LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Suzanne Pleshette, best known as the feisty but level-headed wife of Bob Newhart on television’s 1970’s hit “The Bob Newhart Show,” has died at age of 70, friends said on Sunday.
Pleshette died of respiratory failure at her Los Angeles home on Saturday, friends and associates told local media. She had received chemotherapy for lung cancer in 2006 and appeared at a “Bob Newhart” reunion in September in a wheelchair.
Newhart issued a statement calling his co-star ”an indomitable spirit“ and ”one of those people you thought would go on forever.
“She was a pro’s pro and I know she was looking forward to getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on her birthday, January 31,” said Newhart.
The raven-haired Pleshette, trained for the stage in New York, became a regular on television shows in the 1970s and 1980s and most recently appeared in a recurring role on NBC’s “Will & Grace.”
But she was best loved as the no-nonsense Emily Hartley, foil to the wry Bob Newhart, on “The Bob Newhart Show” from 1972 to 1978.
With her saucy wit, throaty voice and flair for comedy, Pleshette was the antithesis of the traditional staid American television wife and the on-screen dynamic between the two leads guaranteed the show legions of fans.
Born January 31, 1937, in New York City, Pleshette attended Manhattan’s High School of the Performing Arts and Syracuse University and went on to train at the Neighborhood Playhouse under acting great Sanford Meisner.
Her film debut came in 1958 with the Jerry Lewis comedy “The Geisha Boy” and Pleshette went on to appear in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and films like Western “A Distant Trumpet,” romantic drama “Rome Adventure” and comedy “The Ugly Dachshund.”
Pleshette appeared on Broadway in 1961, replacing Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker.”
The actress garnered two Emmy Award nominations for her work on “The Bob Newhart Show” as well as a nod for her leading performance in the 1991 television movie “Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean.”
Pleshette was married three times, most recently to comic actor Tom Poston, who appeared in the original Newhart series and returned to play handyman George Utley on the 1980s revival sitcom “Newhart.” Poston died in April 2007.
Pleshette’s first marriage was to actor Troy Donahue. Her second was to businessman Tom Gallagher, who died in 2000 from lung cancer.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Doina Chiacu