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Bob Newhart

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Biography

Early life

He was born George Robert Newhart in Oak Park, Illinois to George David Newhart and Julia Pauline Burns, both of whom were devout Catholics. A sister, M. Joan Newhart, is a Roman Catholic nun. Newhart is of Irish and German descent.

Newhart attended St. Ignatius College Prep and graduated in 1952 from Loyola University Chicago with a business degree. He was drafted in the U.S. Army, and served stateside during the Korean War until discharged in 1954.

Early career

After the war he got a job as an accountant for United States Gypsum. He later claimed that his motto, “That’s close enough”, shows he didn’t have the temperament to be an accountant. He also claimed to have been a clerk in the unemployment office who made $60 a week but who quit upon learning weekly unemployment benefits were $55 a week and “they only had to come in to the office one day a week to collect it”. In 1958 he became an advertising copywriter for Fred A. Niles, a major independent film and television producer in Chicago. It was at the company that he and a coworker would entertain each other in long telephone calls which they would record then send to a radio station as audition tapes. When his coworker ended his participation, Newhart continued the recordings alone, developing the shtick which was to serve him well for decades. In addition to his various standup bits, he incorporated that shtick into his television series at appropriate times.

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