In 1937 a chubby six year old named Bob “Big Boy” Bobinski strolled into a tiny diner in Glendale, California sporting a pair of red and white checked “Can’t Bust’Em” overalls. Talk about KISMET! The owner Bob Wian had at that very moment invented something that many believe rivals in historical importance the taco, the pizza slice, cheese fries, perhaps even nuclear energy: the first double-decker hamburger. Schematics, modeling clay and discarded sheets of calculations littered the floor and the quick-witted youngster offered to sweep up in exchange for “one of them two patty jobs.’ This rest is history. Well, almost. There’s still some dispute who came up with the name “Bob’s,”—Bob Wian, Bob Bobinski, Bob’s uncle Bob, Bob the fry cook or the diner’s pet poodle also coincidentally named Bob — and it took some months to come up with the Big Boy name after “Bob’s Bust A Gut” and “Bob’s ‘Pant Load’ Burger” flopped.
In a few short years, demand grew so high that a new Bob’s was opening at a rate of one a week and Bob Bobinski appeared at each one to cut the ribbon and make a short speech. He soon added dance steps, a ukulele and kazoo number to his repertoire and by the time he was 12 years old his fame had grown so rapidly he came in third in a Time Magazine poll of Most Recognized Americans behind FDR and Mussolini. It was then he says he knew “showbiz is my life.”
The problem he ran into, however, is the all too familiar story of child stars after the age of puberty – typecasting. “Listen, kid, love the burgers but I put you in a flick and the audience will laugh their asses off.” Fast forward twenty years and Bobinski was working as a greeter at a Las Vegas casino with Joe Louis the ex-heavyweight champ and a young Harry Reid who was still deciding whether to pursue a career in politics or organized crime or both. “ One day I got so fucked up with those guys I think I actually entered another dimension. It was like I was sober. I decided to join a gym, get off the booze, eat salads. I lost a lot of weight and looked great, but then management says to me that when I was fat maybe one out of thousand knew who I was, skinny exactly no one. So they canned me.” So what has he done for the last forty years? “ I read scripts, make the rounds. show up for casting calls. I’m almost 90 now so I might spend a little time with the family. Not sure if my mom is still around, though .”