Tube Talk: About time: Bob Newhart wins first Emmy

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

It didn’t seem like much of a surprise to learn that the legendary Bob Newhart was nominated for an Emmy this year for his guest-starring role on an episode of The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon and Leonard’s childhood hero, Professor Proton. The big surprise was realizing that after 50-plus years on the small screen, Newhart had never won an Emmy Award.

Until this past weekend, that is.

No, you didn’t miss the big Emmy broadcast. Newhart received his award during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards (which honor primarily the behind-the-scene professionals), where the awards for guest actors and actresses are traditionally presented. The Primetime Emmy Awards, which will again be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, airs this Sunday, Sept. 22, on CBS, starting at 7 p.m. Central.

It seems astounding to think that after a pair of long-running hit series like The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, a comedic genius and TV icon like Newhart wouldn’t already have had at least a couple Emmys on his mantel.

His first nomination came in 1962, as a writer of The Bob Newhart Show (not to be confused with his classic 1972-1978 sitcom of the same name for which he received no individual nominations). He had three consecutive Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nominations for Newhart (1985, 1986 and 1987), but never won. In 2004, he was nominated for a dramatic guest role on ER; and in 2009, he was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role in TNT’s The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice.

This year, just days after his 84th birthday, Bob Newhart finally received some long-due recognition for his television work.

Before his episode of The Big Bang Theory even aired, critics were already predicting an Emmy for Newhart, saying he schooled the show’s already talented cast in the art of comedic timing.

Even better than Newhart’s win? He told reporters he expects to return to The Big Bang Theory. Soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, if you get the new FXX channel (555 on Comcast), you can see Newhart’s acceptance speech when they broadcast the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday, the night before the main awards.

It was about time, Bob. Congratulations.

Programming notes

Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Saturday, Sept. 21, on FXX at 8 p.m. Central (encore broadcast at 11 p.m.).

Primetime Emmy Awards, Sunday, Sept. 22, on CBS at 7 p.m. Central.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the Sept. 18-24, 2013, issue

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