A 20 Year Callback
The Bob Newhart Show ran from 1972 to 1978 and featured Bob Newhart as a Chicago psychiatrist named Robert Hartley.
Newhart, on the other hand, ran from 1982 to 1990 and featured Bob Newhart as an author named Dick Loudon who owned and operated The Stratford Inn Vermont.
In the final episode of Newhart, a Japanese firm buys up all the land in the town to build a golf course. After being knocked out by a stray golf ball, the scene cuts to a darkened bedroom: Bob Hartley’s bedroom from The Bob Newhart Show, where we learn that the entire Newhart series was all a dream.
Wayne Federman (Actor/Writer: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon): It was a superb gag that was 18 years in the making. Nothing else is even close in my book. (By the way, my “book” is currently out of print.)
Bob Newhart (Actor/Comedian, The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart): We were apprehensive. We didn’t know how it would be received because St. Elsewhere had been received negatively—people said, “We devoted all this time to this show and cared about these people and now you’re telling us it’s a dream?”
David Pressman: I had the honor of being on the last episode of Newhart, playing Mr. Rusnak, the town’s racist shoe salesman. To this day, that was the best job I’ve ever had. Anyway, I didn’t know the big reveal of it all being a dream until tape night. Don’t remember how they kept it a secret, but they did.
Bob Newhart: No one knew.
JJ Wall (Writer/Comedian): I did the warm-up for the Newhart finale. I was specifically positioned to keep the studio audience looking away from where the old bedroom set was. Their reaction, when they realized what was going on, was phenomenal. Never heard anything like it. Felt a little bad for Mary Frann (Bob’sT.V.wife on Newhart), as, no one had ever told her what was going on. A great moment to be a part of.
Bob Newhart: That scene never appeared in a script, because we knew the tabloids would get ahold of it. I told some of the cast that morning. Later on, when the crew came back from dinner I said, “We’ve added a scene. Camera ‘A’ goes here, camera ‘B’ goes here, ‘C’ goes there, and when we pull the floater which hides the set from the audience, just start your cameras and keep shooting, no matter what happens.”
Nell Scovell: My first sitcom job was on the last season of Newhart, so I was there and got to stand in The Bob Newhart Show bedroom set. I’d watched that show as a kid so it was a very strange feeling. Like I’d ventured through the looking glass.
TV GUIDE named it “The Most Unexpected Moment in TV History”—including sporting events.
Bob Newhart: We brought Suzie [Suzanne Pleshette, who played Bob’s wife in The Bob Newhart Show] in from two sound stages over and snuck her into the bed. When they pulled the floater away, the audience recognized the bedroom set and started applauding even before they saw Suzie or me. We were apprehensive, but when we got the audience reaction we said, “That’s it.”
—C.B.S. (via UrbanDaddy) (via C.B.S.)
More to come…