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Dishing on the stars and co-stars

Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife, Emily, from 1972 to 1978 on "The Bob Newhart Show": "There was such a chemistry there. I told Mary Frann, when we were doing 'Newhart,' that you have the toughest job on television, because they are going to compare you to Suzie. It was tough, but [Frann] pulled it off. I knew people were going to say 'Oh, I liked Suzanne better.' But as long as she was prepared for that and knew in advance that that was going to happen, it helped us establish a chemistry also."

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Tom Poston, a longtime friend of Newhart's, who played recurring characters in both Newhart's sitcoms and married Suzanne Pleshette in 2001: "Where do you start? I knew Tom probably longer than anybody else. I'd just made the record ['The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart'] and I got a call to go to the Emmys ... Steve Allen was the host that year. So I met Louie Nye, Tom Poston, Don Knotts, they were all the character actors from Steve's show. I'd be saying, 'Oh my God, that's Don Knotts!' and Tom would talk to me like I was an equal, which I found really hard to understand."

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Dean Martin: "The era we lived through was just a great era, there were giants. Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, what a time of life to be part of the scene. No one seems to recognize Dean, because he made it look too easy. There's no argument that Frank [Sinatra] was the greatest singer of our generation, and may have been the greatest of all time. But at one point, Dean was No. 1 on television, he was No. 1 in nightclubs, he was No. 1 in records, he was No. 1 in movies and he was No. 1 in Vegas. So I don't know who else has come that close to being so successful in so many fields."

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Ruth Gordon, who appeared on "Newhart" as the grandmother of Peter Scolari, who played television producer Michael Harris: "You know Ruth Gordon goes back to the stage. It's a person you never thought you'd ever meet or would be on your show. We didn't really do a show of stars, because it's a trap. Lucy [Ball] used to do it a lot, she'd have Jackie Gleason as a guest and then she'd have Jimmy Stewart as a guest, and then Jack Benny, but then it becomes, 'OK, who have you got this week?' and we didn't want to fall into that trap. In this case, she so totally fit the role that we used her.

"That happened to me early on, too. They were casting a movie called 'Hot Millions,' with Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith and Karl Malden. They were kicking around names for the role of [Willard C.] Gnatpole, and Peter Ustinov said, 'He's a Bob Newhart type.' And everybody agreed, and then they said, 'Well, who can we get?'"

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Lisa Kudrow: "I worked twice with Lisa. She was in the final episode of 'Newhart.' She was the wife of one of the Darryls, when they finally spoke. She was in a show I did called 'Bob,' she was Tom Poston's daughter. The show lasted a year and a half. I didn't know where she was going to wind up, but I knew she heard the muse, she understood it. And then the next thing I knew, there she was on 'Friends.'"

-- Anne Neville

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