Bill Daily, Comic Foil on ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Dies at 91

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Bill Daily

He started out as a bass player and a stage manager on live television before getting big breaks from Mike Douglas and Steve Allen.

Bill Daily, the funnyman known for his supporting work on the sitcoms I Dream of Jeannie and The Bob Newhart Show, has died. He was 91.

Daily, who employed Bob Newhart as his accountant in Chicago before the two went on to show-business fame, died Tuesday of natural causes in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his son, J. Patrick Daily, told The Hollywood Reporter.

A self-described “second banana,” Daily spent five seasons (and 131 episodes) on NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie, which aired from 1965-70, then worked for six seasons (and 140 episodes) on CBS’ The Bob Newhart Show, which ran from 1972-78. The whole time, he battled dyslexia and had to memorize all his lines to keep going.

After appearances on the TV comedies Bewitched and The Farmer’s Daughter, Daily attracted the attention of I Dream of Jeannie creator Sidney Sheldon and landed the role of the goofy Roger Healey, the best friend of another NASA astronaut, Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman), on the fantasy comedy that starred Barbara Eden as a rather attractive genie.

In 1972, Daily guest-starred as an incompetent city councilman on a second-season installment of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The episode was created by writer-producers Lorenzo Music and David Davis as a showcase for him to star in a pilot.

When that didn’t make it to series, the writers tapped Daily to play Howard Borden (named for the milk company), a neighbor of Chicago psychologist Bob (Newhart) and Emily Hartley (Suzanne Pleshette). A divorced pilot, Howard suffered from a constant case of jet lag and had a habit of barging into the Hartleys’ apartment without knocking.



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