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In 1932 Bob was on Broadway again in "Ballyhoo." But Bob's first major recognition, by critics and the public, came in 1933 for his wise-cracking role as Huckleberry Haines in the highly successful Broadway musical, "Roberta."

Bob's personal life changed during "Roberta." One of his co-performers in the musical, George Murphy, introduced him to a young singer, Dolores Reade, then appearing at the Vogue Club on 57th Street. After a brief courtship, the couple married in February 1934 and a family with four children: Linda, Anthony, Nora, and Kelly; and 4 grandchildren.

 
 
 

 

Following "Roberta," Bob opened in the Broadway musical "Say When" (1934) followed by the 1936 edition of "Ziegfeld Follies" in which he shared the spotlight with Fanny Brice. Bob's success in "Follies" led him to a role in "Red, Hot, and Blue" (1936) with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante.

Although Bob had made seven one-reel comedies for Educational Films with Warner Bros. in New York, it was his performance in "Red, Hot and Blue" that opened the door to his first major feature film for Paramount Pictures, "The Big Broadcast of 1938."

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