Miami Vice Wiki
Bob Balaban


Miami Vice Character
August 16, 1945, Chicago, Illinois
Lynn Grossman (1977-present), two children

Robert Elmer "Bob" Balaban (Born August 16, 1945) is an American actor/author/director in stage, movies and television. He appeared in the show Miami Vice as Ira Stone, military reporter turned investigative reporter in the episodes "Back in the World" and "Stone's War".

Early life

Balaban was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eleanor (née Pottasch) and Elmer Balaban, who owned several movie theatres and later was a pioneer in cable television. His family was a dominant force in the theatre business; his uncles founded the Balaban and Katz Theatre circuit in Chicago, a chain which included the Chicago and Uptown theatres (a 2006 documentary, Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, features one of these theatres). Balaban and Katz operated some of the most beautiful movie palaces in the United States beginning the 1920s. Bob Balaban's father and his uncle Harry founded the H & E Balaban Corporation in Chicago. H & E Balaban Corporation operated their own movie palaces including the Esquire Theatre in Chicago. They later owned a powerful group of television stations and cable television franchises. His uncle Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures for nearly 30 years from 1936 to 1964, where he coined "Balaban's Law," which held that a film had to gross three times its negative cost to break even. . His grandmother's second husband, Sam Katz, was a vice president at MGM beginning in 1936. Sam had early partnered with Bob's uncles Abe, Barney, John and Max to form Balaban and Katz. Sam also served as President of the Publix theatre division of Paramount Pictures. Balaban is an alumnus of Colgate University and New York University and lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. He is Jewish, with his paternal grandparents having immigrated from Russia to Chicago.


Balaban's first movie role was as a young student in 1969's Midnight Cowboy (with Sylvia Miles), he turned to television shortly after, making guest appearances in Room 222, Love, American Style, Maude, and The Mod Squad. In 1977 he appeared in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind as an interpreter, while on the set he wrote (and later published) a diary of his experiences there. He stayed in the sci-fi genre with appearances in Altered States and 2010. He also directed the pilot of the thriller series Tales From The Darkside (and wrote another episode) and an episode of Spielberg's Amazing Stories.

Miami Vice

In 1985, Balaban was cast as Army reporter Ira Stone, Vietnam-era friend of Crockett in "Back in the World", trying to report a story on deadly Laotian heroin distributed by their mutual "friend" Capt. Real Estate aka Maynard (played by G. Gordon Liddy). Balaban & Liddy returned in the sequel "Stone's War", this time Stone captured footage of American private soldiers in Nicaragua fighting for the Contras, funded by Maynard. When Stone was found by Maynard, he was captured, shot and eventually killed in a crossfire, while Maynard escaped to Nicaragua to fight in the war there.

After Vice

Balaban continued to act, write & direct, returning to the sci-fi/thiller genre by directing three episodes of Eerie, Indiana in 1991, and two episodes of the 2002 version of Twilight Zone. He returned to the big screen, directing the movie My Boyfriend's Back (with Jay O. Sanders). Back to television, Balaban appeared in five episodes of the comedy Seinfeld (with Michael Richards) as Russell Dalrymple (the fictional president of NBC), and in Friends as Frank Buffay, father of Phoebe, Ursula & Frank Buffay (Jr.). He produced and appeared in the 2001 movie Gosford Park, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. He has also written a series of children's books featuring a bionic dog named "McGrowl".

Personal Life

Balaban has been married to Lynn Grossman since 1977 and has two children.