In the new issue of Closer Weekly, Bob Newhart shares exclusive stories about his beloved ’70s sitcom. Forty-five years after its debut, The Bob Newhart Show — which cast the wildly popular stand-up as Chicago psychologist Bob Hartley and Suzanne Pleshette as his headstrong wife, Emily — continues to resonate with audiences in syndication.

In an understated fashion fitting its deadpan star, The Bob Newhart Show quietly broke boundaries, dealing with the mental illnesses of Bob’s patients and other taboos as well. “We were the first married TV couple to have a single bed,” Bob tells Closer exclusively. “I didn’t think it was risky – I just thought it was about time.”

The show also introduced TV’s first gay character, a patient of Bob’s played by future WKRP in Cincinnati DJ Howard Hesseman. He wasn’t the only rising star to spend time on Bob’s couch. “We had John Ritter, Sharon Gless, Loni Anderson, Morgan Fairchild, Pat Morita — and Henry Winkler, before he became the Fonz,” Bob says.

'the bob newhart show' getty images

Bob on The Bob Newhart Show.

The regular cast featured Bill Daily as the Hartleys’ across-the-hall pal, airline pilot Howard Borden, Peter Bonerz as Bob’s office mate, sardonic dentist Jerry Robinson, and Marcia Wallace as their man-hungry secretary, Carol Kester. “We all liked and supported one another,” Bob, 88, remembers of his co-stars. “It was a wonderful time.”

The sitcom enjoyed a stellar six-season run as part of CBS’ Saturday lineup, which included All in the Family, MAS*H*, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. “We used to call it Murderers’ Row, like the [1927] Yankees,” Bob tells Closer of that legendary team. But in 1978, he decided to call it quits. “I was so proud of the show, and I didn’t want it to get stale,” Bob says. “It was a tough decision.” He added to Closer, “It’s been a great life and a great ride. And let me say, it’s not over!”

For more on Bob, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!