PERFORMERS: BOB NEWHART

Born: September 5 1929

bobnewhartby PETER TATCHELL (reprinted from LAUGH MAGAZINE #4, 1992)

U.S. television starred Bob Newhart’s in five network series in thirty years. His strike rate was two hits (The Bob Newhart Show CBS 1972/8 and Newhart CBS 1982/90) and three misses (The Bob Newhart Show NBC 1961/2, The Entertainers CBS 1964/5 and Bob in 1992). Viewers preferred watching him in sitcoms over variety shows, despite the fact that his initial successes were with a number of brilliant one-man sketches performed specifically for record release.

In the latter half of the 1950s, Chicago accountant Newhart was earning some extra money writing and performing comedy routines for radio. On hearing some examples of his work, Warner Bros. records decided he’d be ideal for the burgeoning market of humorous discs. Preferring the release to be performed in front of a live audience, they arranged a venue in Houston and unleashed the nervous Newhart on an unsuspecting public.

The debut LP The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart was an enormous success, and Newhart deserted the world of accountancy for a career in show business. In all, he recorded a further six albums in the 1960s before concentrating on his acting skills on television and (occasionally) in movies.

Then, in 1992, after three decades of weekly television, he recreated his classics for a new audience and this performance has found its way on to compact disc, video and dvd. Included are several bits never previously recorded along with some clever digs at political correctness in regard to the original material.

Bob Newhart may have achieved a quarter of a century of success with middle-America through his television roles, but there’s no denying the cleverness and longevity of the three or four dozen monologues he performed in his early years.

Most of the routines find him either addressing a group (of office workers, sailors, passengers on a plane) or having a conversation with another individual. It’s usually a meek little man caught up in some outlandish situation trying to solve the problem without causing any fuss. On several tracks he highlighted a famous historical figure being assessed by modern day standards.

His satires on cut-price airlines and the attitudes of bus drivers remain gems over forty years later as do his character studies of the submarine commander and driving instructor who find themselves in the midst of awkward and stressful situations.

For those who have only encountered the latter-day Newhart via television, an eavesdropping of his earlier material is highly recommended.

 

The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1379, WM 4O1O/WS 8010, CD 45690-2
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish
Merchandising the Wright Brothers
The Krushchev Landing Rehearsal
Driving Instructor
Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball

The Button Down Mind Strikes Back (1960)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1393, WM 4032, CD 1393-2
Automation and a Private In Washington’s Army
The Grace L. Ferguson Airline
Bus Driver’s School
Retirement Party
An Infinite Number Of Monkeys
Ledge Psychology

Behind The Button Down Mind (1961)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1417, WM 4055, CD 1417-2
Rocket Scientist
Tourist Meets Krushchev
The Uncle Freddie Show
T.V. Commercials
The Seven Lost Cities Of The Incas
Herb Philbrick The Counter Spy
The African Movie

The Button Down Mind On TV (1962)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1467, WM 8110/WS 8110
Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation
The Siamese Cat
Defusing
A Bomb
A Friend With A Dog
General Chariot Corp.
The Hold-Out Huns

Bob Newhart Faces Bob Newhart (1963)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1517, WM 8148, CD 2044-2
Reflections On T.V. Commercials
Amateur Show Contestants
Nudist Camp Exposé
The Expectant Father
On Poodles And Planes
The Man Who Looked Like Hitler

The Windmills Are Weakening (1965)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1588
Edison’s Most Famous Invention
King Kong
The Upset Stomach Commercial
Returning A Gift
Superman And The Drycleaner
Buying A House
Ben Franklin In Analysis

This Is It (1967)
Warner Bros. LP W(S) 1717
Prenatal Twins
Daddy Of All Hangovers
Topless Clubs
On Trains And Planes
Modem Witchdoctor
Pussy Cat

Bob Newhart Off The Record (1992)
Pickwick CD PWKS 4215
recorded at the Raymond Theater in Pasadena in 1992 …
Introduction
School for Bus Drivers
King Kong
The Driving Instructor
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish
Defusing the Bomb
The Nude Line-Up
Introducing Tobacco to Civilization
The Retirement Party

