Bill Daily

Active - 1969 - 1991  |   Born - Aug 30, 1927 in Des Moines, Iowa, United States  |   Died - Sep 4, 2018   |   Genres - Comedy

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From the late '60s through the mid-'70s, first on I Dream of Jeannie and later on The Bob Newhart Show, Bill Daily was one of the most visible comic acting talents in television, despite the fact that he'd always intended on a career in music. Born in Des Moines, IA, in 1928, he was raised by his mother with help from several aunts and uncles after the death of his father and he gravitated toward music as a teenager. Following a stint in the army in the late '40s, Daily became a professional musician, playing upright bass with different groups in the Midwest, and he eventually added little bits of stand-up comedy to his repertory in the course of performing. He hooked up with an NBC station in Chicago, first working behind the camera as a writer and musician and then doing comedy on the air. Eventually, he became a regular guest as a comedian on The Mike Douglas Show, which originated from Chicago. From there, he was discovered by Steve Allen who brought him onto his show as a comedian and sidekick. Daily subsequently credited his musical side with providing him with the sense of timing to become a successful comedian. During the early and mid-'60s, Daily moved into acting roles on programs like Bewitched -- on which he debuted in a straight dramatic role, in a Christmas episode in which he was highly effective -- and was given a small role in the pilot of I Dream of Jeannie. That part, of Major Roger Healy, turned into the co-starring role after the program's first season. Following five successful seasons on that program, he moved to The Bob Newhart Show as Howard Borden, providing comedic support similar to the part he'd played on I Dream Of Jeannie, as Newhart's befuddled, constantly jet-lagged next door neighbor. Daily has only ever appeared in two feature films, both of them comedies -- the made-for-television In Name Only in 1969, as a carefree bachelor (clearly modeled after one aspect of his character on I Dream of Jeannie) and in Disney's release of The Barefoot Executive in 1971. Since the first Bob Newhart series left the air, his television appearances have been infrequent and always in supporting, guest starring roles, although he did appear on Nick-at-Nite helping to promote The Bob Newhart Show when it aired on the channel. He has since reportedly become a theatrical actor and director in the Albuquerque, NM, area.

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Factsheet

  • Met Bob Newhart at a Halloween party in Chicago when he was 16 years old.
  • Broke into show business as a bass player in Midwestern jazz bands; switched to stand-up comedy after serving in the U.S. Army.
  • Worked as an announcer and director at the television station WMAQ-TV in Chicago, where he played a role in developing Bob Newhart's "Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Ave." sketch.
  • First TV role was in a 1964 episode of Bewitched.
  • Took piloting lessons in 1946 but didn't pursue a license; later played a pilot on I Dream of Jeannie and a navigator on The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Wrote a 1969 episode of I Dream of Jeannie
  • Was a semiregular panelist on The Match Game in the 1970s.