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Bob Newhart

About Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart is perhaps the only man in the world who can talk to himself on the phone without people looking at him strangely. He, of the world-famous one-way phone conversations, is also a household name to generations, thanks to his two extremely successful, long-running television series. And he is picking up new fans everyday, from youngsters to college students, who watch him nightly on "Nick at Nite" and who attend his comedy concerts in large numbers.

Bob still performs in comedy concerts, opting to continue live performances before sellout audiences all over the country and the world. With routines created by Bob from today's newspapers in his unique style, and some of his early classic routines (which audiences demand he perform), he is still garnering critical raves and pleasing audiences at the same time.

And now, he has entered another arena in the world of comedy with the release of his very first video, filmed at a live performance, where an appreciative audience got to see him perform his greatest one-man telephone comedy classics. (Nick at Nite Records has also released the audio portion of the video as a CD.)

His career began when, after Army service, Bob worked as an accountant and an advertising copywriter. He was also performing in a theatrical stock company (his real love) in his hometown, Chicago.

During this time, Bob and a friend at the ad agency, Ed Gallagher, used to amuse themselves by making long, antic phone calls to each other, which they recorded as audition tapes for what Bob calls "a poor man's Bob & Ray syndicated radio show." When Gallagher decided to drop out and opted instead for an advertising career, Bob simply "picked up the slack," as he puts it, and thus was born his famous one-man, two-way telephone conversations.

In 1959 he was introduced by a Chicago disc jockey to the head of talent at Warner Bros. Records, who immediately signed him to a contract. Thus was born "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart," which became the first comedy album to go number one on the charts. He was an immediate sellout in comedy concerts, in nightclubs and on theatre stages all over America.

Seven more albums followed, each extremely successful, selling in the millions. In fact, his longevity record for holding the number one and number two chart positions simultaneously was not broken until 1995 (by Guns 'n Roses), though it was set 35 years earlier.

When Billboard issued their 100 Most Popular Albums of the past 40 years, Bob was not only the only comedian on the list, but he came in at number 20, besting some of the greatest recording talents, like The Beatles, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, and many more.

So the television networks, always in need of the largest possible audience, looked to Bob Newhart to supply them. His first series was a variety show, and it won the coveted Peabody Award and an Emmy.

But could he act? Until Bob's first comedy series, comedians had been invited on television either to do their old nightclub routines on variety shows like "The Ed Sullivan Show," or, if given their own series, like Milton Berle and Sid Caesar, to do the routines they had done from burlesque days onward. Sketch routine was the only game at that time.

Of course the answer was a resounding yes! "The Bob Newhart Show" debuted in 1972 on CBS, making the beginning of a six-year run. It co-starred Suzanne Pleshette as Bob's wife, Emily, and one of the finest casts of feature players ever on television, according to most critics/historians. But by 1978, Bob felt it was time to move on to other projects.

By now, his skyrocketing popularity carried him into motion pictures, where hw was cast in a number of films with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood: "Hell Is For Heroes " with Steve McQueen; "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" with Barbara Streisand; "Catch 22" with Jon Voight; "Little Miss Marker" with Walter Matthau; "Hot Millions" with Peter Ustinov; "Cold Turkey" with Dick Van Dyke; "Thursday's Game" with Gene Wilder and "First Family" with Gilda Radner.

But he never gave up live, standup performances, his first love as well as his first show business profession. He didn't have much time with the rigors of a weekly series and film roles during the hiatus months, though he continued his comedy work whenever he could work it into a demanding schedule. When he took the first series off the air, it seemed a good time to tour again, which he did for nearly four years, before television got him back into a new series with a new format.

In 1982, he returned to CBS with "Newhart," playing a New York, do-it-yourself book author turned Vermont innkeeper. Again surrounded by an exceptional ensemble of quirky characters (yet another trademark of Bob Newhart's television career), the series went on to enormous success for eight seasons, ending against the wishes of the network, but only because Bob felt it was better to put the show to rest while it was at its peak.

Television fans remember the final episode of "Newhart," in which he "awoke" in his old bedroom from "The Bob Newhart Show," with his wife "Suzanne Pleshette, next to him, when he proclaimed he had the strangest dream! Critics and fans alike have called this the single best and most surprising episode in television comedy history, including the Entertainment Weekly Magazine, which put it at the top of its "Best All-Time Episodes" list.

Bob and his wife, Virginia, live in Bel Air, California. They have four children, Rob, Tim, Jennifer, and Courtney. An avid golfer, he spends as much time as he can on the links. He has managed to make time for his family, his sports pastime and his professional work by limiting his concert dates, doing an occasional film and then returning home to resume his personal life.

For more on Bob Newhart, visit his official Web site at www.bobnewhart.com.

 
 
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