The Last Sane Man on Earth
— Bob Newhart speaking in an interview on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition in May 2014.
A June 1977 publicity photo of the cast of The Bob Newhart Show. Standing, from left: Bill Daily (Howard Borden), Marcia Wallace (Carol Kester), Peter Bonerz (Jerry Robinson). Seated, from left: Bob Newhart (Bob Hartley), Suzanne Pleshette (Emily Hartley).
Bob Newhart portrayed Major Major Major Major in the 1970 film Catch-22, adapted by Buck Henry from Joseph Heller’s novel, and directed by Mike Nichols. Norman Fell portrayed Major Major’s orderly, Sergeant Towser.
Bob Newhart has made a career of understatement and staying sane while quirky characters and peculiar events swirl around him, and his style allows his audience to come along with him rather than merely spectate. His straight man “Charlie Everybody” reactions heighten the comedy by letting absurdity seep in and speak for itself, and that requires a delicate sense of timing and a feeling for the oddity in everyday life, a talent he has that is neither as easy to come by nor as simple to share as he makes it seem. Hi, Bob, and happy birthday! Thanks for helping us laugh, and feel good, too, remembering the first is a passing reaction to an event or situation, while the second lingers with us long after the laughter fades.
Bob Newhart remembers his best friend, Don Rickles, in this August 2017 interview with Conan O’Brien. Don Rickles died in April 2017, and the two had been friends since their days as entertainers in Las Vegas in the 1960s. Seated on the couch with Mr. Newhart is Peter Bonerz, one of his co-stars from The Bob Newhart Show and, earlier, from Catch-22. Warning: foul language.