Hollywood Flashback: Bob Newhart Nabbed a Golden Globe for His First TV Show in 1962

Gerald Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Bob Newhart performed a monologue as a driving teacher on "Show No. 6" of NBC's 'The Bob Newhart Show' in 1961.

The actor-comedian won the trophy for 'The Bob Newhart Show,' which he walked away from after eight months to preserve the quality of his work: "The biggest mistake of my life was agreeing to do that show."

Bob Newhart — who got a big laugh at the Sept. 22 Emmys telecast when he appeared with Ben Stiller as a waxwork statue that came to life — was given his first acting award in 1962 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The comedian, now 90, took home the Golden Globe as best male TV star for The Bob Newhart Show.

Newhart says he still has the statuette "upstairs on my sparsely populated awards shelf. It's up there because my wife says it's ostentatious to display awards."

Airing on NBC Wednesdays at 10 p.m. just after Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall, the half-hour show centered on the comic's signature dry humor. The Hollywood Reporter's review said, "in a sketch or delivering a phone monologue, his strongest forte, Newhart is never out of his element."

But Newhart didn't enjoy doing the show. At the time, he was known for his monologues, in which he'd talk on the phone with imaginary people. (He'd won the album of the year Grammy for this in 1961.)

"The show was marginal in terms of ratings but we'd won a Peabody Award and NBC wanted to keep it," says Newhart. He felt that maintaining the quality of his monologues week after week would be difficult, so he walked away from the NBC deal after eight months. "The biggest mistake of my life was agreeing to do that show," says Newhart. "I really felt strongly about maintaining the quality of the monologues."

This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.