Pleshette, Suzanne: Gifted Actress Dies at 70

January 20, 2008–Suzanne Pleshette, the dark-haired, throaty-voiced actress who played Bob Newhart's sexy wife, Emily Hartley, for 6 years on the 1970s sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show,” has died. She was 70.

The widow of comic actor Tom Poston, Pleshette died of respiratory failure Saturday evening at her Los Angeles home. Pleshette underwent chemotherapy in 2006 for lung cancer.

A stage-trained actress who made her movie debut in Jerry Lewis comedy “The Geisha Boy,” Pleshette appeared in such films as “The Birds,” “Nevada Smith,” “Youngblood Hawke,” “A Rage to Live” and “Fate Is the Hunter.”

She also appeared with Troy Donahue, to whom she was married for all of 8 months in 1964, in the 1962 romantic drama “Rome Adventure” and the 1964 western “A Distant Trumpet.”

Among her screen credits are “40 Pounds of Trouble,” “If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium,” “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” “The Shaggy D.A.,” “The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin,” “The Ugly Dachshund” and “Blackbeard's Ghost.”

On Broadway in 1961, Pleshette replaced Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker,” opposite Patty Duke as Helen Keller.

On TV in 1991, she earned an Emmy Award nomination for the title role in the TV movie “Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean.”

Pleshette is best remembered for playing, Emily, the smart, sexy wife on “The Bob Newhart Show,” which ran from 1972 to 1978, for which she earned two Emmy nominations.

Pleshette retired from acting after marrying her second husband, businessman Tom Gallagher, in 1968.

She made a couple of dozen appearances on the Johnny Carson show, including one with fellow guest Newhart.

Pleshette once said that “Bob is just like my husband, Tommy, letting me go bumbling and stumbling through life. And the way it's written, the part is me. There's the stream of non sequiturs by which I live. There are fights. I'm allowed to be demonstrative. But the core of the marriage is good.”

Newhart, according to TV Guide, “was finding himself outtalked by Suzanne on the set about 12 to 1 but professed to be unperturbed by the phenomenon.” “I don't tangle,” Newhart said, “with any lady who didn't give Johnny a chance to exercise his mouth — even to sneer — for 10 whole minutes.”

Although Newhart got a new TV wife (Mary Frann) for his 1982-90 situation comedy “Newhart,” Pleshette had the last laugh, making a memorable guest appearance as Newhart's previous TV wife, Emily, at the end of the series' final episode.