Monday, May 7, 2012

Further reading: The four main Newhart books

For the serious Newhart fan, there are four main resources -- in book form, at least -- for learning about the comedian's career:

BOB NEWHART by David Paige (1977)
From the "Stars of Stage and Screen" series, likely aimed at children and school libraries, this book at least features plenty of nice, full-page b&w photos. Written after Newhart had become a household name thanks to THE BOB NEWHART SHOW.

BOB NEWHART by Jeff Sorensen (1988)
The first serious attempt to pen a Newhart biography, this was written after the star had had a second sitcom success with NEWHART. The book seems to have been written under slightly rushed circumstances (although better than the quickie paperbacks that cash in on some young hottie's sudden fame), as Sorensen includes surprising lack of information about the Las Vegas period that fell between Bob's two hit television shows.

HI BOB! by Joey Green (1996)
A light pop-culture book (replete with little sidebars and quizzes), this features exclusive interviews with just about everyone except Bob himself (and he's represented by quotes from previous interviews in ROLLING STONE and other publications). But again, the gang's all there: Suzie Pleshette, Bill Daly, Marcia Wallace, Peter Bonerz, Jack Riley, Howard Hesseman, Lorenzo Music and the actors playing all Bob's semi-regular patients.

I SHOULDN'T EVEN BE DOING THIS! by Bob Newhart (2006)
This bounces around a lot and can't be considered a comprehensive memoir; it is meant as a collection of anecdotes that have struck its author as funny (it derives its title from a joke that has always cracked Bob up). Nonetheless, there is some info here that won't be found anywhere else -- like Bob's first TV job, for a local Chicago program (I've tried looking up more info on such but have come up utterly empty).

--Mike Malloy

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