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Bob Newhart

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Bob Newhart

File:Bob Newhart crop.jpg

Birth name: George Robert Newhart

Born: September 5, 1929 (aget 84), Oak Park, Illinois, United States

Medium: Stand-up, film, television

Nationality: American

Years active: 1958 - present

Genres: Sketch comedy, Satire

Subject(s): American culture

Influences: Jack Benny, robert Benchley, H. Allen Smith, James Thurber, Max Shulman

Influenced: Ellen DeGeneres, Lewis Black, Norm Macdonald, David Steinberg, Ray Romano, Tom Rhodes, Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno

Spouse: Virginia Quinn (1964 - present)(4 children)

Notable works and roles: The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,
Major Major Major Major in Catch-22
Dr. Robert Hartley in The Bob Newhart Show
Dick Loudon in Newhart

Golden Globe Awards: 

Best TV Star -- Male 1962

Grammy Awards:

Album of the Year, 1961 "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart"

Best New Artist 1961

Best Comedy Performance, 1961, "The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!"

Bob Newhart is best known for his role as Dr. Robert "Bob" Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show (1970).  He is also known for his role as Dick Loudon in Newhart, a sitcom from the 1980s.  He played Major Major in Catch-22 and Papa Elf in Elf.

Newhart was born in Chicago.  His mother, Julia Pauline, was a housewife.  His father, George David Newhart was a part-owner of a plumbing and heating business.  His mother was of Irish and his father was German.  So that's a lot of drinking and strictness.  We don't know if there actually was any drinking or strictness.  Newhart is just a nice guy.  He seems like he was raised right.

Newhart has three sisters, Virginia, Mary Joan, and Pauline.

He went to a Catholic school.  Well that would be some strictness.  He has a bachelor's degree in business management.  He knows how to management his money from all his acting gigs.  He's shown up on television and in the movies here and there.

Newhart served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

After the war he became an accountant for United States Gypsum.  His funny motto for accounting was "That's close enough".  Accounting wasn't for him.  Newhart claimed to have worked as a clerk in the unemployment office.  He made $55 a week but quit when he found out that unemployment benefits were $45 per week.  He said they and "they only had to come in to the office one day a week to collect it."

In 1958, Newhart became an advertising copywriter for Fred A. Niles, a film and television producer in Chicago.  He and a coworker had long telephone conversations that they recorded as audition recordings for local radio station.  When his coworker stopped recording with him, Newhart continued making recordings on his own.  This was where he developed a lot of the material he would use later in life.  The auditions got him a recording contract.  The disc jockey at the radio station, Dan Sorkin, introduced Newhart to the head of talent at Warner Bros. Records.  Dan Sorkin worked with Newhart on his NBC series.  Newhart used his material to do his stand-up when he worked at nightclubs.

Newhart became famous for his audio releases.  He became known as the world's first solo "straight man".  A lot of his routines showed his part of telephone conversations that he created.  Some of his favorite routines include "abe Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue."  In that routine an advertising expert tries to work with Abe Lincoln to help boost Lincoln's image.  

One of the gimmicks Newhart uses is an intentional stammer.  This helps his look like he is being polite and not believing what he is hearing from the person on the other side of the phone.

In 1961 his stand-up work led to Newhart getting his own NBC variety show, The Bob Newhart Show.  The show only lasted one season but it earned Newhart an Emmy Award nomination and a Peabody Award.

In the mid-1960s Newhart appeared on The Dean Martin Show 24 times, and The Ed Sullivan Show eight times.  He appeared in a 1963 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  Newhart guest hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 87 times, and hosted Saturday Night Live twice, in 1980 and again in 1995.  He also appeared in Desperate Housewives as Morty, Susan's step-dad.

