‘NCIS’ Once Featured a Comedy Legend in an Episode

by Megan Molseed

Bob Newhart is certainly a legend in showbusiness. The iconic comedian started his career in standup before breaking into television…a place where he was clearly right at home.

The prolific actor is well-known for his portrayal of psychiatrist Bob Hartley in his television show namesake The Bob Newhart Show. The actor later went on to star in a few other namesake sitcoms such as Newhart in the 1980s and one titled Bob in the 1990s. Newhart then starred in the 1997 series George and Leo, among a variety of other roles on television and film. But who remembers the comedian’s role in a 2011 episode of the hit CBS investigation drama series, NCIS?

Bob Newhart Shows His Serious Side On ‘NCIS’

In the 2011 NCIS episode titled Recruited, Bob Newhart portrayed the role of Dr. Walter Magnus. Newhart’s Dr. Magnus is a former NCIS medical examiner; the predecessor to David McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

As is his style, Bob Newhart certainly brought some comedy to his role on NCIS. However, the character’s story was overall heartbreakingly tragic. Newhart’s Dr. Magnus character is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Initially, Newhart’s NCIS character tells Ducky that his wife has passed away and that he has become estranged from his daughter.

However, as the episode continues, we learn that Newhart’s Dr. Magnum is living with his daughter and her family. In a heartbreaking scene, the former NCIS medical examiner gets disoriented while working with Ducky; making it clear that the character is suffering from the illness.

Of Course, Newhart Always Has His Funny Moments

This NCIS role is certainly a very serious take on a character that we aren’t used to seeing from the longtime comedian. However, moments highlighting Newhart’s iconic humor still popped up during his guest appearance.

In one scene, Newhart’s Dr. Magnum tells Michael Weatherly’s Agent Tony DiNozzo that he is glad to be back at the helm working on an autopsy. Of course, DiNozzo notes that the room is not a fun place to be, with the off-putting smell and dead bodies. However, Newhart quickly quips back that this is “a matter of opinion.”

Bob Newhart Fell In Love With The Sounds Of Comedy

One of Bob Newhart’s most recent memorable film roles came in the Will Ferrell holiday hit Elf. In the film, Newhart portrays Papa Elf, the caretaker of Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf. This is just one of the comedian’s many, many roles in which he has made a lasting impact.

“I fell in love with the sound of laughter 61 years ago,” Bob Newhart says of how he ended up going into comedy.

“It’s a sound I wanted to keep hearing,” the prolific comedian continues.

“It’s one of the great sounds in the world, I’m serious,” Newhart adds. “I think it’s true. The mail I get, you become part of people’s lives. … It’s just great to make people laugh.”