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Bob Newhart

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Interesting documentary on Newhart on BBC Radio 4 last Saturday. I had not realised that George Avakian

had played a key role in his success. Both Newhart and Avakian were interviewed, the latter still going

strong in his 10th decade.

Newhart was very popular in the UK as well back then. He did a Royal Variety Performance which I remember

seeing on television.

I also learnt that Avakian is pronounced with short rather than long "a"'s!

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There was a PBS documentary a while back about Bob Newhart. It was interesting to see and hear how much he was responsible for both of his long run television series. He wasn't just a funny guy who had shows written around him. His fellow cast members all said that he knew exactly what he wanted and was a master of getting the timing of lines right, even when he might not have been directly involved in a scene. I ended up with a lot more respect for him and his talents after watching that documentary.

Wonder if the BBC documentary was the same as the PBS one, or if the BBC did its own.

Edited by paul secor

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Newhart has always been a favorite. Shame, since I was born in '69, that I missed most of his first series. I remember it vaguely, and have seem maybe a dozen episodes in syndication (or more likely TBS) over the years, but what little I've seen, I remember very fondly.

Our house usually watched his 2nd series, and I remember it better.

Such a great guy, and his timing was impeccable. I have a couple disc compilation of his comedy records, and those one-sided phone conversations are priceless.

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Man, I see these thread titles and my first thought is "uh oh!".

I've long been a fan, through both series, but I first got to know of him through his early stand-up records my parents owned. I had the opportunity to play for his live act when I was in KC. He was very funny and very friendly with the band. A great and very funny guy.

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I transcribed and indexed some interviews with him for a project a few years ago. Seemed like a really interesting guy, and of course hilarious. Definitely more "in control" than some of the television-show contexts would have you believe.

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He's done a little straight acting as well, on ER for instance (Wikipedia says it was a 3-episode story-arc, for which Newhart won an Emmy!).

Kinda cool to see him in a different context.

Funny thing I just read from the Wiki on Bob...

By 1977, the [first Bob Newhart] show was suffering lackluster ratings and Newhart wanted to end it, but was under contract to do one more season. The show's writers tried to rework the sitcom by adding a pregnancy, but Newhart objected: "I told the creators I didn't want any children, because I didn't want it to be a show about 'How stupid Daddy is, but we love him so much, let's get him out of the trouble he's gotten himself into'." Nevertheless, the staff wrote an episode that they hoped would change Newhart's mind. Newhart read the script and he agreed it was very funny. He then asked, "Who are you going to get to play Bob?"
Edited by Rooster_Ties

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The key to really getting those early Newhart bits is to realize that he was a corporate office worker pretty much up to the day that his first album came out. So he comes by that dry "button down" style honestly as well as epicly.

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Another funny bit from the Wiki...

On the 2006 Emmy Awards, hosted by Conan O'Brien, Newhart was placed in a supposedly airtight glass prison that contained three hours of air. If the Emmys went over the time of three hours, he would die. This gag was an acknowledgment of the common frustration that award shows usually run on past their allotted time (which is usually three hours). Newhart "survived" his containment to help O'Brien present the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series (which went to The Office.)

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Something I posted a few years ago (slightly modified):

I interviewed Newhart once, over lunch at I think the Bel Air Country Club in connection with the movie "The First Family," in which he played a befuddled, Jimmy Carter-like president, with Madeline Kahn as his wife and Gilda Radner as his daughter. The movie was not so hot, but Newhart's account of it over lunch (I hadn't seen it yet) was hilarious. What a nice guy.

One thing I particularly liked about him -- and this comes through in much of his work -- is that in a seemingly quite ego-less way he can be actively amused by something that he himself has said or done. It's as though he has an ongoing sense of the multi-faceted absurdities of life, and that he is inside the fence.

Another bit about that lunch-interview. We were accompanied by a veteran publicist with a very leathery tan (probably he was connected with the film company). Serving as a potential minder of some sort, as the lunch went on he seemed almost appalled that Newhart and I were having such a good time. It's as though he expected me to ask Newhart a flurry of questions rather than just talk back and forth, and if I didn't do that, no work was being done. But as long as the tape recorder was on, I knew that Newhart was doing most of the work for me -- I just had to go back to Chicago and write it up.

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Funny that Bob Newhart should come up here. I have recently started watching his second series (along with The Rockford Files) on Netflix and Hulu. More recently, I believe he did a story arc on Desperate Housewives.

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Man, I see these thread titles and my first thought is "uh oh!".

....

Me too! Glad that wasn't the case! As a weird child, I watched and seemingly enjoyed the Bob Newhart show, then watched Newhart, then Bob, and Lord help me, I even liked George and Leo!

My late Mother watched Desperate Housewives , and even though he was just on a few shows, he was just hilarious....can't seem to find a clip, and I won't be able to describe it well, but someone asks him to do a favor for her, and she says in a kind way, will you do it?? He starts to nod yes, but says no way....perfect comedic timing mechanism deep inside of him.

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I grew up with his third album, which my sister in college got. I wore it out!

Maybe three years ago my sister gave me his autobiography for Christmas. I found it interesting, but not particularly funny. But because of the book, the following Christmas I spent some Xmas money on his "Best of" double CD set. Lots of good laughs there!

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My god, this thread feels like he died; will y'all just stop it?

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My god, this thread feels like he died; will y'all just stop it?

Oh, Moose, don't go there. Just Stop It, ok?

By the way, he actually is starting up a tour and is coming through Chicago soon. Don't know what the other stops are.

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A little thing, but the title of that movie was "First Family" (1980), not "The First Family."

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After the Grammy's this year there was discussion about the Esperanza Spalding "best new artist" award, and I popped over to Wikipedia to see the list of New Artist recipients over the years.

1961: Bob Newhart :tup

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Bob Newhart is the best.

His first show, the one from the 70's, was on through much of my teen years, and i feel it was somehow formative on my whole mental outlook.

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I feel the same way about Suzanne Pleshette...

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I feel the same way about Suzanne Pleshette...

Yes, indeedy!

suzie2.jpg

And from the "Bob Newhart Show" era:

lb0123_pleshette_01-23-08_KD8N90N.jpg

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I remember seeing a show about Bob Newhart on PBS many years ago. On it there was a film clip of a time Ralph Edwards dropped by, and started his intro into This Is Your Life. Pleshette naturally took a step back to allow Newhart to enjoy the spotlight, only to discover to her horror that Ralph was there to see her and not him!

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I remember seeing a show about Bob Newhart on PBS many years ago. On it there was a film clip of a time Ralph Edwards dropped by, and started his intro into This Is Your Life. Pleshette naturally took a step back to allow Newhart to enjoy the spotlight, only to discover to her horror that Ralph was there to see her and not him!

I think I saw that PBS show. It's the one with the early clip of him on an airplane with Hitler (who you never see) sitting in the seat next to him. That skit tugged on all his comic gifts, not the least of which were his wonderful facial reactions.

If I understand correctly, before he hit it big, Newhart was an accountant. Seems about right. That last scene from his second show is, at least in my mind, the best wrap in the history of television. It was suggested by Newhart's wife at a party.

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