A comedian who had a career on radio and television spanning more than 40 years — who was half of the comedy duo Bob and Ray — has died. The New York Times reports that Bob Elliott died Tuesday at his home in Cundy’s Harbor, Me. He was 92.
“Mr. Elliott and his partner, Ray Goulding — Bob was the more soft-spoken one, Ray the one with the deep voice and the blustery attitude — were unusual among two-person comedy teams in that rather than one of them always playing it straight and the other one handling the jokes, they took turns being the straight man,” The Times reports.
The report adds: “Together they specialized in debunking gasbags, political airheads, no-talent entrepreneurs and Madison Avenue hypemasters. Their weapon was not caustic satire but wry understatement; as the cultural historian Gerald Nachman wrote, they ‘never felt a need to destroy their targets, preferring to tickle them to death with a well-aimed feather.’”
The pair had their own NBC TV series, “The Bob & Ray Show,” in the early 1950s, which included Audrey Meadows as a cast regular. The show evolved into “Club Embassy” in its second season, with Cloris Leachman replacing Meadows. Along the way it transitioned from 15 minutes to a half-hour before going off the air in September 1953.
Bob and Ray later became frequent guests on TV programs such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”
After Goulding died in 1990, Elliott continued to work, including becoming a cast member of Garrison Keillor’s “American Radio Company of the Air.” He is the father of comedic actor Chris Elliott, who broke out with appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Here’s a vintage clip from “The Bob & Ray Show”: