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Newhart ran from October 1982 until September 1990 on CBS.

Four years after the highly successful Bob Newhart Show ended its run, Bob Newhart returned to CBS with his relaxed style, gentle humor and immaculate comedy timing in a new series called, plainly, Newhart.

Dick Loudon ( Bob Newhart), a New York writer of "How To" books, decided to put his knowledge to practical use by renovating and reopening an authentic colonial inn in scenic Norwich, Vermont. Dick and his skeptical wife, Joanna( Mary Frann), arrived full of anticipation at their new home - the Stratford Inn - built in 1774. It had been shuttered for many years and needed a lot of work but as a history buff, Dick found the building and its past fascinating.

Helping run the inn was crusty and colorful George Utley( Tom Poston), whose family had been caretakers there for more than 200 years. Kirk( Steven Kampmann), who ran the Minuteman Cafe and Giftshop next door, was a guilt-ridden compulsive liar who was constantly apologizing for his little white fibs. After years of searching, he finally married in the spring of 1984, to Cindy( Rebecca York), a professional clown. Leslie ( Jennifer Holmes),was a pretentious and wealthy student at nearby Dartmouth College, who had taken the part-time job of maid to find out what it was like to be "average." She left to continue her education in England at the end of the first season and was replaced by her equally attractive cousin, Stephanie( Julia Duffy).

Also seen were three weird brothers who were possibly the world's most inept handymen - Larry, Darryl and Darryl ( William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, John Voldstad). Larry was the spokesman for the group since neither Darryl ever spoke at all.

In the fall of 1984, Dick became host of "Vermont Today," a talk show on local TV station WPIV. Now, in addition to running the inn, he had to cope with the guests on his TV show and its fast-talking young producer, Michael Harris( Peter Scolari). When Michael started dating Stephanie, Dick had the dubious pleasure of seeing him at the inn almost as much as at the station. Larry, Darryl and Darryl were around even more then before since they had taken over the Minuteman Cafe when Kirk left the area.

In this sea of eccentrics, Dick and Joanna were a small island of normalcy, a situation not radically different from that of Newhart and his wife ( played by Suzanne Pleshette) in his previous series.

Major changes occurred during the 1988-1989 season. Michael lost his job at the TV station and became a shoe clerk. After breaking up with Stephanie, he had a nervous breakdown, spent two weeks in a sanitarium, then took a job as a bagboy at Menkey's grocery store. In the last episode of the season, Michael & Stephanie decided they were meant for each other and ran off and got married.

The following fall, Michael and a very pregnant Stephanie returned from a six-month honeymoon cruise and took up residence at the Stratford Inn. Stephanie gave birth in January to baby Stephanie, and her wealthy parents bought WPIV and gave it to their granddaughter with Michael as its general manager.

The last original episode of Newhart aired in the spring of 1990. A Japanese businessman bought the entire town for $1,000,000 per house so he could convert it into a golf course, except for the Stratford Inn, which Dick refused to sell. Five years later, the inn had become a Japanese hotel on the 14th fairway of the Tagadachville Hotel and Country Club golf course. The townspeople returned for a visit and decided to move back. While they were arguing about the details, Dick went out the front door and was knocked unconscious by an errant golf ball - only to wake up in bed with Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) from The Bob Newhart Show and tell her about this strange dream he had about running an in in Vermont

A Review from The New York Times

Published: October 25, 1982

On CBS tonight, at 9:30, the new weekly series ''Newhart'' stars Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon, a history buff and writer of such ''howto'' classics as ''Building Your Own Patio Cover.'' Dick and his wife Joanna (Mary Frann) have just bought the Stratford Inn, built in 1774, in Vermont. The caretaker (Tom Poston) is a shrewdly seedy incompetent. The young neighbor (Steven Kampmann) is a self-confessed chronic liar. And the new maid (Jennifer Holmes) is a rich girl who wants to find out what it's like to be average. That's the basic stituation designed for longevity as a situation comedy.

It's thin, granted, but it probably doesn't matter. Mr. Newhart is at the top of his form, and that means comedy at its best. Without moving much, without shouting, Mr. Newhart can squeeze more out of an innocuous line than anybody else in the business. His is not a world of wisecracks. He is a master of timing and delivery. There is no nastiness or hip trendiness. He is simply very funny. Sit back and enjoy this welcome new entry in a very uneven season.

An Article from Time Magazine

The "Oh" Man and the Oddballs
Monday, Dec. 22, 1986


It may not be Grand Hotel, but life at Vermont's quaint old Stratford Inn is far from routine. For example, here comes the hotel's slow-witted handyman George Utley (Tom Poston) to unveil the latest product from his workshop: a wooden replica of Mount Rushmore featuring the face of Mr. Green Jeans. Stephanie Vanderkellen (Julia Duffy), the pampered Wasp princess who works at the inn as a maid, goes through the motions of dusting, but she is concentrating on putting her TV-producer boyfriend Michael (Peter Scolari) in his place, which is at her feet groveling. And just when a little order threatens to break out, in stomps a scraggly trio of backwoods brothers, two of whom never speak, leaving the third to make the group's ritual introduction, "I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl. And this is my other brother Darryl."

Among such oddballs, one might be excused for overlooking the unassuming fellow over there behind the desk who runs the Stratford Inn, a mild-mannered writer and part-time TV talk-show host named Dick Loudon. All the more so since Loudon is played by Bob Newhart, who has made a career out of trying to shrink into the scenery. As a stand-up comic in the early 1960s, Newhart created a series of dryly satirical routines in which he portrayed a well- meaning, slightly befuddled organization man trying to cope with extraordinary events, from the discovery of tobacco to King Kong climbing up the Empire State Building. In his previous TV series, The Bob Newhart Show, he appeared as Bob Hartley, a psychologist who played second fiddle to the neurotics who trooped in and out of his office.

Like their star, Newhart's shows seem to revel in obscurity. Though it enjoyed six successful seasons on CBS in the 1970s, The Bob Newhart Show never escaped the shadow of its longtime lead-in on Saturday nights, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His current series, Newhart, which debuted on CBS in 1982, has ranked consistently in the Nielsen Top 20 for the past three seasons. Yet tucked away on Monday nights following the higher-profile Kate & Allie, it has been the most unsung good show on TV.

This season may mark Newhart's breakthrough. In a small but risky schedule change, CBS separated its successful Monday-night pair of comedies and moved Newhart to the tougher 9 p.m. slot. Standing on its own for the first time, the program has moved up to 13th place on the Nielsen list -- a particularly impressive showing considering that its competition has included some heavily watched Monday Night Football contests as well as the seventh game of the World Series.

More important, Newhart is running with the easy, confident stride of a TV series at the peak of its form. Success has come without any of the usual sitcom crutches: not a single regular character is a wisecracking child, irreverent senior citizen or cute extraterrestrial. "Let's just say we're not a high-impact comedy like Laverne and Shirley," says Newhart, 57. "We give the audience credit for having some intelligence." Newhart's leisurely, low- voltage style sets the tone; instead of rapid-fire gag lines, he opts for shrewdly timed pauses, stammers and deadpan understatement. He gets his best laughs not so much by acting as by reacting. Says David Mirkin, who produces the show with Douglas Wyman: "Bob is the best 'oh' man in the business."

, Newhart's contribution to his second straight hit series began with its origin. After spending four years away from TV (appearing in such forgettable movies as The First Family and Little Miss Marker), he got the idea for a show set in a hotel. "It occurred to me that my first show was successful because of my reactions to crazy people," he says, "and that in a hotel, you have to be nice to the guests no matter how outrageous they are." Newhart continues to make suggestions on scripts and casting. But his major creative impact is simply the force of his familiar comic persona, which Newhart likes to describe as the "last sane man left, reeling against a world of crazies."

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The trouble with sanity, of course, is that the crazies usually get more attention. Two of the most inspired on Newhart are Stephanie and Michael, played with satiric brio by Duffy and Scolari. She is a spoiled blue blood; he is the quintessential Yuppie. They are made for each other: the two shallowest people on earth. Michael's conversation is a mix of '80s technospeak ("Dick, access those brain cells") and shameless flattery aimed at his "cupcake." Stephanie laps it up, since she is oblivious to anything unrelated to her looks, her clothes or, well, her. Even a stint as den mother for a troop of Ranger Girls is just another opportunity for self-adoration. "Why don't I tell you a little about me," she says perkily by way of introduction, "and then we can open the floor to compliments." Comments Dick to his wife Joanna (Mary Frann) after one Stephanie-Michael encounter: "Oh, to be young . . . and not them."

Duffy and Scolari are working so well together that Newhart fans should be on the lookout for that nasty word spin-off. But both actors insist they have no plans to remove their characters from the nourishing environment of Newhart. "I couldn't do a better Michael without Bob and Mary," says Scolari, "and I wouldn't want to do it without them." Newhart, as usual, seems happy to share the spotlight. "Jack Benny used to give many of the good lines to Phil Harris or Mary or Rochester," he recalls. "People told him he was giving all the funny things away. 'Yes,' said Jack, 'but I'll be back next week.' " With that sort of attitude, both Newhart and Newhart should be back for lots of weeks to come.

With reporting by Elaine Dutka/Los Angeles

Here is Mary Frann's Obituary from The New York Times

Mary Frann, 55, Bemused Wife on 'Newhart'

Published: September 25, 1998

Mary Frann, an actress best known for playing the wife of the comedian Bob Newhart in his second successful CBS series, ''Newhart,'' died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 55.

The cause was not officially determined as of yesterday, though Ms. Frann, whom friends reported had been in good health, apparently died in her sleep.

For eight seasons in the 1980's, Ms. Frann played Joanna Loudon, the pleasant, stable wife of the often harried Dick Loudon, the character played by Mr. Newhart. The Loudons had moved from New York to Vermont to run a small inn and were surrounded by colorful New England types like George, a slow-moving caretaker, and a handyman threesome of brothers from the backwoods, two of whom were named Darryl, for no apparent reason. Only the third brother, Larry, ever spoke.

Ms. Frann was a more or less traditional sitcom wife dropped into the center of these offbeat and bizarre characters. While Mr. Newhart's character was often exasperated by the encounters with eccentricity, Ms. Frann's Joanna was more often bemused by them.

Mr. Newhart said: ''I played a sort of Everyman character and she was the wife of Everyman. That can be a tough road to hoe.'' Referring to the classic comedy ''I Love Lucy,'' Mr. Newhart said: ''If Mary was Lucy, the show would not have worked. She had to be grounded.''

''Newhart'' is perhaps best remembered for its wildly original concluding episode, which ended with Dick Loudon getting hit in the head with a golf ball, losing consciousness and waking up in bed. The bed was the one Mr. Newhart used in his previous series, ''The Bob Newhart Show,'' and next to him in the bed was Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife in that show. The scene indicated that the eight years of ''Newhart'' had all been a dream.

''I think Mary had a little problem with that,'' Mr. Newhart said. ''But we were all thrilled at how the audience reacted when we did it.''

In the years since the ''Newhart'' show ended, Ms. Frann worked mainly as a guest star in other series and television movies. Earlier in her career, she had a four-year run on the NBC daytime soap opera ''Days of Our Lives.''

Born in St. Louis, Ms. Frann began a career in show business as a child model. She attended Northwestern University on a scholarship from the Junior Miss Foundation, majoring in drama. After her work on ''Days of Our Lives'' Ms. Frann had a starring role in 1982 in a series called ''Kings Crossing'' on ABC.

Ms. Frann, who is survived by two sisters, Patricia Sauve and Jacqueline Rogers, and a brother, Harry Luecke, all of Los Angeles, was also active in charity work. Her publicist, Jeffrey Lane, said she was most involved with the Los Angeles Mission, where she worked with women in rehabilitation from problems with drugs, alcohol or prostitution.

Mr. Lane said Ms. Frann helped form a ''celebrity women's action committee'' with a group of other female television stars including Diahann Carroll, Donna Mills, Linda Gray and Joan Van Ark.

''I always told Mary she was the glue that held it all together,'' Mr. Newhart said.

