Bob Saget, the comedian and actor famous for playing a wholesome sitcom father figure but who never lost his flair for raunchy comedy, has died at 65.
Saget died shortly after performing in Orlando, where he had delivered a show with his trademark mashup of dark humor and dad jokes that he first developed while misbehaving in Hebrew school.
Saget was found dead in his hotel room in Orlando. The cause of his death is unknown but police do not suspect drugs or foul play.
As a performer, Saget alternated between the raunchy standup comic known for darkly funny bits peppered with curse words and the wholesome dad that he played on the 1990s sitcom “Full House,” bringing together his audiences of children and adults in his role as host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Even before he got to Hollywood, Saget honed his comedy as a misbehaving Hebrew school student at Temple Israel in Norfolk, Va.
“Well, a lot of it was rebellion,” Saget told the Atlanta Jewish Times in 2014. “In my Hebrew school training, I would spend more time trying to impress the girls in the class. I remember the rabbi taking me up to his office and saying ‘Saget, you’re not an entertainer; you have to stop doing this.’ I couldn’t stop.”
He never did.
After a short stint contributing to CBS’ “The Morning Program,” Saget was cast to play a morning show host on TV. As Danny Tanner on “Full House,” Saget played a widowed dad and morning show host raising three daughters in San Francisco with the help of his brother-in-law and his best friend. Saget played the role until the show ended in 1995 and reprised it in the “Fuller House” reboot that premiered in 2016. In 1989, Saget started hosting “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which he continued until 1997.
Saget was born in Philadelphia in 1956 to Jewish parents but spent much of his childhood in Norfolk. His father, a supermarket executive, and his mother, a hospital administrator, probably would have preferred to see their son follow through on his original plans to become a doctor. But Saget’s plans changed in high school when his English teacher, Elaine Zimmerman, encouraged him to become a filmmaker. “To the next Groucho-Fellini,” she wrote in his yearbook.
After studying film at Temple University, Saget moved to Los Angeles and became a regular at the Comedy Store, the legendary comedy club famous for launching the careers of comedians like David Letterman and Jay Leno. His comedic role models included Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles, who, as Saget recalled in 2017, once said of him: “He comes out like a Jewish Clark Kent.”
—JTA News and Features