The Edgewater Historical Society debuted a plaque Sept.1 in honor of the comedian Bob Newhart. The dedication is meant to honor Newhart’s legacy and the sitcom’s imprint on Edgewater neighborhood according to Marjorie Fritz Birch, who played an important role in establishing the plaque.
Newhart attended Loyola and graduated with a business degree in 1952. Since his rise to fame, he has become a generous benefactor to the Loyola community according to Birch.
The plaque is located at Thorndale Beach Condominiums on (5901 N. Sheridan Rd.). The location of the plaque has important significance, according to Marjorie Fritz Birch
“The building just south of the park is the building used in the TV show as the exterior, where he was supposed to have lived, since ‘The Newhart Show’ resided in Chicago,” Birch said.
The program first premiered on Sept. 16, 1972, marking this month as the 50th anniversary of the sitcom’s longtime success. Newhart is now considered one of the university’s most famous alumni, and has been a generous donor to the arts program according to Birch. Mundelein Center of Fine and Performing Arts dedicated the Newhart Family Theatre,bearing his surname according to Dr. Frederick Lowe.
Dr. Frederick Lowe, music director at Loyola, said the music program played a role in the naming of the Newhart Family Theatre.
“My brass group played at the beginning of the ceremony, all the while they dedicated the space with Bob Newhart and some of his family,” Lowe said.
Marjorie Fritz-Birch is the widow of Bill Birch, a newsreel cameraman for the opening sequence of the sitcom. Birch, and John Holden, the president of the Edgewater Historical Society unveiled the plaque for the ceremony when several news stations were present.
“On the plaque there is a photograph of Bob Newhart walking towards the building, which is supposed to be a fun homage to Edgewater and Bob Newhart,”Birch said.
The dedication of the plaque was meant to illustrate The Newhart show’s impact on Edgewater, and its attraction of over 17.2 million homes according to CBS station.
The television sitcom that aired on CBS for over a decade displayed Newhart’s “sterling one-liners” according to comedian Lily Tomlin, however, the television stars’ acting is not limited to the Newhart show.
Sia Patel, a first-year, cognitive neuroscience major, said she knows Newhart from the classic Christmas movie “Elf”, as Papa Elf. His TV career has also stretched into the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” according to the Associated Press.
Newhart grew up in Oak Park, IL, and currently resides in California according to Birch. His ties to Edgewater and Oak Park are still remnant in both Chicago areas. Alyssa Zayed, a first-year nursing major, relates to Newhart since her family grew up in the same home town.
“My dad grew up in the Oak Park area, I have visited frequently and Newhart is a popular name there,” Zayed said.
Some students recognize Newhart as a well known figure and benefactor of Loyola University Chicago.
First-year cognitive neuroscience major Katie Ravasio said her grandparents watched The Bob Newhart Show.
“I often witnessed them watch this show and enjoyed his stand up comedy on Youtube’. My grandma always mentioned that her favorite character was Emily Hartely,” Ravasio said.
The Newhart Show has left remnants in Edgewater and will now always remain since the establishment of the plaque.