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Bob Newhart

Biography

Bob Newhart has a knack for being funny by not seeming to be funny; his deadpan, quiet, and ultra calm reactions to the world around him can be more amusing than wild comedy. Millions know him from his self-titled 1970s and ‘80s TV shows but he came to fame as a completely unique stand-up comedian completely different from the loud "bowtie and seltzer water" yucksters of his era. Newhart channeled the externally placid, internally alarmed psyche of the Eisenhower-era's Man In The Grey Flannel Suit and took comedy to new places. One of the reasons Newhart did this so well was that he bore more than a passing resemblance to his creation. A Chicago accountant, Newhart developed his comedy as a way of relieving the grinding boredom of his job. He must've really worked hard to avoid crunching numbers because his in-office act was so good that a friend got him a professional gig before he even had decided whether he wanted to enter show business. Newhart's career took off almost instantly and his 1960 debut album, the brilliantly-titled The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart became the first comedy album to hit No. 1 on the pop charts, a fate shared by many of his subsequent releases. One of the album's most famous bits, "Driving Instructor," illustrates Newhart's special comedic sensibility. On this track, you don't hear the hell that a driving student is putting her teacher through; you only hear only Newhart's calm, hyper-verbal reactions to an increasingly dangerous situation. Newhart's unhurried, unflappable style was tailor made for film work and he became a successful character actor, but it was in television that he really left his mark as an actor. While his long-running '80s series was a worthy endeavor, his '70s series, The Bob Newhart Show (in which Newhart plays an eternally alarmed psychiatrist), is one of the funniest sitcom ever made. Both series were still enjoying high ratings after nearly decade long runs when Bob Newhart decided to end them while still on top. A class act, Newhart is good friends with Don Rickles, his sweating, screaming comedic polar opposite.

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