If Jerry Seinfeld and Conan O’Brien are among your favorite comedians today, or if you count Modern Family and The Office among the funniest TV shows of our generation, you have Bob Newhart to thank. The influential stand-up comic and actor made a name for himself playing the ultimate “straight man.” He never relied on gimmicks or a wacky schtick; instead, he delivered laughs by making sharp observations about everyday life. His timeless approach has worked on stage as well as in film and television.
This September, Newhart will celebrate his 92nd birthday. This year also marks six decades since he received his first Grammy Award for his first comedy album. What’s more incredible than these milestones is the fact that he’s still hard at work today! Take a look back at his career, find out what he’s done in recent years, and learn what Bob Newhart’s net worth is after over half a century of working in show biz.
Bob Newhart Has A Storied Comedy Career
Newhart, a former ad copywriter from Chicago, made history in 1960 when his live album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, became the first comedy album to score the number one spot on the Billboard Mono Action Albums chart (known today as the Billboard 200). It stayed on the chart for two years, earning the comedian two Grammy Awards in 1961 for Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
He continued releasing his stand-up routines on vinyl while making a successful foray into television. Throughout the 1960s, Newhart hosted his own short-lived (but highly-regarded) variety show and made multiple appearances on The Dean Martin Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. He also served as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show, filling in for the legendary Johnny Carson.
But perhaps his biggest achievement was his CBS sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. The series, which ran for six seasons between 1972 and 1978, followed the everyday professional and personal life of Bob Hartley, a Chicago psychologist. It earned multiple Emmy nominations and secured Newhart two Golden Globe nominations in 1975 and 1976 for Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical.
“I just didn’t want the show to be where dad’s a dolt that everyone loves, who gets himself into a pickle and then the wife and kids huddle together to get him out of it,” Newhart told the Hollywood Reporter in 2018.
“I’m very proud of the show, the cast and the writing,” he continued. “Look at how long it’s lasted and how long people have enjoyed it. I run into people more and more who come up to me and say, ‘We used to sit as a family and watch your show.’ They look upon it as a wonderful time in their life. It’s very real to them and an important part of their life.”
His sitcom career didn’t end there. From 1982 to 1990, he starred as Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon on Newhart; he followed that with two seasons of the CBS sitcom Bob. His final sitcom was George and Leo, co-starring Judd Hirsch, but it only ran for one season and marked the end of his wildly successful, decades-long run at CBS.
But Newhart continued to work after his sitcom heyday. Younger audiences will know him as Buddy’s adoptive dad Papa Elf in the 2003 holiday classic Elf.
He also guest-starred as Arthur Jeffries (a.k.a Professor Proton) in multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory (earning him his first Emmy in 2013). He reprised the character in the show’s spin-off, Young Sheldon.
What Is Bob Newhart’s Net Worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Newhart has an estimated net worth of $65 million.
Little is known about how the comedian’s fortune specifically breaks down, but the Chicago Tribune noted that the syndication of The Bob Newhart Show was a “windfall” for the star.
Newhart added that this was one of the very reasons he steered clear of topical humor.
“If we’re doing Gerald Ford jokes about him being clumsy, we’re going to look pretty silly when the show’s in syndication,” said the actor.
But Newhart admitted that his sudden success came as a surprise and that he initially struggled to stay grounded.
“Who knew six months after my discharge [from the Korean War] I’d have this record album?” he said to Billboard in 2018. “I’d go by these stores, a Maserati store or an expensive car store, and I’d look in the window and go, ‘I could buy that.’ And go by another window: ‘I could buy that.’ I didn’t buy it, but…”
Today, he’s more concerned with his legacy than his bottom line. As he told the Hollywood Reporter, “It’s nice to be remembered that you made people laugh.”