Comedian/actor Bill Daily, known for his role as the bumbling Air Force Major and astronaut Roger Healy on the 1960s TV sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie” and as the omnipresent neighbor Howard Borden on “The Bob Newhart Show” in the 1970s, has died. He was 91.
According to reports, Daily died Sept. 4 of natural causes.
William Edward Daily was born on Aug. 30, 1927, in Des Moines, Iowa. Daily grew up in Chicago where he eventually would hire a CPA named Bob Newhart as his accountant. The two up-and-coming comics would soon move to Hollywood to seek their fame and fortune. Daily attended Lane Tech High School and studied for a time at the Goodman Theatre School.
According to hollywoodreporter.com, Daily also worked for a period of time at WGN on Cubs game broadcasts. He moved on to WMAQ-TV Channel 5 where he was hired as a floor director for the NBC affiliate. It was there where his TV career began in earnest. Daily wrote and performed in the daily variety show “Club 60” while at Channel 5. At the same time, he pursued stand-up comedy at local Chicago clubs. It was his standup work that eventually led to his friendship with Newhart, who was a CPA by day and struggling comedian by night at the time, also honing his craft at local clubs.
On Twitter Saturday, Newhart wrote of his friend: “He was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. I will miss him dearly.”
Bill Daily & I go back to Chicago in the 50's. He and I were both trying to get into standup. Later, he joined the Bob Newhart Show. He was our bullpen guy - you could always go to him. He was one of the most positive people I've ever known. I will miss him dearly— Bob Newhart (@BobNewhart) September 8, 2018
Daily’s first TV role was a 1964 appearance on “Bewitched.” Other TV credits would come to include “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Love, American Style,” “Alf,” “Newhart” and “Bob.”
Daily was married three times and had three children, two of them adopted. According to reports, he was living with his lone surviving son and family at the time of his passing.
Barbara Eden, the star of “I Dream of Jeannie,” also took to Twitter Saturday to remember her co-star, affectionately calling Daily “our zany astronaut” and writing, in part: Billy was wonderful to work with. He was a funny, sweet man that kept us all on our toes.”
Our favorite zany astronaut, Bill Daily has passed. Billy was wonderful to work with. He was a funny, sweet man that kept us all on our toes. I'm so thankful to have known and worked with that rascal. Until we meet again Billy, xo -B #RIPBillDaily pic.twitter.com/OVZjaWB9CP— Barbara Eden (@Barbara_Eden) September 8, 2018