Tino Insana, the improv actor, writer and the voice of Uncle Ted in the Fox series Bobby’s World, died June 1 of cancer. He was 69.
His role in Bobby’s World launched a 25-year career as voice actor, with Insana lending his pipes to such animated kids programs as Spaceballs, Darkwing Duck, Bubble Guppies, Pepper Ann, Teacher’s Pet, Buzz Lightyear and Goof Troop.
As an actor, he appeared on TV shows including Night Court, Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm and wrote for the spoof TV series Police Squad! and Sledgehammer. On the film side, his credits include Neighbors, Three Amigos and Beverly Hills Cop III.
Born in 1948 in Chicago, Insana’s career began as future SNL original John Belushi’s partner in a comedy troupe that performed in a local Chicago coffee house in 1968, where he was discovered by the producers of the Second City.
Insana spent seven years with the company before venturing off to form his own comedy troupe, The Graduates, with fellow cast members Jim Staahl and Jim Fisher. The group became a staple of the 1980s comedy landscape, touring the country performing at clubs and colleges and appearing on variety and talk shows including The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show.
In the ’90s, Insana returned to his improvisation roots when he began a long association with Viola Spolin, founder of the Improvisational Movement, and her son, Paul Sills, performing with their company, the Spolin Players. There he became known among his peers “as one improviser who never failed in an improvisation.”
Insana is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dana; and siblings Craig, Chris and Cynthia.