LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ginnie Newhart, who was married to comedy legend Bob Newhart for six decades and inspired the classic ending of his “Newhart” series, has died. She was 82.
Publicist Jerry Digney said Newhart died Sunday in Los Angeles after a long illness. No further details were available. The couple recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Ginnie Newhart is credited with providing the idea for the 1990 “Newhart” finale that included a clever callback to her husband’s “The Bob Newhart Show.” The later show, which featured Newhart as a Vermont innkeeper, ended with him waking up in Chicago next to his on-screen wife from “The Bob Newhart Show,” revealing the second series to be dream.
Ginnie Newhart suggested the idea to her husband at a Christmas party that was also attended by Suzanne Pleshette, his on-screen wife in “The Bob Newhart Show.” That series ran for six seasons from 1972 to 1978 and helped cement Bob Newhart’s status as a legend of television comedies.
She is survived by Bob Newhart, 93, their four children, and 10 grandchildren.
The Newharts met on a blind date set up by actor-comedian Buddy Hackett, according to details provided by Digney.
The Newharts were close friends with comedian Don Rickles and his wife Barbara, frequently traveling together. In interviews, the Newharts said laughter was the secret of the longevity of their marriage.
Born Virginia Lillian Quinn, Ginnie Newhart was the daughter of character actor Bill Quinn, who appeared in “The Birds,” “Twilight Zone: The Movie” and had more than 230 other film and television credits.
Digney said a private funeral will be held for Ginnie Newhart.