General Robert (Bob)
Falkenburg
Male
United States of America
1926-01-29
New York, United States of America
2022-01-06
Santa Ynez, California, United States of America


About

Robert Falkenburg was a former American amateur tennis player and entrepreneur. He is best known for winning the men’s singles title at the 1948 Wimbledon Championships and for introducing soft ice cream and American fast food to Brazil in 1952. He was the founder of the Brazilian fast food chain known as “Bob’s”.

Bob Falkenburg was born in New York City and grew up in Los Angeles, California, in a tennis-playing family. His parents, Eugene “Genie” Lincoln Falkenburg (an engineer involved in the construction of the Hoover Dam), and Marguerite “Mickey” Crooks Falkenburg were also amateur tennis players.

While employed by Westinghouse, Eugene was transferred to São Paulo, Brazil, where he moved with his wife and three children to. There, Mickey won the state tennis championship in 1927. Mickey was always involved in tennis.

In the book “The Game: My 40 Years in Tennis,” renowned tennis champion Jack Kramer wrote that Mickey Falkenburg was “the first person to ever suggest to him the idea of a team-tennis league,” something he later created.

Bob’s sister, Eugenia “Jinx” Falkenburg, a famous American film star/model, was also an amateur tennis player and his brother Tom had a successful tennis career as well.

Bob started to play tennis in 1936 when he was 10 years old. Like other tennis players from Southern California, he frequently played at the Los Angeles Tennis Club in Hollywood, which was located very close to the family home. Bob also played at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he won the junior tennis tournament in 1937 at 11 years of age. As a youngster, Bob participated in different tournaments around the city.

In 1942 and 1943, while attending Fairfax High School, Bob won the National Interscholastic singles title and won the national doubles title with his brother, Tom. In 1943, Bob became the Los Angeles city singles title holder. The following year he claimed the United States doubles crown with Don McNeill at Forest Hills, New York. In 1943, Bob became one of the youngest players to enter the US Top 10 amateur ranks. He remained in the US Top 10 for 5 years.

During World War II, he served in the military as an air cadet. However, being enlisted in the service did not put a complete halt to Bob’s tennis career and he continued to play occasionally while in the Air Force. In 1946, while attending the University of Southern California, he won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) singles and, with his brother Tom, doubles titles. Bob was very agile and was known for his powerful serves. At the age of 20 he was considered to have “the fastest serve in tennis.”

In 1947, Bob paired with Jack Kramer and together they won the Wimbledon doubles title. A year later, in 1948, Falkenburg reached the pinnacle of his tennis career by winning the Wimbledon singles championship. Exceedingly tall, Bob understood the limitations of his game and took full advantage of his greatest opportunity. At Wimbledon in 1948, he exploited his big serve and took calculated risks at the right times, coming away with that coveted title. In the final, the Australian John Bromwich was serving with a 5-3, 40-15 fifth-set lead over Falkenburg. Despite being double-match point down, Falkenburg won four consecutive games, recording an improbably victory, 7-5, 0-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

Falkenburg won Wimbledon because he was not only a great tennis player, but a great strategist. Fellow tennis player Tom Brown, who was a runner up in the 1947 Wimbledon Championships described Bob’s competitive approach: “He would review the situation, figure out what was likely and take chances.”

After marrying a Brazilian, Bob moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1950, where he played on the 1954 and 1955 Brazilian Davis Cup teams.

Bob Falkenburg not only found success on the tennis court and fast food industry, but he also had a successful amateur golf career. He played in many international golf championships and won the Brazilian amateur championship three times. He took part in renowned golf tournaments including the Bob Hope Desert Classic, where his team won in 1967; the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, where he played several times; the Eisenhower Cup, where he played for Brazil in Rome in 1964, Mexico City in 1966 and Melbourne in 1968; and the British Amateur Golf Championship, where he led the American contingent on the first qualifying round after having a hole-in-one at Carnoustie, Scotland.