Newhart's most notable exposure on television came from two long running programs centering on him. Newhart guest-starred on the Smothers Brothers show which was written by David Davis and Lorenzo Music. Soon after, in 1972, he was approached by his agent and his managers, producer Grant Tinker and actress Mary Tyler Moore (the husband/wife team who founded MTM Enterprises), to work on a pilot series called The Bob Newhart Show, to be written by Davis and Music. He was very interested in the starring role, of psychologist Dr. Robert "Bob" Hartley. The show faced heavy competition from the beginning, launching at the same time as the popular shows M*A*S*H, Maude, Sanford And Son, and The Waltons. Nevertheless, The Bob Newhart Show was an immediate hit. According to co-star Marcia Wallace, the entire cast got along well, and Newhart became close friends with both Wallace and co-star Suzanne Pleshette. According to Wallace, "I had a dog that I used to bring to the set by the name of Maggie. And whenever there was a line that Bob didn't like --- he didn't want to complain too much --- so, he'd go over, get down on his hands and knees, and repeat the line to the dog, who invariably yawned; and he'd say, 'See, I told you it's not funny!'"

By 1977, the show was suffering lackluster ratings and Newhart wanted to end it, but was under contract to do one more season. Newhart's wife gave birth to their daughter Jenny late in the year, which caused him to miss several episodes. Newhart finally pulled the plug on his own sitcom in 1978, after six seasons, and 142 episodes.

In 1981, Newhart spoke to Barry Kemp at CBC and the show, Newhart, was created.  Newhart was to play a Vermount innkeeper Dick Loudon.  Mary Frann played the part of his wife on the show.  The show was an immediate hit.  The show was nominated for Emmys but Bob didn't win any awards.  Newhart's smoking habits caught up to him during the making of Newhart.  He ended up in the hospital suffering from plycythemia.  His doctors ordered him to stop smoking.

During the making of Newhart, Newhart would warm up the audience before the main recording.  Peter Scolari says that Newhart dealt with not being able to smoke by doing a bit during the audience warm up.  Newhart would have the spotlight operator move around the spotlight on the stage, while Newhart said "And I haven't had any of the problems that people usually talk about having with the... with the smoking --- impatience, outbursts of anger, appetite. I haven't really... look, put it on me or get it off me! Just make up your mind!"

In 1987, the ratings for Newhart began to drop and in 1990 the show was cancelled.  It had run 8 seasons and 182 episodes.  The last episode included a bit where Newhart woke up in bed with his wife from The Bob Newhart Show.  The story is supposed to be that the show Newhart was all a nightmare that Dr. Bob Hartley had because he had too much Japanese food the night before.  Newhart's character remembers Mary Frann's full figure and the tightness of her clothing.  The last line from Bob to Emily is "You should really wear more sweaters."  the theme from the old Bob Newhart Show played as the scene faded out.

Newhart appeared on ER and was nominated for an Emmy Award.  In 2005 Newhart had a recurring role in Desperate Housewives.  In 2006, Newhart appeared on the Emmy Awards show.  He was part of a gag.  He was in a glass prison that had only three hours of air and if the show went over three hours he would die.

Newhart is known for straight-faced humor.  He used a slight stammer as part of most of his characters.  On his TV shows he usually worked things out so that other characters around him got most of the laughs.

Some of Newhart's audio recordings include a rookie security guard on his first day working at the Empire State Building.  The lucky guard is starting on a day when King Kong visits the building in his famous way.  

Another great recording were the Driving Instructor, The Mrs. Grace L. Ferguson Airline (and Storm Door Company), "Introducing Tobacco To Civilization", and "Abe  Lincoln's Press Secretary".

 Some famous quotes from Bob Newhart

Bob: "I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'." (Source: basicjokes.com)

Bob on pleasure: "All I can say about life is, Oh God, enjoy it!" (Source: QuotationsPage.com)

Bob on his ritual: "This stammer got me a home in Beverly Hills, and I'm not about to screw with it now." (Source: Mindofuseless.info)

Bob who knows there's nothing wrong with laughter: "Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on." (Source: Myfamousquotes.com)

Bob when he realized it was difficult talking to people on his own phone: "It's getting harder and harder to differentiate between schizophrenics and people talking on a cell phone. It still brings me up short to walk by somebody who appears to be talking to themselves." (Source: Noyemi.com)

Bob on drinking alcoholic beverages on airplanes: "I'm one of those passengers who arrives at the airport five or six hours early so I can throw back a few drinks and muster up the courage to board the plane. Apparently I'm not alone because I've never been in an empty airport bar. I don't care what time you get there. Even at 8:00 a.m. you have to fight your way to the bar. At that hour, everyone drinks Bloody Marys so no one can tell it's booze- at least until they fall off their chair." (Source: Goodreads.com)

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