Here is Tom Poston's Obituary
Published May 2, 2007

Comedian Tom Poston dies at 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) Tom Poston, the tall, pasty-faced comic who found fame and fortune playing a clueless everyman on such hit television shows as Newhart and Mork and Mindy, has died. He was 85.
Poston, who was married to Suzanne Pleshette of The Bob Newhart Show, died Monday night at home after a brief illness, a family representative, Tanner Gibson, said Tuesday. The nature of his illness was not disclosed.

Poston's run as a comic bumbler began with The Steve Allen Show after Allen plucked the character actor from the Broadway stage to join an ensemble of eccentrics he would conduct "man in the street" interviews with.

Don Knotts was the shaky Mr. Morrison, Louis Nye was the suave, overconfident Gordon Hathaway and Poston's character was so unnerved by the television cameras that he couldn't remember who he was. He won an Emmy playing The Man Who Can't Remember His Name.

But when Allen moved the show from New York to Los Angeles in 1959, Poston stayed behind.

"Hollywood's not for me right now; I'm a Broadway cat," he told a reporter at the time.

When he did finally move west, he quickly began appearing in variety shows, sitcoms and films.

His movie credits included Cold Turkey,The Happy Hooker,Rabbit Test and, more recently, Christmas With the Kranks,Beethoven's 5th and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

On Mork and Mindy, which starred Robin Williams as a space alien, Poston was Franklin Delano Bickley, the mindless boozer with the annoying dog. On Newhart, he was George Utley, the handyman who couldn't fix anything at the New England inn that Bob Newhart ran. And on Newhart's show Bob, he was the star's dim-bulb former college roommate.

"These guys are about a half-step behind life's parade," Poston commented in a 1983 interview. "The ink on their instruction sheets is beginning to fade. But they can function and cope and don't realize they are driving people up the walls."

"In ways I don't like to admit, I'm a goof-up myself," Poston continued. "It's an essential part of my character. When these guys screw up it reminds me of my own incompetence with the small frustrations of life."

Goof-up or not, Poston was a versatile actor who made his Broadway debut in 1947 playing five roles in Jose Ferrer's Cyrano de Bergerac.

One role called for him to engage in a duel, fall 10 feet, roll across the stage and vanish into the orchestra pit. Other actors had auditioned and failed but Poston, who in his youth had been an acrobat with the Flying Zepleys, did the stunt perfectly.

He went on to play secondary roles in Broadway comedies and starred at regional theaters in such shows as Romanoff and Juliet and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. For 10 years he was also a panelist on the popular TV quiz show To Tell the Truth.

He made guest appearances on scores of television shows, including Studio One,The Phil Silvers Show,The Defenders,Get Smart,The Bob Newhart Show,The Love Boat,St. Elsewhere,The Simpsons,Coach,Murphy Brown,Home Improvement,Touched by an Angel,Will & Grace,Dream On,Just Shoot Me! and That '70s Show.

Poston and his first wife, Jean Sullivan, had a daughter, Francesca, before their marriage ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Kay Hudson, after they met while appearing in the St. Louis Light Opera, and they had a son, Jason, and daughter, Hudson.

Poston and Pleshette, who had appeared together in the 1959 Broadway play The Golden Fleecing, had had a brief fling before marrying other people. Both now widowed, they reunited in 2000 and married the following year.

Their paths had crossed on The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s. Poston made several guest appearances on the sitcom in which Pleshette played Newhart's wife.

In 2006, Pleshette underwent chemotherapy for lung cancer that her agent said was caught at an early stage.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 17, 1921, Thomas Poston moved from city to city as a child as his father hunted for work during the Depression. As a teenager, he made money as a boxer.

Following two years at Bethany College, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew troops to the European war zone during World War II.

Hunting for a postwar occupation, Poston read an interview with Charles Jehlinger, creative head of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was inspired to sign up for a two-year course at the Academy.

Besides Pleshette, Poston is survived by his children, Francesca Hudson and Jason Poston.

A private service was planned for immediate family. Details of a public memorial service were to be announced later.

For a Website dedicated to Bob Newhart go to

For an article on Newhart go to

For a Page dedicated to The Wayburry Inn go to

For some Newhart-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to
Date: Thu January 19, 2006 � Filesize: 26.1kb � Dimensions: 400 x 331 �
Keywords: Newhart: Cast Photo


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