Bob Newhart is one of those legendary comedians and actors who is instantly recognizable for his appearance, voice, and signature style. He’s well known for his deadpan style of comedy, as well as his iconic stutter that adds a whole lot of humor to his routines. He began his career in 1958, and has been gracing the screen and the stage ever since. With a career that’s over six decades long, it’s surprising that the 91 year old actor doesn’t seem to be ready to stop anytime soon! Still, longtime fans are always grateful to see that Bob Newhart hasn’t lost his edge after all this time.
With such a long and rich career, however, it’s fascinating to learn that Bob Newhart actually took quite a long time to discover what he truly wanted to do. He dabbled in all sorts of hobbies and careers, and it wasn’t until he was nearly 30 years old that he actually began his career as a comedian. This humbling life story serves as a great reminder that you can truly be anything you want to be; life doesn’t end in your twenties! While Bob Newhart could have easily settled down at a boring desk job, he pursued dreams of the stage because he knew it would make him feel the most fulfilled.
It took guts for Bob Newhart to completely change his goals so late in life, but he was greatly rewarded. Today, people all over the country can instantly recognize that deadpan voice and signature stammer. Bob Newhart has such a unique stage presence that he’s guest hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson a total of 87 times, and his many guest star appearances across various television shows keep him well in the public eye.
Throughout his career, Bob Newhart has released nearly eleven comedy albums, starred in several of his own sit-coms, and appeared in countless films and other television shows. Having perfected his signature style, directors and producers are frequently asking him to appear in their work. After all, nobody can truly compare to Bob Newhart’s style.
Throughout his life, Bob Newhart has spent a long time crafting his memorable persona. He’s changed so much since the beginning of his life, and in today’s video, we’re going to take a look at the journey of his career. We’re also going to reveal one of the biggest changes he ever made to himself. Make sure you stick around, because we’re going to explain why he changed his own name!
He Didn’t Know He Was Going to Be an Actor
Many celebrities today knew they were destined for greatness at a young age. Parents recall their children playing dress-up, singing into fake microphones, and acting out plays that later went on to become fashionistas, singers, and actors. Bob Newhart did not have this same experience, however. He was born into humble origins. His father, George David Newhart, was the part-owner of a plumbing and heating-supply business. Meanwhile, his mother, Julia Pauline, was a housewife. His family did not have any ties to fame or fortune, making it all the more surprising that Bob Newhart would eventually become so famous.
Why He Changed His Name Before He Got Famous
Bob Newhart was actually born with the name George Robert Newhart. A lot of stars end up changing their names so they look and sound better, making them feel more like real stars. For Bob Newhart, however, his name change had nothing to do with dreams of fame.
While he was growing up in the 1940s, the phrase “Let George do it” was frequently used as an idiom to describe passing responsibility on to another person. The phrase was so popular that young Newhart grew tired of people using the phrase as a joke around him. Finally, he changed his name to Bob, after his middle name, Robert, and the new name stuck ever since.
He Worked as an Accountant
After graduating from Loyola University of Chicago in 1952, Bob Newhart was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as a personnel manager in the Korean War. He only served for two years, however, and was then discharged in 1954. He attempted to get a law degree at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, but was encouraged to behave immorally while attending an internship. As a result, he settled to work as an accountant for United States Gypsum.
Bob Newhart eventually found that he was a little too carefree to work as an accountant, however. He often used the motto “that’s close enough” while working, which proved he didn’t quite have the right temperament for such a precise career. He quit his job as an accountant, and then realized he’d have to pave a new way in life.
He Became a Copywriter
After quitting his job as an accountant, Newhart landed a job as an advertising copywriter. He worked for a producer named Fred A. Niles, who produced for independent films and television shows. Here, Bob Newhart first became acquainted with the film and television industry, and he liked what he saw.
He slowly befriended a co-worker and engaged in a lot of witty banter. They’d frequently call each other on the phone and make up hilarious skits and scenarios. Newhart realized he had a talent, so he and his friend began recording the phone calls. They sent these recordings to various radio stations, and suddenly Bob Newhart’s career as a comedian began to bloom.
He Finally Found Work as a Comedian
After 30 years, Bob Newhart finally discovered his path in life. Even after his co-worker took a job alone in New York, Newhart began recording his own work, developing a comedy routine. He impressed a disc jockey named Dan Sorkin, who introduced Newhart to Warner Bros. Records. They were astounded by Newhart’s hilarious recordings, and immediately signed a contract with him in 1959. From there, Newhart developed a solid stand-up routine and performed his material at various nightclubs.
Later on, Newhart would publish several comedy albums, which were met with incredible success. Make sure you stick around until the very end, where we’ll reveal how one of his albums was so popular, it even bested Elvis Presley!
He Got the Idea for His Show While People-Watching
Bob Newhart starred in several of his own sit-coms. One of these, titled Newhart, was born while Newhart himself was people-watching in Seattle. He was staying at a Hilton hotel and was greatly amused by the antics of passers-by. He realized that he is most in his element when he is surrounded by a zany cast of characters. Before long, he was pitching the idea for a new television show, and thus Newhart was created. The show ran from 1982 to 1990, and followed a wife and husband who run an inn in Vermont.
His Role as Dr. Bob Hartley Inspired a Bronze Statue
Perhaps one of Bob Newhart’s most iconic roles is as Dr. Bob Hartley in his sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. In 2004, a bronze statue in his likeness was unveiled at Navy Pier in Chicago. It even includes a sofa for anyone who wants to pretend to be one of his patients! The statue remains on permanent display for any nostalgic fans.
He Only Won One Emmy
Even though Bob Newhart starred in three of his own sitcoms, The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, and Bob, he’s only ever won a single Primetime Emmy. Even more shocking is the fact that this Emmy did not come from any of those three sitcoms. Bob Newhart won the Primetime Emmy Award for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2013 after guest-starring in the incredibly popular show The Big Bang Theory. He would also be nominated for two more Primetime Emmy Awards the following two years for the same role, although he unfortunately did not win them.
He’s Best Friends with Don Rickles
Bob Newhart has explained that, despite his comedic nature, he actually has quite a bit of difficulty when it comes to making friends. Thankfully, his best friend is someone who can understand him on a deep level. Bob Newhart is best friends with Don Rickles, another comedic legend known for his insult comedy, as well as for his roles in films like Kelly’s Heroes and Casino. Sadly, Don Rickles died on April 6th, 2017, but Bob Newhart still recalls his deep bond with the man.
His Comedy Album Beat The King
Bob Newhart has released eleven different comedy albums throughout his career, and won a total of three Grammys as a result. His very first released comedy album was in 1960, entitled The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. This album alone earned two of his three Grammys, and was so popular that it topped the Billboard charts, even beating the King of rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley! The following year, the album would also win the 1961 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Bob Newhart has gone through a lot of changes throughout his life. Were you more surprised to learn about him changing his name, or about how his comedy album beat even Elvis Presley in popularity? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!