TV

Bob Newhart Wanted Everyone To Know He’s Still Alive At The Emmys, And People Are Delighted

The 2019 Emmys opened with Bryan Cranston bragging about how TV “has never been better.” And yet the show’s early stretch was stolen by one of the kings of classic television. When Ben Stiller came out to present the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (which went to Alex Borstein for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), he offered a jokingly somber ode to TV greats, strolling past the wax likenesses of George Burns and Lucille Ball. Then he got to Bob Newhart. But it wasn’t a fake Bob Newhart. It was the real Bob Newhart.

The pioneering comic and star of two programs that bore his name — The Bob Newhart Show, from the ’70s, and the ’80s great Newhart — kept still at first, frozen in place as Stiller spoke of him as though he were dead, pondering aloud about what Newhart would think of television today were he still with us. Finally Newhart could take it no more. “Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. I’m still alive,” he said, his beloved deadpan still sharp as it ever was.

Stiller tried to save it, claiming he definitely didn’t think Newhart, who just celebrated his 90th, had passed on, that he was honoring legends both dead and alive. But Newhart — a king at keeping his cool around eccentrics and weirdos — wasn’t having it.

“This legend is gonna kick your a*s,” Newhart told the sometime Zoolander. “That way you’ll know I’m alive.”

Do the kids watch The Bob Newhart Show or Newhart? Possibly, possibly not. (Heads up: The former lives on Hulu.) But him telling off Ben Stiller should hip the young to his stellar and classic work. Many on Twitter were definitely impressed.

Longtime Newhart fans came out to praise the man.

Some shared stories.

And some took Cranston to task for alleging that modern television holds a candle to the stuff Newhart, among other gods, created.

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