Why Bob Newhart Was Once Hospitalized

Actor and comedian Bob Newhart is 91 years old. He was born in 1929, so he has obviously seen a lot of change in the world during his lifetime. But does he feel like he's in his 90s?  "My mind doesn't. I can't turn it off," he told The New York Times in September 2019, as he approached the monumental birthday. "The other day, there was a story about a pilot getting arrested for being drunk in the cockpit. I immediately thought: What if he had made it past security, wound up flying the plane and said to the passengers [in a slurred voice]: 'Welcome to Delta. Welcome to a flight from Los Angeles to, um, to, um, I have it written down here somewhere, it's the mountains and then there's some more mountains and then we're on the other side of that.'" Clearly, his legendary sense of humor is still in top form!

Obviously, even the healthiest 91-year-old knows that there's limited time left, and the comedian admitted that he does think about death and has some thoughts on the afterlife. "What I'm actually hoping is there's the Pearly Gates and God's there," he told the Times. "And he says to me, 'What did you do in life?' And I say, 'I was a stand-up comedian.' And he says: 'Get in that real short line over there."

But how is he really doing? Well, after one major health scare, he turned his life around. Keep reading to learn about why Bob Newhart was once hospitalized.

Bob Newhart's terrible habit landed him in the hospital

In 2006, Bob Newhart wrote the book "I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! and Other Things That Strike Me as Funny." In it he wrote, "In nearly every photograph we have of me in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, I'm holding a cigarette. I always smoked onstage ... I was so addicted that if I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom, I'd light a cigarette for the walk."

Newhart was such a heavy smoker that it landed him in the hospital. He wrote, "My realization about the evils of nicotine came one summer day in 1985 when I developed a nosebleed that just wouldn't stop." Newhart was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with secondary polycythemia, which causes the overproduction of red blood cells. That, in turn, causes the blood to thicken and increases one's risk of stroke, per Healthline. Well, this scared Newhart so badly that the then 56-year-old quit smoking cigarettes pretty much on the spot, according to his book. Fortunately, it took him just a few weeks to recover. 

We're grateful he stopped smoking so he could continue making us laugh for a few more decades. Today, he's still writing new material, per Forbes. As for why he continues working at 91, he said, "I fell in love with the sound of laughter 61 years ago. It's a sound I wanted to keep hearing." Thank you for all the laughter, Mr. Newhart.