In 2013, TV legend Bob Newhart finally won an Emmy Award for his guest-starring role as Arthur Jeffries, aka Professor Proton, on “The Big Bang Theory” — after eight nominations dating back to 1962.
“They were selling a bunch of computer nerds [to viewers]. It shouldn’t work, but it struck a chord with the audience,” says Newhart, 89, who won for the Season 6 episode “The Proton Resurgence.” “I like the quality of the writing and it’s an incredible cast. It has to be done in front of a live audience; that’s the only way I’ve ever done a TV show.”
Newhart appeared six times as Sheldon’s (Jim Parson) childhood hero. “[Series creator] Chuck Lorre and I had talked about working together on various projects … but we couldn’t come up with anything,” he says. “One day he came to me and said, ‘OK, I’m here for my annual turndown.’ I said, ‘You know what, Chuck? I really like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — I like the quality of the writing.’
“The first thing I look at is the writing, of course. You can have the greatest cast in the world but if you don’t have a good script, you’re dead.”
Newhart, who doesn’t appear in the series finale, did attend the “Big Bang Theory” wrap party. “There’s a lot of pressure on that final show,” he says — alluding to the classic sequence ending his CBS sitcom “Newhart” (which featured Suzanne Pleshette, his wife on “The Bob Newhart Show”).
“The last time I did [‘The Big Bang Theory’] I knew they were working on the final show,” he says. “I said to Chuck, ‘You know, I had a lot of luck where my wife from my first show showed up in the finale. You might want to think about that.’ “