Bill Daily — the man famous for acting in the role of Major Healey on the 1960s breakout television show I Dream Of Jeannie amongst many other notable roles — has died at the age of 91, People reports. Well known for his flexible body language and facial cues that lent a great degree of latitude in his character acting in addition to strong body language and an irascible screen presence whenever he appeared, Daily was regarded as a tour de force by his fans and colleagues alike.
Following the resounding success of his time spent portraying the Major Healey character on I Dream of Jeannie, Bill Daily would go one to have even more prominence in his role on the 1970s iteration of The Bob Newhart Show, a follow-up to the 1960s variety show of the same name. This time, the subject matter of the program would be more fixated on a traditional sitcom setting, with the iconic Daily playing an eccentric and absent-minded neighbor to Bob Newhart’s character. Portraying airline pilot Howard Borden, Daily brought an inimitable sense of charm and comedic timing to what would otherwise have been a forgettable role.
Bob Newhart, his co-star, eulogized Bill Daily in a touching post shared to popular social media platform Twitter — taking the time to give his thanks and appreciation both for Daily’s work ethic and capability as well as his unflagging positivity and personality.
Bill Daily & I go back to Chicago in the 50's. He and I were both trying to get into standup. Later, he joined the Bob Newhart Show. He was our bullpen guy - you could always go to him. He was one of the most positive people I've ever known. I will miss him dearly— Bob Newhart (@BobNewhart) September 8, 2018
Newhart was not the only former colleague of Daily’s to step forward into the public eye to offer their remembrances and condolences given the news of his recent passing, with I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden also taking to Twitter to share her own fondest memories of their time together on the set. Daily was a series mainstay in his supporting role and was present for each of the five seasons that spanned the show’s entire run.
Our favorite zany astronaut, Bill Daily has passed. Billy was wonderful to work with. He was a funny, sweet man that kept us all on our toes. I'm so thankful to have known and worked with that rascal. Until we meet again Billy, xo -B #RIPBillDaily pic.twitter.com/OVZjaWB9CP— Barbara Eden (@Barbara_Eden) September 8, 2018
Daily was born on August 30, 1927, in Des Moines, Iowa, according to Variety. Though he was born in Iowa, he came of age in Chicago, Illinois, and it was there — while practicing a burgeoning stand-up comedy career and serving as an announcer for a local television station, that he would eventually meet Bob Newhart.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In a career that spanned two generations, he would find himself receiving credits for popular shows such as Bewitched, CHiPs, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Love Boat, and even ALF.
He is survived by his son, J. Patrick Daly, who works as a key grip in the film industry.