Bob Newhart, an iconic figure in the world of comedy, has graced audiences with his unique wit and humor for more than six decades. From his early stand-up days to his successful ventures in television and film, Newhart’s career is a testament to his enduring talent and cultural impact.
And to our delight, Newhart is still going strong today, at the age of 94. Here, we look back at his career and highlights of his life.
Bob Newhart’s start in comedy
Born George Robert Newhart on September 5, 1929, in Oak Park, Illinois, Bob Newhart discovered his knack for comedy at an early age. After earning a degree in business management, he worked as an accountant, but soon found his true calling in the world of comedy.
Newhart’s foray into the entertainment industry began with his groundbreaking stand-up comedy routines. In 1960, he released his debut album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which became an instant hit. The album’s success earned him the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, making Newhart a household name.
The Bob Newhart Show, 1961
Buoyed by the success of his comedy album, Newhart transitioned into television with The Bob Newhart Show in 1961. Thought his variety show only aired from October 1961 to June 1962, it earned him a Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Hell is for Heroes, 1962
In addition to TV, Newhart also appeared in movies including the 1962 movie Hell Is for Heroes, starring Steve McQueen. This movie tells the story of a squad of U.S. soldiers from the 95th Infantry Division who, in the fall of 1944, must hold off an entire German company for approximately 48 hours along the Siegfried Line until reinforcements reach them. Newhart received critical acclaim for his role.
The Bob Newhart Show 1972-1978
Bob Newhart returned to his television roots for the successful second iteration of The Bob Newhart Show in 1976. This sitcom ran for six seasons, earning critical acclaim and solidifying his status as a television icon. His portrayal of Dr. Robert Hartley, surrounded by eccentric characters, showcased Newhart’s impeccable comedic timing. He starred alongside Suzanne Pleshette and I Dream of Jeannie‘s Bill Daily.
The Rescuers, 1977
Not wanting to be pigeon-holed, in 1977 Newhart’s voice starred in The Rescuers, a fan favorite movie. This Disney animated film starred Newhart opposite Eva Gabor as Bernard and Bianca. Together, these two mice are members of the Rescue Aid Society, an international mouse organization dedicated to helping abduction victims around the world.
Little Miss Marker, 1980
Bob Newhart shared the screen with an all-star cast including Walter Matthau and Julie Andrews in Little Miss Marker. Directed by Walter Bernstein, this movie is a remake from the 1930s version which starred Shirley Temple. In the 1980s version, the chemistry between Hollywood funny guys Newhart and Walter Matthau made this an instant hit.
Newhart went back to TV again in his 1980s comedy Newhart. This sitcom has Newhart playing innkeeper Dick Loudon in a rural Vermont town filled with interesting neighbors. Newhart stars alongside Mary Frann and Tom Poston.
Bob Newhart in the 1990s and beyond
The ’90s brought new ventures to Newhart, including voicing Bernard in the sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990). He also starred in yet another sitcom, this one called Bob (1992-1993). Newhart also appeared in the sitcom George & Leo (1997-1998).
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Newhart continued to grace screens with roles in films like In & Out (1997). He became an instant star in the Christmas comedy Elf (2003) starring Will Ferrell and James Caan. He also played a role in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003).
Bob Newhart’s comedic brilliance found a new audience with his role as Arthur Jeffries (Professor Proton) in The Big Bang Theory (2013). This marked a late-career resurgence, earning him a Primetime Emmy award. Newhart never stops surprising us.
Bob Newhart’s wife and family
Beyond the spotlight, Bob Newhart married Virginia Quinn in 1963 and they had a long and meaningful marriage, until she passed away in April of 2023. The couple raised four children together. Their enduring marriage has been a testament to Newhart’s commitment not only to his craft but also to his family.
Bob Newhart’s impact on comedy is immeasurable. His dry wit, deadpan delivery, and ability to find humor in everyday situations have inspired countless comedians. From the stages of stand-up comedy to the sets of beloved television shows, Newhart’s journey is one marked by talent, dedication, and a unique ability to connect with audiences.
For more classic stars, keep reading…