“I Dream of Jeanie,” “Bob Newhart Show” co-star Bill Daily dead at age 91

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A famed actor from the classic TV sit-com era who was well-known for his supportive roles as comic relief has passed away at the age of 91.

That actor was Bill Daily, perhaps best known for his roles in “I Dream of Jeanie” and “The Bob Newhart Show,” who also made appearances in numerous other programs over the years.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daily passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His son, J. Patrick Daily, said that his father died of natural causes.

“Bill’s philosophy in life was that happiness was a decision you make. That was how he lived. Bill enjoyed every bit of his life to the fullest,” said Daily’s representative, Patterson Lundquist, in an emailed statement. “There will not be a memorial service or funeral for family, friends and fans. Instead, Bill’s final wish is to throw a party. Remember the good times and be happy.”

Comic sidekick

Daily received his first big break in show business when he was cast in the role of Roger Healy, the best friend and humorous sidekick to main character Anthony Nelson — played by actor Larry Hagman — who lived with an attractive genie named Jeanie, played by actress Barbara Eden.

That program ran from 1965-1970, and after a brief hiatus Daily was back as a sit-com co-star in “The Bob Newhart Show,” which ran from 1972-1978 and featured Daily in the role of Howard Borden, the hilarious and friendly neighbor of main character Bob Hartley, played by Bob Newhart.

“I called him our bullpen man. Whenever we were having trouble with a script on the show, we’d have Bill make an appearance,” said Newhart of Daily in a statement released Friday. “In recent years, we had hoped to have Bill be a part of The Bob Newhart Show tributes at the TV Academy, but by then he was no longer traveling. He was one of the most positive people I ever knew, and we’ll dearly miss him,” Newhart added.

Daily had also made brief appearances in guest roles on shows such as “Bewitched,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Aloha Paradise,” “ALF,” “Starting from Scratch” and was a regular on the game show “Match Game.”

Veteran, actor and entertainer

Daily was born in in 1927 in Des Moines, Iowa, grew up an only child with a single mother in Chicago and began acting and making music and singing while still in school.

After serving the country in the Korean War, Daily began a winding path through a series of gigs in show business, steadily making his way up the rungs of the career ladder.

Unbeknownst to most, Daily suffered from dyslexia his whole life and struggled to read his lines, having to memorize them instead to get them right.

Daily will certainly be missed by his family and close friends and those who’d loved the characters he’d played in popular sit-coms.

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