Bob Newhart, one of the true legends of American comedy who in the 1970s and 1980s starred in not one but two hit sitcoms, and who is most easily identified by his trademark comic stammering, will be traveling to a galaxy far, far away — at least for one episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Newhart made an award-winning guest appearance last year on the long-running sitcom about geeky sci-fi and comic book fanboys, but on May 1 he will appear as “Professor Proton,” a Jedi master and mentor to the Jim Parson character “Sheldon” on the show’s “Star Wars Day” episode.
Star Wars Day, for those not quite as obsessed with Star Wars fandom as the characters on The Big Bang Theory, is “celebrated” every May 4 with screenings and Star Wars events at which fans greet each other with the expression, “May the Fourth be with you.”
If you’re a Star Wars geek, you get it.
This year, however, The Big Bang Theory producers and Disney-owned Lucasfilm are teaming up for the show’s Star Wars day episode — and knowing that Bob Newhart would be making another appearance on the show this season, they decided, why not use the 84-year-old comic in the actual Star Wars episode?
“We knew that Bob was coming back and Lucasfilm called us, and we realized that that this might be an opportunity to mix both stories and come up with something special,” said Big Bang Theory Executive Producer Steve Molaro.
Bob Newhart broke into show business when, as an advertising copywriter, he and a co-worker would waste endless hours at the office making comical, improvised phone calls to each other. The calls were so funny that when his friend got bored with them, Bob Newhart kept up the routines on his own.
When a recording of one of his phone call bits reached an executive at Warner Bros Records, the next step was Bib Newhart’s debut comedy album, and instant classic, The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart. His career took off from there.
After numerous TV and film appearances and more Button-Down Mind comedy albums, Newhart got his own sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show, in which he played a psychiatrist with a regular clientele of comically eccentric patients, which ran from 1972 to 1978 and was one of the biggest hit sitcoms of that decade.
He followed that success in the 1980s with Newhart, another smash hit which ran from 1982 to 1990. But amazingly, Bob Newhart never won an Emmy — until he made his first guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory in 2013.