Bob Newhart biography
Born on September 5, 1929, in Illinois, Bob Newhart was an accountant at the age of 30, who created monologues as a diversion from his everyday life. He became famous with his best-selling recording of his first nightclub engagement, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which was released in 1960. A dry-toned satirist, Newhart starred in the television sitcoms The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart and Bob.
Television actor and comedian Bob Newhart was born George Robert Newhart on September 5, 1929, in Oak Park, Illinois. One of four children, Newhart was born to George David Newhart and Julia Pauline Burns. Newhart picked up the name Bob while in high school. The commonly used phrase "Let George do it," prompted Newhart to change his name. Eventually he thought, "Maybe I'll go by Bob," thus the nickname was born.
After high school, Newhart attended the Loyola University of Chicago and graduated with an undergraduate degree in business management in 1952. Shortly after, he was drafted to the military. Newhart served in the Army from 1952-54, fighting in the Korean War. Upon his return, Newhart worked as an accountant and advertising copy editor in Chicago while also occasionally performing at a local theatrical stock company and writing comedy sketches for the radio.
While working at the ad agency, Newhart and co-worker Ed Gallagher would make extended, random phone calls to one another throughout the workday. They eventually decided to record the phone calls and use them as audition tapes for comedy work. Gallagher began concentrating more on his job at the agency, while Newhart continued doing the phone calls on his own, a bit that would eventually become a staple of his stand-up bit. In 1959, a disc jockey in Chicago heard his material and introduced Newhart to the head of talent at Warner Brothers Records, who signed the 30-year-old accountant to a contract based off of his recordings.
'The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart'
The year after he was signed by Warner Bros., Newhart released his first album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. Although the album was a collection of Newhart's first performances ever as a stand-up comedian, the untested venture into comedy proved to be the risk. Audiences appreciated Newhart's unique form of storytelling, which merged the comedian's sense of sensibility with absurd situations.
A huge success, Button-Down was the first comedy album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart, even beating out Elvis Presley's 1960 album The Sound of Music. Aside from the positive reaction that the got in terms of sales, critics also highly praised the album. For the album, Newhart received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year and another for Best New Artist. With such a popular debut album under his belt, Newhart released another comedy album the same year, entitled The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! For his sophomore album, he received another Grammy, this time for Best Comedy Performance - Spoken Word.
Film and Television Career
In the 1960s, Newhart began to branch out further than just being a strong voice in comedy; with several television performances he became a prominent face in comedy too.
In the fall of 1961, he was given a varity show on television, aptly titled The Bob Newhart Variety Show (1961-62). Critics praised the series for successfully translating the comedy in Newhart's albums to the small screen—the series was awarded a Peabody Award in 1961 and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor in 1962—but the series didn't get the ratings to keep it on the air for more than on season.
It may have been Newhart's first attempt at leading a television show, but it definitely wasn't his last. But before he made his re-emergence in television, Newhart made his film debut the same year that his variety show was cancelled. He had a supporting role in the film Hell Is for Heroes. He began to prioritize films and television roles over nightclub performances and appeared in a series of films in the late-1960s and '70s, including Hot Millions (1968), Catch-22 (1970) and Cold Turkey (1971), before he got his second television series.
'The Bob Newhart Show'
Instead of the previous variety show format, The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78) was a sitcom on CBS that featured Newhart as a psychologist in Chicago. The show was well-received by audiences, possibly because of the traditional essence of the series during a time when other television programs were becoming more controversial. With an all-star cast and Newhart at the helm, the sitcom lasted six seasons before the cast and crew decided to end the series.
He took a hiatus from television for four years, then returned with yet another popular sitcom, simply named Newhart (1982-90). With another all-star cast behind him, Newhart's new lead role was got the actor and the series several Emmy nominations. After the show's conclusion, Newhart came back to television with the series Bob in 1992, the the series only lasted one season. In 2013, he made an appearance on the popular series The Big Bang Theory, for which he surprisingly received his first Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.