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Bob Newhart (1929)

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  Summary  

George Robert Newhart , known professionally as Bob Newhart, is an American stand-up comedian and actor. Noted for his deadpan and slightly stammering delivery, Newhart came to prominence in the 1960s when his album of comedic monologues The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart was a worldwide bestseller and reached #1 on the Billboard pop music charts—it remains the 20th best-selling comedy album in history. The follow-up album, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Again! was also a massive success, and both albums held the Billboard #1 and #2 spots simultaneously, a feat unequaled until the 1991 release of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II by hard rock band Guns N' Roses.

Newhart later went into acting, starring in two long-running and prize-winning situation comedies, first as psychologist Dr. Robert "Bob" Hartley on the 1970s sitcom The Bob Newhart Show and then as innkeeper Dick Loudon on the 1980s sitcom Newhart. He also had a third short-lived sitcom in the nineties titled Bob. Newhart also appeared in film roles such as Major Major in Catch-22, and Papa Elf in Elf. He provided the voice of Bernard in the Walt Disney animated films The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. One of his most recent roles is the library head Judson in The Librarian.

  Biography  

 early life
Newhart was born in Oak Park, Illinois and raised on the west side of Chicago. His parents were Julia Pauline (née Burns; 1900–1993), a housewife of Irish descent, and George David Newhart (1900–1985), a part-owner of a plumbing and heating-supply business, who was of Irish and German ancestry. Newhart has three sisters, Virginia, Mary Joan , and Pauline.

He was educated at Roman Catholic schools in the area, including St. Catherine of Siena grammar school in Oak Park, and attended St. Ignatius College Prep, where he graduated in 1947. He then enrolled at Loyola University of Chicago where he graduated in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in business management.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served stateside during the Korean War as a personnel manager until discharged in 1954. Newhart briefly attended Loyola Law School but did not complete a degree, in part, he says, because he was asked to behave unethically during an internship.

 career
After the war he got a job as an accountant for United States Gypsum. He later claimed that his motto, "That's close enough," and his habit of adjusting petty cash imbalances with his own money shows he didn't have the temperament to be an accountant. He also claimed to have been a clerk in the unemployment office who made $55 a week but who quit upon learning weekly unemployment benefits were $45 a week and he "only had to come in to the office one day a week to collect it."

 Comedy albums

In 1958, Newhart became an advertising copywriter for Fred A. Niles, a major independent film and television producer in Chicago. It was at the company that he and a coworker would entertain each other with long telephone calls about absurd scenarios, which they would later record and send to radio station as audition tapes. When his coworker ended his participation, Newhart continued the recordings alone, developing the shtick which was to serve him well for decades. In addition to his various standup bits, he incorporated that shtick into his television series at appropriate times. The auditions led to his break-through recording contract. A disc jockey at the radio station — Dan Sorkin, who later became the announcer-sidekick on his NBC series—introduced Newhart to the head of talent at Warner Bros. Records, which signed him in 1959 — only a year after the label was formed — based solely on those recordings. He expanded his material into a stand-up routine which he began to perform at nightclubs.

Newhart became famous mostly on the strength of his audio releases, in which he became the world's first solo "straight man". This is a seeming contradiction in terms—by definition, a straight man is the counterpart of a more loony comedic partner. Newhart's routine, however, was simply to portray one end of a conversation , playing the straightest of comedic straight men and implying what the other person was saying. Newhart told a 2005 interviewer for PBS's American Masters that his favorite standup routine is "Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue," in which a slick promoter has to deal with the reluctance of the eccentric President to agree to efforts to boost his image. The routine was suggested to Newhart by a Chicago TV director and future comedian—Bill Daily, who would be Newhart's castmate on the 1970s Bob Newhart Show for CBS. Newhart became known for using an intentional stammer, in service of his unique combination of politeness and disbelief at what he was supposedly hearing. Newhart has used the delivery throughout his career. In his 2006 book I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This, he included the following anecdote:


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. It was the first comedy album to make #1 on the Billboard charts. Button Down Mind received the 1961 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album peaked at #2 in the UK Albums Chart. Newhart also won Best New Artist, and his quickly released follow-on album, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back, won Best Comedy Performance - Spoken Word that same year. Subsequent comedy albums include Behind the Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart , The Button-Down Mind on TV , Bob Newhart Faces Bob Newhart , The Windmills Are Weakening , This Is It , Best of Bob Newhart , and Very Funny Bob Newhart . Years later he released Bob Newhart Off the Record , The Button-Down Concert and Something Like This , an anthology of his 1960s Warner Bros. albums.

 Television
Newhart's success in stand-up led to his own NBC variety show in 1961, The Bob Newhart Show. The show lasted only a single season but earned Newhart an Emmy Award nomination and a Peabody Award. The Peabody Board cited him as:


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 and The Judy Garland Show. Newhart guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 87 times, and hosted Saturday Night Live twice, 15 years apart .

In addition to stand-up comedy, Newhart became a dedicated character actor, including a guest role on an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. That led to other series such as: Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Captain Nice, 2 episodes of Insight, and It's Garry Shandling's Show. He reprised his role as Dr. Bob Hartley on Murphy Brown and The Simpsons.

Newhart guest-starred on three episodes of ER for which he was nominated for an Emmy award, as well as on Desperate Housewives (see below in "Other Appearances"). He also appeared on Committed.

 Films
Primarily a television star, Newhart has been in a number of popular films, beginning with the 1962 war story Hell Is for Heroes starring Steve McQueen. His films have ranged from 1970's Barbra Streisand musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, the 1971 Norman Lear comedy Cold Turkey, the Mike Nichols-directed war satire Catch-22, to the 2003 Will Ferrell holiday comedy Elf.

Newhart played the President of the United States in a 1980 comedy, First Family. He appeared as a beleaguered school principal in 1997's In & Out, starring Kevin Kline.

His most recent film appearance was a cameo appearence as a sadistic CEO at the end of the 2011 film Horrible Bosses.

 personal life
Newhart was introduced by Buddy Hackett to Virginia "Ginnie" Quinn, the daughter of popular character actor Bill Quinn . They were married on January 12, 1963. The couple have four children , and several grandchildren. They are Catholic and raised their children as such, but Ginnie said they did not want them to have "the fears" that came from their upbringing. His son Rob (who portrayed his father in 1993's Heart & Souls, with Robert Downey Jr.) maintains his father's official website. Newhart is a good friend of comedian Don Rickles.

In 1985, Newhart was rushed to the emergency room, suffering with polycythemia, after years of heavy smoking. He made a recovery, several weeks after, and has since quit smoking.

Newhart is the uncle of Saturday Night Live castmember Paul Brittain.

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Bob Newhart", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.