John Byner is a man of many voices and characters, from impersonating the slow, rolling gait and speech of John Wayne, to lending his voice to The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons. His dead-on impersonations, as well as his unique talents as a character actor, have put him on the small screen in peoples’ homes, the big screen in theaters, and no screen on Broadway.
Growing up in a big family on Long Island, John discovered his uncanny ability to mimic voices as a child when he returned home from a Bing Crosby movie and repeated Bing’s performance for his family in their living room. He discovered his talent made him the focus of everyone’s attention, and allowed him to make friends wherever he went, from elementary school to the U.S. Navy.
John started his career in nightclubs in New York, but soon found himself getting national acclaim on The Ed Sullivan Show. With that he was on his way. This memoir is the best and funniest moments of his life, career, and relationships with some of the biggest names in entertainment, both on and off the screen.
ISBN 978-1-60808-234-6 (Paperback)
6×9, 250 pages
Publication date: August 1, 2020
This book is available in paperback and eBook format:
Fun interview with John Byner by Eddie Berke, bartender at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club for 40 years:
When his mother asked him to tell his father what they had seen that afternoon at the movies, John, then age six, did his impression of Bing Crosby singing “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” which immediately raised their eyebrows in astonishment. Being a shy kid, he found that impressions broke the ice through the many moves his family made, and also later when he served in the Navy.
From then on, John listened to voices — especially those that he liked. He mimicked them with ease. His gift took him from winning talent competitions to performing in every sort of venue imaginable…from stage to screen, recordings, cartoons and having a half dozen television series of his own.
Concurrently he attended King’s College and Seminary, earning a theology degree. He spent six years working as a pastor with the homeless population of Los Angeles, and after retiring from USC, he volunteered for two years as a Bible teacher in a Southern Utah prison. He is currently a hospital chaplain.
An ardent amateur historian, he is the author of Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes and Surviving Hiroshima: A Young Woman’s Story. He has also returned to his comedy roots to work on the autobiography of his friend, John Byner, with Five Minutes, Mr. Byner!
He has given up motorcycles, but remains addicted to sports cars.