Biography

Nightclub comedian Joey Bishop managed to get a lot of mileage out of a dour facial expression, an air of perpetual doom-and-gloom, and the mumbled catchphrase "Son of a gun!" Bishop climbed on the Philadelphia nightclub carousel as one of the Bishop Brothers, a singing group comprised of three friends who were neither Bishops nor brothers. As a solo comic in the early 1950s, Bishop caught the eye of Frank Sinatra, whose influence enabled Joey to secure bigger and better club engagements. Bishop was signed to a Warner Bros. movie contract in 1956; his best showing during this period was as the ill-fated Jewish army private in The Naked and the Dead (1957). He continued accepting occasional film roles into the 1990s in such productions as Texas Across the River (1966) and Betsy's Wedding (1990). In 1961, Bishop starred as put-upon press agent Joey Barnes on an episode of The Danny Thomas Show titled "Everything Happens to Me"; this served as the pilot for The Joey Bishop Show, which lasted from 1961 through 1965, weathering numerous cast, concept and network changes. Having proven himself a suitable substitute host for such late-night gurus as Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, Bishop emceed ABC's nightly The Joey Bishop Show, with Regis Philbin as Joey's "Ed McMahon" and an endless stream of borscht-belt comics and "Rat Pack" intimates as guest stars. After The Joey Bishop Show closed out its two-year run in 1969, Bishop returned to the guest-star treadmill; in later years, he popped up on everything from infomercials to home-shopping programs. Bishop died in October 2007 at the age of 89. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi