The Bob Newhart Show

The Bob Newhart Show is an American sitcom television series produced by MTM Enterprises that aired on CBS from September 16, 1972, to April 1, 1978, with a total of 142 half-hour episodes over six seasons. Comedian Bob Newhart portrays a psychologist whose interactions with his wife, friends, patients, and colleagues lead to humorous situations and dialogue. The show was filmed before a live audience.

The Bob Newhart Show
The Bob Newhart Show.jpg
Created by
Theme music composer
  • Lorenzo Music
  • Henrietta Music
Opening theme"Home to Emily"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes142 (list of episodes)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companyMTM Enterprises
Distributor20th Television
Original networkCBS
Picture format4:3
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 16, 1972 (1972-09-16) –
April 1, 1978 (1978-04-01)
Followed byNewhart

The credits notably feature the Cooper Black typeface, after it was made famous in 1966 by the use in the artwork for the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album.[1]


Standing, from left: Howard Borden, Carol Kester, Jerry Robinson; seated: Bob and Emily Hartley

The show centers on Robert "Bob" Hartley, Ph.D. (Newhart), a Chicago psychologist. Most activity occurs between his work and home life, with his supportive, although occasionally sarcastic, wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and their friendly but pesty neighbor, airline navigator Howard Borden (Bill Daily). The medical building where Bob's psychology practice is located also houses Jerry Robinson, D.D.S. (Peter Bonerz), an orthodontist whose office is on the same floor, and their receptionist, Carol Kester (Marcia Wallace), as well as a number of other somewhat eccentric doctors who appear occasionally.

Bob's three most frequently seen regular patients are the cynical, mean-spirited and neurotic Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley), the milquetoast Marine veteran cook, Emile Peterson (John Fiedler), and quiet, reserved Lillian Bakerman (Florida Friebus), an older woman who spends most of her sessions knitting. Carlin was ranked 49th in TV Guide's List of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time, and Riley reprised the character in guest appearances on both St. Elsewhere and Newhart.

Most of the situations involve Newhart's character playing straight man to his wife, colleagues, friends, and patients. A frequent running gag on the show is an extension of Newhart's stand-up comedy routines, where he played one side of a telephone conversation, the other side of which is not heard. In a nod to this, for the first two seasons, the episodes opened with Bob answering the telephone by saying "Hello?". Emily routinely acts as straight woman to slow-witted Howard, and on occasion to Bob.


Emily listens to Howard in the Hartleys' apartment.
Bob (right) congratulates Carol and Larry Bondurant on their marriage.


  • Bob Newhart as Dr. Robert Hartley, psychologist
  • Suzanne Pleshette as Emily (née Harrison) Hartley, his wife, a school teacher and later, assistant principal
  • Peter Bonerz as Dr. Jerry Robinson, Bob's friend, an orthodontist
  • Bill Daily as Howard Borden, Bob and Emily's next-door neighbor and friend, an airline navigator and later co-pilot
  • Marcia Wallace as Carol Kester, Bob and Jerry's receptionist

Bob's patientsEdit

Bob and Emily's relativesEdit

  • Pat Finley as Ellen Hartley, Bob's sister (introduced near the end of season 2, and featured in nearly half of the episodes in season 3, the character was eventually dropped midway through season 4)
  • Martha Scott as Martha Hartley, Bob and Ellen's mother
  • Barnard Hughes as Herb Hartley, Bob and Ellen's father
  • John Randolph as Cornelius "Junior" Harrison Jr., Emily's father
  • Ann Rutherford as Aggie Harrison, Emily's mother

Neighbors, friends and othersEdit

  • Patricia Smith as Margaret Hoover, Emily's friend
  • Tom Poston as Cliff "The Peeper" Murdock, Bob's college friend from Vermont
  • Moosie Drier as Howie Borden, Howard's son
  • Will Mackenzie as Larry Bondurant, Carol's boyfriend and later husband
  • Richard Schaal as Don Livingston (later Don Fesler), boyfriend/short-lived fiancé of Carol's; in the 1st season played Chuck Brock, husband of Nancy, who had previously been briefly engaged to Bob
  • Mariette Hartley as Marilyn Dietz, downstairs neighbor and friend of Emily's
  • Gail Strickland as Courtney Simpson, a girlfriend of Jerry's
  • Raul Julia as Dr. Greg Robinson, Jerry's brother
  • Heather Menzies as Debbie Borden, Howard's younger sister
  • William Redfield as Howard's brother, Gordon Borden, the game warden; the actor also appeared in the pilot episode as Margaret's husband Arthur Hoover

Rimpau Medical Arts CenterEdit

  • Larry Gelman as Dr. Bernie Tupperman, urologist
  • Howard Platt as Dr. Phil Newman, cosmetic surgeon
  • Shirley O'Hara as Debbie Flett, older, scatterbrained temp receptionist who constantly calls Bob "Dr. Ryan"
  • Gene Blakely as Dr. Ralph Tetzi, Ear/Nose/Throat specialist
  • Julie Payne as Dr. Sharon Rudell, who prefers "scream therapy" as a therapeutic device whenever she feels stressed
  • Tom Lacy as Dr. Stan Whelan
  • Paula Shaw as Dr. Tammy Ziegler
  • Ellen Weston as Dr. Sarah Harris
  • Kristina Holland as Gail Bronson, Carol's vacation replacement
  • Phillip R. Allen as Dr. Frank Walburn, another psychologist
  • Teri Garr as Miss Brennan, Dr. Walburn's receptionist


The Thorndale Beach North condominiums, at 5901 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago's Edgewater community, were used for exterior establishing shots of the Hartleys' apartment building.

The first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show aired on Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. During the winter of the 1976–77 season, the program moved to 8:30 p.m. EST. For its final season during 1977–78, the program moved to 8:00 p.m. EST.

The program typically aired following The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was also produced by MTM Enterprises.[2]

Awards and honorsEdit

In 1977, the show received two Emmy nominations – for "Outstanding Comedy Series" and for Pleshette for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Comedy Series".[3] Newhart, himself, was nominated twice for a Golden Globe Award as "Best TV Actor—Musical/Comedy" in 1975 and 1976.[3] In 1997, the episodes "Over the River and Through the Woods" and "Death Be My Destiny" were respectively ranked No. 9 and No. 50 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[4] TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time listed it as No. 44.[5] In 2007, Time placed the show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".[6] Bravo ranked Bob Hartley 84th on its list of the 100 greatest TV characters.[7]

In 2004, TV Land commemorated the show with a statue of Newhart in character as Dr. Hartley, seated and facing an empty couch, as if conducting a therapy session in his office. The statue was temporarily installed in front of 430 North Michigan Avenue, the building used for exterior establishing shots of Hartley's office. The statue is now permanently located in the sculpture park adjacent to Chicago's Navy Pier entertainment complex.[8] In 2005, the TV Land Awards honored The Bob Newhart Show with its Icon Award, presented by Ray Romano.

In 2013, TV Guide ranked the series No. 49 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[9]

Final episodeEdit

In the show's final episode, "Happy Trails to You," Bob gives up his psychology practice and accepts a teaching position at a small college in Oregon, with the Hartleys leaving Chicago, as well as their friends and neighbors, and Bob's patients, behind them. The closing scene, in which the cast exchange tearful goodbyes and embrace before bursting into an impromptu refrain of "Oklahoma," is a wry nod to The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale (also produced by MTM) from the previous year.

Later appearances by series charactersEdit

St. Elsewhere (1985)

Jack Riley reprised his Elliot Carlin role on a 1985 episode of St. Elsewhere and partnered with Oliver Clark as the amnesiac John Doe Number Six. Carlin and Doe have been committed to the hospital's mental ward, where Carlin treats Doe with the same verbal abuse he directed toward Clark's "Mr. Herd" on The Bob Newhart Show. Carlin blames his insanity on an unnamed "quack in Chicago." While Oliver Clark's recurring portrayal of John Doe Number Six is essentially identical to Mr. Herd, the two are never stated to be the same individual. In a nod to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, John Doe Number Six addresses a character played by Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, which Betty White's character denies.

ALF (1987)

In the 1987 ALF episode entitled "Going Out of My Head Over You", Willie visits a psychologist, Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Dykstra, portrayed by Bill Daily. Jack Riley is in the waiting room, apparently portraying Elliot Carlin. Also in this episode, ALF mentions learning about psychology by watching episodes of The Bob Newhart Show.

