His father, Elmer Balaban (1909-2001), was the founder of the famous Chicago theater companies Balaban and Katz. Elmers brothers worked in different positions in the film and theater business. Bob Balaban graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton. He debuted in 1967 and starred in several theater roles for The Inspector General in 1979 he was nominated for a Tony Award.
Balaban played in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977 ) opposite Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, in the film The trip to hell (1980 ) opposite William Hurt in the film The Mexican - A hot Love ( 2001) opposite Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. In 2012 he participated as narrator in the film Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. He was also seen in several guest roles in the television series Miami Vice, Seinfeld, Legend and Friends. As a producer, he was also working on the movie Gosford Park, for which he also wrote the script, works. As a director, he worked on several episodes of television series such as Legend and The Twilight Zone and the film Ugh - Daddy is a cannibal ( Parents, 1989) with Randy Quaid.
Balaban is married to Lynn Grossman since 1977 and has two daughters: Mariah ( b. 1977 ) and Hazel (* 1987). He lives in New York City borough of Manhattan.