The Bob Newhart Show premiered on CBS on September 16, 1972, starring Newhart as psychologist Dr. Robert Hartley, with Suzanne Pleshette playing his wife, Emily Hartley. It ran for six seasons, and ended on April 1, 1978, with its 142nd episode. Bill Daily, Peter Bonerz, and Marcia Wallace also starred. The CBS sitcom also featured a large recurring cast, including Jack Riley, Tom Poston, and Howard Hesseman.
To commemorate The Bob Newhart Show‘s 45th anniversary, the Television Academy threw a celebration Tuesday night, at the Wolf Theatre in North Hollywood, hosted by Conan O’Brien and featuring Newhart, himself. Check out the photos at the end of this article. Newhart’s former co-star, Bonerz, made an appearance during the 90 minute tribute.
Bob Newhart: Dr. Hartley Never Helped Anybody | Conan | TBS
Bob Newhart Remembers His Friend Don Rickles
Bob Newhart Explains How He & Axl Rose Are Linked
Here’s more on the tribute, from Variety:
“I’m so glad about tonight,” proclaimed Newhart on the academy’s recognition of the series’ milestone anniversary.
O’Brien, who had worked with Newhart on a comedy bit at the 2006 Emmy Awards, said he grew up watching “The Bob Newhart Show” on Saturday nights after “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and before “The Carol Burnett Show” with his brothers and father.
Peter Bonerz joined Newhart and O’Brien about an hour into the 90-minute tribute. “You guys really liked each other,” O’Brien said of their chemistry onscreen.
“That’s true of a strong ensemble,” said Bonerz. “’Saturday Night Live,’ ‘Second City’ — ensembles are extremely important in show business.”
Before the event, in a separate interview with Variety, Newhart chatted about the show.
The series, he said, is timeless because they shied away from political or topical jokes that would date the series in syndication. “I told the writers this show is going to be syndicated and we are going to look pretty silly in 20 years if we are doing a Gerald Ford joke. And I was right. It’s easy to write topical jokes, but you are going to look stupid. They all agreed.”
O’Brien later told Newhart that he saw ripples of his show in “Seinfeld,” “Cheers” and “Parks & Recreation.” “I see a huge influence your show has had,” the late-night host said. “Are you willing to take credit for all of those programs here tonight?”
Newhart paused before he replied, “Yes. Notice the pause.”
Though he is a father and grandfather in real life, Newhart didn’t want his character to have any children.
“I love kids. I have four of my own but I didn’t want to be the dumb father that seemed to be in every sitcom,” said Newhart. “I said that wasn’t the kind of show I wanted to do. And that was one of the more unusual things about the show.”
And so was the fact that Bob and Emily shared the same bed. In fact, Newhart noted, it was the first series to show a couple sharing the bed. Other classic sitcoms such as “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the couples slept in twin beds.
“Were you aware you were breaking some kind of boundary?” asked O’Brien.
“Yes, it was intentional,” Newhart said laughing, adding “We thought it was important that America learn to deal [with couples sharing the same bed].”
Though “The Bob Newhart Show” wasn’t topical, two of the clips illustrated the comedy didn’t avoid social issues like homosexuality and racial tensions. Newhart said they weren’t worried how people would react to the episode featuring Howard Hesseman as a gay man. “It was a great piece of writing. I couldn’t wait to play it.”
O’Brien moved the conversation to Newhart’s great friend, comic Don Rickles, who died at the age of 90 in April.
“I made him laugh, he made me laugh,” said Newhart, who met Rickles because their wives were friends. “We made several vacations. He was a wonderful man. I think I’m still in denial. We all lost a friend.”
Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune reports that some Chicagoans are still miffed about The Bob Newhart Show‘s opening credits sequence. You can watch the (non-embeddable) video at that link, but here’s the conversation:
It’s been nearly 40 years since the final episode of “The Bob Newhart Show” aired, yet some Chicagoans are still mad about the Chicago-set sitcom’s opening credits, Newhart told Conan O’Brien Monday on “Conan.”
On “The Bob Newhart Show,” which aired from 1972-78, Newhart plays a psychologist who works on Michigan Avenue and appears to get off the train in Evanston yet goes to his home in Chicago’s Edgewater area.
“I get on what in Chicago was the Ravenswood ‘L,’ and I’m taking that, I’m going home from the office. And I get off, the little station I get off at, that’s on the ground — the ‘L’ at some point goes on the ground — which is about 55 blocks from our apartment. I do this every day. I miss my stop and walk back 55 blocks to our apartment,” said the 87-year-old Newhart, who was born in Oak Park and raised in the city. “Now, would you want a therapist who missed his stop every day?”
“Conan” airs at 10 p.m. weeknights on TBS.
Finally, Newhart also shared some photos from the Television Academy event. Check them out.
What do you think? Are you a fan of The Bob Newhart Show? Did you catch Newhart’s appearance on Conan, on Monday night?