Happy Birthday to Bob Newhart, who turns 90 years old today. Born in Oak Park, Illinois, the stand-up comedian and actor is noted for his deadpan and slightly stammering delivery, and for creating the first blockbuster comedy hit. In 1960, his album of comedic monologues, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, became a worldwide sensation. It reached number one on the Billboard pop album chart (the first comedy LP to do so) and won the Grammy for Album of the Year (the first comedy record to win that). His follow-up album, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back was also a success, and the two albums held the Billboard No.1 and No.2 spots simultaneously.
Newhart later went into acting, starring as a psychologist in The Bob Newhart Show and then as a Vermont innkeeper on the 1980s series Newhart. Young people might know him for his film role as Papa Elf in the holiday movie Elf. Over the past decade, he has remained in the public eye thanks to a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory.
Still doing standup and still married to his wife Ginnie for 56 years, he will be honored in November by the Paley Center in Los Angeles. About retirement he said, “I fell in love with the sound of laughter… and as long as I am physically able to do it, why stop?” WATCH him on the David Letterman show… (1929)
Many of his comedy routines involved hearing one one-half of a telephone conversation as he speaks to someone over the phone. In a bit called “King Kong”, a rookie security guard at the Empire State Building seeks guidance as to how to deal with an ape that is “between 18 and 19 stories high, depending on whether there’s a 13th floor or not.” Similarly, he did a telephone bit about Abe Lincoln talking to his press agent about improving his image for the election, and an uneasy police chief trying to talk a new nervous patrolman through defusing a live shell discovered on a beach…
In 2006, Newhart authored a book, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This, which is part memoir, part standup.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The first United States Labor Day parade was held in New York City (1882)
- The Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War, was signed in New Hampshire (1905)
- Baseball legend Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run knocking in three runs; as the pitcher, he also threw a one-hitter that day for his Providence club that beat Toronto 9-0 (1914)
- Janis Joplin began recording the song Me and Bobby McGee, written by lover and friend Kris Kristofferson, which topped the US singles chart after her 1971 death (1970)
- Jimmy Carter opened 12 days of secret negotiations at Camp David between the two leaders Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat that would soon lead to the signing of the first peace accord between Israel and any of its Arab neighbors (1978)
- The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989, the current international treaty defending indigenous peoples, came into force (1991)
- Denmark celebrated the first national Flag Day, in memory of the fallen Danes in international operations since 1948 (2009)
- The United Nations declared today as International Charity Day, an annual celebration honoring the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and all the work that charities do worldwide (2012)
Known for his remarkable four-octave vocal range, he wrote many of Queen’s classic songs, including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Somebody to Love’, and ‘We Are The Champions’. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, he grew up in India and learned to play piano at age seven. At 17, the family escaped racial violence and moved to England, where he joined Brian May and Roger Taylor and renamed their band Queen.
Other Notable Birthdays: Michael Keaton (68)
And on this day in 1957, “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac was first published. Based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the U.S., it was the defining novel of the Beat Generation–a term the author himself coined.
Reflecting the background of improvisational jazz, poetry, and drug use, Kerouac called the writing style “Spontaneous Prose.” Often named one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century, it featured key figures in the counter-culture movement, like William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady, with Kerouac as the narrator—all with fictionalized names. The way the text was produced as a nonstop scroll was also unique… Typed out on tracing paper and taped together into a continuous scroll during April 1951, the 120-feet of text, with no paragraph breaks, has appeared on display in museums worldwide, including one in Lowell, Massachusetts, the city where Kerouac was born. The book was also made into a 2012 film, entitled On the Road.