R.I.P. Ginnie Newhart, wife of Bob Newhart, who was behind that famous final episode

Image: The Everett Collection

Ginnie Newhart, the wife of venerated comedian Bob Newhart, has passed away at the age of 82.

Ginnie and Bob met when they were set up on a blind date by comedian Buddy Hackett, whose children Ginnie was babysitting at the time. She described their first date, playing pool at Hackett's house, as "silly". 

"Every time somebody would sink a ball in the pocket or whatever you’re supposed to do, [we’d] run around the table with our cue stick singing ‘Bridge on the River Kwai.’"

After drifting in and out of each other's lives, as happens often in show business, the two reconnected and married in 1963. 

Though Bob Newhart is known for his TV shows like The Bob Newhart Show and Bob, his movie work in films like Elf and The Rescuers, and his Emmy-winning guest star role on The Big Bang Theory, he was still able to appear with Ginnie onscreen. She could be seen in the background of his shows and the spouses appeared together on the couples game show Tattletales. Ginnie could also be seen solo as a celebrity player on Super Password.

However, her biggest impact would come from not something she did in front of the camera, but behind it.

Newhart's famous finale episode, where Bob Newhart wakes up only to find himself in his previous show, The Bob Newhart Show, revealing that the entire series had been a surreal dream, has been counted as one of the most memorable moments in TV history and continually makes lists of the best series finales of all time. It's all thanks to Ginnie.

In a 2020 interview, Bob Newhart said "Ginnie knew I was unhappy with CBS. She told me, 'You know what the final show should be? You wake up in bed with Suzie [Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife on The Bob Newhart Show] and you describe this dream you had about owning an inn in Vermont.' I said, ‘'Honey, that’s a great idea!' Suzanne was actually at the same party, and we told her about it when we saw her. She said, 'I’ll be there in a New York minute.'"

Ginnie and Bob recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and a 93-year-old Bob revealed the secret to a long and happy marriage. "The marriages of comedians, no matter how stormy, seem to last a long time, and I attribute it to laughter. No matter how intense the argument you’re having, you can find a line, and then you both look at each other and start laughing. It’s over, you know?"

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