammy for record of the year and not only made Captain & Tennille stars, but helped further revive Sedaka’s career. In October 1975, his single “Bad Blood” hit No. 1. Sedaka tweeted Wednesday that Dragon was “a great musician, keyboard player and friend for over 40 years. He took ‘Love Will Keep Us Together,’ made it his own with the magic of his playing and her incredible voice.”

Meanwhile, Captain & Tennille — known early on as The Captain & Tennille — followed with a mix of covers such as “Muskrat Love” and “Shop Around” and original songs, including Tennille’s ballad “Do That to Me One More Time,” which hit No. 1 in 1980. They also briefly starred in their own television variety show before their careers faded in the 1980s.

Over the past 30 years, they continued to perform and work together on occasion, with more recent albums including “The Secret of Christmas.” A Los Angeles native, Dragon was the son of Oscar-winning composer Carmen Dragon and singer Eloise Dragon and was himself a classically trained musician. Before he was with Tennille, he played keyboards for the Beach Boys and was dubbed “The Captain” by singer Mike Love, who noted Dragon’s fondness for sea captain’s caps. Tennille briefly worked with the Beach Boys as a backup singer.

“So sad to hear about Daryl Dragon,” the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson tweeted Wednesday. “Daryl was a great guy and a hell of a musician and keyboard player. I feel very bad about this.” In 2016, Tennille published “Toni Tennille: A Memoir,” in which she alleged their marriage was far removed from their cheerful hits. They wed in 1975, but Tennille recalled that their marriage was announced in advance — and to their surprise — by the record company. The couple, which had been living together, made it official in November of that year.

Tennille would allege that the couple suffered from lack of intimacy and blamed it on what she described as Dragon’s “very, very difficult family and “famous but overbearing father.” “I kept trying and trying and thinking I could bring this man who has so much to give into the light,” she told NBC’s “Today” show in 2016. “I wanted him to experience the joy that I had with my very loving family.”

Dragon is survived by his older brother, Doug Dragon, and two nieces, Kelly Arbout and Renee Henn.

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