It’s been a long time coming — 51 years to be exact — but Bob Newhart has finally won an Emmy. After seven nominations, beginning with a nod for writing for The Bob Newhart Show in 1962, the comedy icon picked up the award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, recognizing his appearance on The Big Bang Theory.
Newhart received the award Sunday night at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys. The awards show primarily honors the behind-the-scenes folks of the television world but also recognizes actors in guest roles ahead of the main event next weekend. The audience gathered at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre gave Newhart a standing ovation upon the announcement of his name. “I was totally unprepared for that,” he told press backstage on Sunday of seeing the crowd on their feet for him.
In his acceptance speech, the 84-year-old actor thanked his wife of 50 years, his four children, and The Big Bang Theory cast, “who really threw themselves on the sword for me.”
How did he manage to leave the Emmy Awards without a statuette for so many years? Newhart humbly told press backstage, “The best answer to that really is whenever I was nominated, there were better people in the category than me. That’s the truth. The best person wins. That’s the way it is.”
On Big Bang Theory, Newhart guest starred in a May episode as Professor Proton, the host of Leonard and Sheldon’s favorite childhood science show. When Leonard and Sheldon learn that Professor Proton can be booked for private events, they hire him … to hang out with them in their apartment.
Newhart will make a return appearance on The Big Bang Theory this season. He’s shooting that episode in October, though he won’t divulge what’s next for Professor Proton just yet. The joy he had working with Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki — which he compared to the ease and comfort of working with Larry, Darryl, and Darryl on Newhart in the ’80s — made him eager to guest star on the show again. That and the “rock concert audience” in the studio, he told EW on the carpet before the awards show.
Newhart’s previous Emmy acting nominations were for Newhart, a guest role on ER, and the TNT movie The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice, where he appeared alongside Noah Wyle.
The 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards will air on FXX this Saturday, Sept. 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.