John Byner (born June 28, 1938) is an American actor, comedian, and impressionist who has had a lengthy television and movie career. His voice work includes the cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark, in which the title characters are voiced by Byner's impressions of Dean Martin and Jackie Mason, respectively.
Byner was born John Biener in New York City, the son of Christina, a mental hospital attendant, and Michael Biener, a truck mechanic. He is currently married to his fourth wife, Anne Gaybis, and has at least 4 children from his first marriage. He was married with Eleanor Belcher and Ksenia Prohaska (1985 greatest actress and singer from Croatia).
On The Ed Sullivan Show, where he made his first early TV appearances, he mimicked Ed Sullivan as well as anyone, including the "master" Sullivan impersonator, Will Jordan (in fact, on his album FM & AM, comedian George Carlin used Byner's Sullivan impersonation for his own Sullivan impersonation). His other impressions included John Wayne and he sings as Dean Martin and Johnny Mathis. His ability to mimic "Toastmaster General" George Jessel came in handy during his appearances on panel programs such as celebrity "roasts" and other tributes.
On a 1967 episode of Get Smart, Byner played a KAOS agent who made a phone call to the Chief of CONTROL (played by Edward Platt), performed a perfect impression of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and told the Chief he was fired and replaced with agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). Smart, the Chief and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) foiled this plot to undermine CONTROL, and Byner's character was arrested.
In 1970, he hosted about 25 episodes of a syndicated half-hour musical variety series called Something Else. He then hosted his own show in 1972 called the "John Byner Comedy Hour", where the character Super Dave was first introduced. Also that year, he had a cameo appearance in Barbra Streisand's blockbuster comedy film What's Up Doc?. In the late 1970s, he had a featured role as Detective Donahue on the tv series Soap. In the 1980s he hosted the Canadian TV comedy series, Bizarre. That show re-introduced many people to hapless daredevil Super Dave Osborne, played by Bob Einstein. He was also a regular celebrity guest on Hollywood Squares during the Peter Marshall years and later hosted the 1988-89 syndicated game show Relatively Speaking Over the years he has done straight acting work and also light characters in otherwise serious dramas, such as the mostly-harmless con artist "Cotton Dunn" in the 1990s cop series Silk Stalkings and appeared in the PBS 1994 Halloween special "Lamb Chop in the Haunted Studio".
One voice of his own invention is a high-pitched, raspy voice that defies easy description. It is vaguely similar to Donald Duck, only more intelligible. He has sometimes given that voice a character to go with it, "Felix Fossididdi". It was actually a voice that he and his brother came up with, which they would sometimes use when ordering in restaurants in order to try to spook the waitress. He used the voice for the character Gurgi in the Disney animated feature film The Black Cauldron.
In 2008, he starred in RoboDoc.
- "The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show" (1976) TV Series (voice) .... The Ant/The Aardvark
- "The Pink Panther (1993-95) TV Series (voice) .... The Ant/The Aardvark
Byner's well-known impersonations
- Sylvester Stallone, Dean Martin, Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Johnny Mathis, Jerry Lewis, Boy George, Ed Sullivan, Hervé Villechaize, Joan Rivers, Paul Lynde, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, Henny Youngman, Ruth Westheimer, Mahatma Gandhi, Jackie Mason, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, James Cagney, Donald Duck, Gene Shalit, Mister Rogers, Phil Donahue, Merv Griffin, Cheech Marin, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Nathan Lane, Don Bluth, Glen Keane.
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