Bob Newhart

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Bob Newhart is an American actor, comedian and writer famous for his timing and bemused demeanor in delivering lines.
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Bob Newhart is an American actor, comedian and writer famous for his timing and bemused demeanor in delivering lines.

George Robert Newhart, popularly known as Bob Newhart (born September 5, 1929), is an American actor, comedian and writer. A native of Chicago, Illinois and graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep and later Loyola University Chicago, Newhart is known for his deadpan delivery and his slight stammer. Several of his funniest acts involve hearing him talk as one half of a conversation, often over the phone. In King Kong, a rookie security guard at the Empire State Building seeks guidance as to how to deal with the monster who is "taking up 19 or 20 storeys, depending on whether there is a 13th storey". He assures his boss he has looked in the manual "under 'ape' and 'ape's toes'".

Newhart, a former accountant and copywriter, began his comedy career as a popular stand up comedian in the 1950s. His 1960 comedy album, The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart, went straight to number one on the charts, beating Elvis Presley and the cast album of The Sound of Music. Button Down Mind received the 1961 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

In the mid 1960s, Newhart appeared on The Dean Martin Show 24 times, and The Ed Sullivan Show 8 times. From 1972 to 1978, Newhart starred in the popular Bob Newhart Show on CBS in which he played a Chicago psychologist and husband of co-star, Suzanne Pleshette.

Newhart guest hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson a total of 87 times.

In 1982, Newhart returned to primetime with a new sitcom, Newhart, on CBS, co-starring Mary Frann. When the show went off the air in 1990, it ended with a surreal episode where Newhart wakes up in the morning on the set of his 1970s show and realizes that the entire Newhart series had been a dream. The premise of the final show has come to be referred to as "breaking the fifth wall" - the fifth wall being that no two television characters could possibly be the same person. The idea for that last show came from Newhart's wife, Virginia Quinn. The two were married on January 12, 1963 and have four children together (Robert, Timothy, Jennifer, and Courtney), although Newhart has an informal rule that he never be a father of a young child in his television shows. When this was attempted by the writers of The Bob Newhart Show in one episode, Newhart's response to the writers about the initial script was "Suzanne and I love the script, but who are you going to get to play Bob?"

In 1992, Newhart made an attempt to come back to television with a series called Bob. But it did not develop a strong audience and went off the air two years later. In 1997, Newhart returned again with George and Leo on CBS. The show, which co-starred Judd Hirsch, was cancelled by the network before it really had much of a chance to succeed (its ratings were actually not poor at all, CBS cancelled it because they felt it was too "old fashioned"). In 2005 he is appearing in several episodes of Desperate Housewives as Morty, the on-again off-again boyfriend of Susan Mayer's (Teri Hatcher) mother Sophie (Lesley Ann Warren).

Contents

Honors

On January 6, 1999 Newhart received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2002 he won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. On July 27, 2004, the American cable television network TV Land unveiled a statue of Newhart on the Magnificent Mile in his native Chicago, depicting Dr. Robert Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show.

TV Work

Filmography


Further reading

  • Mayerly, Judine. The Most Inconspicuous Hit on Television: A Case Study of Newhart. Washington, DC: Journal of Popular Film and Television, 1989.
  • Sorenson, Jeff. Bob Newhart. New York: St. Martin's, 1988.
  • Reilly, Rick. Who's Your Caddy: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf.

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