Bob had a total of 14 holes-in-one during his life. He also participated as an amateur in various European golf championships in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and several Scandinavian countries.

In 1970, the Falkenburgs moved back to Southern California and in 1974, at the age of 48, he sold the “Bob’s” chain (which at the time had 12 stores) to Libby of Brazil (later acquired by Nestlé). Retired in Los Angeles, Bob spent a lot of time playing golf at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he would often play with former Laker player and good friend Jerry West and others. Later, Bob went on to become the president of the club.

Bob Falkenburg has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame, including: the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1974), the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame (1985), the Fairfax High School Hall of Fame (1999), the USC Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame (2010).

Bob Falkenburg died on 6 January 2022 at his home in Santa Ynez, California. He was 95.



Media


Archive statistics 1942 - 1955
13
255
178


Tournament wins 1951 - Rio De Janeiro International (Amateur)
1951 - Brazil Championships (Open)
1950 - Ojai Championships (Open)
1950 - Rio De Janeiro International (Amateur)
1950 - River Oaks Tournament (WCT Circuit)
1948 - Ojai Championships (Open)
1948 - Wimbledon (Grandslam)
1947 - Queens Club Tournament (ATP)
1946 - Intercollegiate Championships (Amateur)
1946 - Argentina International Championships (Open)
1946 - Town House Invitational (Amateur)
1943 - Seattle City Championship (Open)
1942 - Southwest Championships (Open)


Tournaments US Open - 1955 Newport Casino - 1955 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1955 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1955 Brazil Championships - 1955 Westchester - 1955 Tijuca Tennis Club - 1955 Wimbledon - 1954 Roland Garros - 1954 Queens Club Tournament - 1954 Italian International Championships - 1954 Kent Championships - 1954 Northern Lawn Tennis Association Tournament - 1954 Bermuda Championships - 1953 Coral Beach Club Invitation - 1953 Sao Paulo International - 1953 South American Championship - 1952 Argentina International Championships - 1951 Brazil Championships - 1951 Rio De Janeiro International - 1951 Sao Paulo - 1951 Southern California Championship - 1950 River Oaks Tournament - 1950 Palm Springs - 1950 Ojai Championships - 1950 Rio De Janeiro International - 1950 Wimbledon - 1949 Southern California Championship - 1949 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1949 River Oaks Tournament - 1949 Inland Empire Championships - 1949 Ojai Championships - 1949 Wimbledon - 1948 US Open - 1948 Newport Casino - 1948 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1948 Seabright Invitational - 1948 Southern California Championship - 1948 Queens Club Tournament - 1948 Ojai Championships - 1948 Sao Paulo International - 1948 Paris Invitational - 1948 Wimbledon - 1947 Monte Carlo - 1947 US Open - 1947 Nice - 1947 Newport Casino - 1947 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1947 Seabright Invitational - 1947 Southern California Championship - 1947 Spring Lake Invitation Tournament - 1947 Queens Club Tournament - 1947 US International Indoor Championships - 1947 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1947 Heart of America - 1947 US Open - 1946 Newport Casino - 1946 Pacific Coast Championship - 1946 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1946 Seabright Invitational - 1946 Southern California Championship - 1946 US Clay Courts - 1946 Western States Championships - 1946 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1946 La Jolla Tournament - 1946 Argentina International Championships - 1946 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1946 Beverly Hills - 1946 Pan American Championships - 1946 Intercollegiate Championships - 1946 Town House Invitational - 1946 US Open - 1945 Pan American Championships - 1945 US Open - 1944 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1944 La Jolla Tournament - 1944 US Open - 1943 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1943 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1943 New Hampshire Shore Championships - 1943 La Jolla Tournament - 1943 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1943 Seattle City Championship - 1943 California Mid-Winter - 1943 Pan American Championships b - 1943 US Open - 1942 Longwood Bowl - 1942 Newport Casino - 1942 Southwest Championships - 1942 Palm Springs - 1942

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