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R.I.P. Bill Daily, the comedic neighbor of 'The Bob Newhart Show'

Image: The Everett Collection

"I'd like to be remembered as being a good father, a good husband, as being nice to work with, as being funny, and charming, sensitive," Bill Daily once said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. "I guess I'm all those wonderful things." 

He then broke out into a laugh. "Never bragging about myself," he added with a smile. He's being humble. He will be remembered fondly. 

Daily looked good in uniform. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, the Iowa native played an Air Force man on I Dream of Jeannie and a commercial pilot on The Bob Newhart Show. On both classic sitcoms, he was an essential comedic foil, shining in the supporting role.

After the Army, Daily traveled as a stand-up comic, eventually settling down in Chicago, where he worked in local television. He first met Bob Newhart in the Windy City. In fact, Daily hired Newhart as his accountant. The two would go on to collaborate for decades. Following his role of Howard Borden, neighbor to Bob Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show, Daily would guest star on Newhart and Bob.

The Mary Tyler Moore show attempted to create a spin-off with Daily in the lead, with the episode "His Two Right Arms" serving as a pilot. However, the concept, about an incompetent city councilman, never made it to series.

In 1988, Daily, at last, got a chance to headline his own comedy show, Starting from Scratch, playing a divorced veterinarian alongside Connie Stevens. The sitcom lasted one season.

Daily will perhaps be most remembered as Major Roger Healey on I Dream of Jeannie. He would reprise the role in the 1991 TV movie I Still Dream of Jeannie.

Daily's final sitcom role came on Caroline in the City in 1997, playing the father of a supporting character.

On September 4, Daily passed away in New Mexico, a state he had called home for three decades. He was 91 years old.


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