Button Down Concert (1997)
Sony/Nick at Nite CD BK 63399
longer edit of the performance recorded at the Raymond Theater in Pasadena in 1992 …
Greeting
Bob At The Unemployment Office
Bus Driver’s School
King Kong
Driving Instructor
The Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
The Cruise of The U.S.S. Codfish
The One-Eyed Bullfighter
Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball
The Nude Police Line-Up
Edison’s Most Famous Invention
Introducing Tobacco
Retirement Party

Buddy Lester’s Their Favorite Jokes (2001)
Laugh.com CD LGH 1099
features a contribution from Bob Newhart

The following releases contain tracks taken from the seven 1960s LPs

The Best Of Bob Newhart
Warner Bros. LP (W)S 1672
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
Introducing Tobacco To Civilization
Driving Instructor
King Kong
Cruise Of The U.S.S. Codfish
Retirement Party
Returning A Gift
The Grace L. Ferguson Airline

The Best Of Bob Newhart
British Warner Bros. LP W 1134, K 46001
Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation
Edison’s Most Famous Invention
Bus Driver’s School
The Krushchev Landing Rehearsal
Driving Instructor
Defusing A Bomb
An Infinite Number Of Monkeys
Nudist Camp Exposé

Bob Newhart Masters
British Warner Bros. LP K 36003,
reissued as Bob Newhart Pickwick LP SSP 3079,
and The Best Of Bob Newhart Pickwick compact disc PWKS 548
The Driving Instructor
Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation
The Grace L. Ferguson Airline
The Cruise Of The U.S.S. Codfish
The Retirement Party
Returning A Gift
Ledge Psychology

The Button Down Mind and The Button Down Mind Strikes Back were re-released as
The Button Down Mind Deluxe Edition.
Warner Bros. 2LP 2N(S) 1399,
as The Best Of The Button Down Mind
Murray Hill 2LP OP 2529 1379/1393
and as The Best Of The Button Down Mind
Warner Special Products CD OPCD 2529

Bob Newhart Faces Bob Newhart was also reissued as
Very Funny Bob Newhart
Harmony LP HS 11344

The following extended play releases also feature reissue material

Bob Newhart
British Warner Bros. WEP 6031
The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish
The Driving Instructor

The Button Down Mind Strikes Back
British Warner Bros. WEP 6042
Bus Driver’s School
Ledge Psychology

The Button Down Mind : Volume 2
British Warner Bros. WEP/WSE 6101
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball
Merchandising The Wright Brothers

The Button Down Mind Strikes Back
British Warner Bros. WEP/WSE 6116
Retirement Party
Automation And A Private In Washington’s Army
An Infinite Number Of Monkeys

The Button Down Mind On TV
British Warner Bros. WEP/WSE 6118
Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation
A Friend With A Dog

The Button Down Mind On TV – Volume 2
British Warner Bros. WEP/WSE 6130
General Chariot Corp.
The Hold-Out Huns

There were also several U.S. promotional singles …

Driving Instructor/Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball
Warner Bros. PRO 111-112

General Chariot Corp. Introducing Tobacco To Civilisation
Warner PRO 142

Nudist Camp Exposé/Filming A TV Commercial
Warner Bros. PRO 156

Superman And The Dry Cleaner/King Kong
Warner Bros. PRO 206

 

Videos and DVDs

The following releases are different edits of the same performance at the Raymond Theater, Pasadena in 1992

Off the Record
Pickwick Video PV 2184 (1992)
A Brief History
Bob at the Unemployment Office
School for Bus Drivers
King Kong
The Driving Instructor
Abe Lincoln Versus Madison Avenue
Cruise of the USS Codfish
Defusing a Bomb
The One-Eyed Bullfighter
Nude Line Up
Edison’s Real Invention
Introducing Tobacco to Civilization
The Retirement Party

Button Down Concert – Off the Record
20th Century Fox DVD (2006)
A Brief History
Bob at the Unemployment Office
School for Rude Bus Drivers
King Kong and the New Security Guard
The Nervous Driving Instructor
The Airplane Captain Speaks to his Passengers
Abe Lincoln’s P.R. Man
Cruise of the USS Codfish
The One-Eyed Bullfighter
Selling Baseball to the Board Game Company
Nude Police Line Up
Edison’s Real Invention
Sir Walter Raleigh Explains Tobacco
The Tipsy Accountant’s Retirement Party
plus a 20 minute documentary Bob Newhart: Unbuttoned

 

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