Newhart (1988 and 1990)

Riley appears in a 1988 episode of Newhart, playing an unnamed character who acts very much like Mr. Carlin. This character is being treated by the same therapist in Vermont whom Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) visits for marriage counseling. Dick feels he recognizes Riley's character, but cannot place his face; whereupon the unnamed patient insults him. Echoing Carlin's statement from the 1985 St. Elsewhere, the therapist apologizes for her patient, explaining that it has taken her "years to undo the damage caused by some quack in Chicago."

Tom Poston, who played Cliff "The Peeper" Murdock, Bob's college friend from Vermont, played "George" the resident handyman from Vermont, throughout the Newhart series. Poston and Suzanne Pleshette married in 2001, with the marriage lasting until Poston's death in 2007. Pleshette died the following year.

Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette reprised their roles from the show for the 1990 finale of Newhart, in which it was revealed that the entire Newhart series had just been Bob Hartley's dream. Bob and Emily awake in a room identical in appearance to their Chicago bedroom from The Bob Newhart Show.

This plot device had previously been used in the season five finale ("You're Having My Hartley") in which Emily is pregnant. At the end, the pregnancy is revealed to have been a dream.

The Bob Newhart Show: The 19th Anniversary Special (1991)

The entire cast assembled for the one-hour clip show The Bob Newhart Show: The 19th Anniversary Special in 1991, which finds the show's characters in the present day. This show is set in Chicago, in the same apartment and office that Bob Hartley had in his 1970s show. During the course of the show, the characters analyzed Bob's dream from the Newhart finale. At one point Howard recalled, "I had a dream like that once. I dreamed I was an astronaut in Florida for five years," as scenes from I Dream of Jeannie featuring Bill Daily as Roger Healey were shown.

Murphy Brown (1994)

Newhart played Bob Hartley on Murphy Brown, in the episode "Anything But Cured" (March 14, 1994) to beg Carol (Marcia Wallace reprising her role from The Bob Newhart Show) to leave her job as Murphy's secretary and come back with him to Chicago.

Saturday Night Live (1995)

Newhart reprised Hartley twice in the February 11, 1995, episode of Saturday Night Live. In one sketch, he appears on a satirical version of Ricki Lake, befuddled by Ms. Lake's dysfunctional guests and her armchair pop psychology. The episode ended with a repeat of Newhart’s "just a dream" scene, in which Bob Hartley again wakes up with Emily (Pleshette), and tells her that he just dreamed he had hosted SNL. Emily responds, "That show's not still on, is it?"

George & Leo (1997)

In the 1997 episode "The Cameo Episode", Bill Daily makes an appearance as "The Pilot". Jack Riley also appeared on this episode, but it's unclear whom he is portraying.

CBS at 75 (2002)

Newhart and Pleshette, as "The Hartleys", were the hosts of a segment of the CBS at 75 broadcast.

Home mediaEdit

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD in Region 1 in 2005/2006.

On February 3, 2014, Shout! Factory announced it had acquired the rights to the series. It subsequently released The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series on May 27, 2014.[10] The fifth and sixth seasons were later released on DVD in individual sets on February 3, 2015.[11]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 24 April 12, 2005
The Complete 2nd Season 24 October 4, 2005
The Complete 3rd Season 24 April 11, 2006
The Complete 4th Season 24 September 5, 2006
The Complete 5th Season 24 February 3, 2015
The Complete 6th Season 22 February 3, 2015
The Complete Series 142 May 27, 2014

See alsoEdit

  • Hi, Bob – a drinking game based on watching the show


  1. ^ Amanda Lewis Cooper Black: The Story Behind Louie's Typeface,, August 6, 2012
  2. ^ McEnroe, Colin (January 15, 2017). "Mary Tyler Moore Was Just 'One Of Us'". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b "The Bob Newhart Show". IMDb.
  4. ^ "TV Guide's list of top 100 episodes". Associated Press. June 28, 1997. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  5. ^ Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (April 26, 2002). "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  6. ^ "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time. September 6, 2007. Archived from the original on September 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  7. ^ "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  8. ^ Chicago dedicates Bob Newhart statue, 27.7.2004, The Associated Press
  9. ^ "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time". TV Guide.
  10. ^ "The Bob Newhart Show DVD news: Box Art for The Bob Newhart Show – The Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22.
  11. ^ "The Bob Newhart Show DVD news: Announcement for Season 5 and The Final Season". TVShowsOnDVD. Archived from the original on 2014-11-06.

External linksEdit