A Look Back At Actor Bill Daily’s Career

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(credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Bill Daily was one of the most likeable, good looking, and witty supporting role actors on TV during the 1960’s and 70’s. Born in Des Moines IA in 1927, he started out being a musician playing bass in a number of clubs around the Midwest. He was  drafted into the Army and served in Korea in an artillery unit but later transferred to an entertainment unit. He graduated from Goodman Theatre School and then took a job at WMAQ-TV in Chicago as an announcer/floor manager and later staff director.

He later became Steve Allen’s announcer/sidekick on Allen’s syndicated talk show in 1964 when Hollywood producers noticed him. He earned guest roles on show like My Mother The Car, The Farmer’s Daughter, and Bewitched. But his big break came with producer Sidney Sheldon hired him for a supporting role for I Dream Of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. Jeannie ran on the NBC Television Network from 1965-1970. Daily enjoyed his time on the show as Air Force test pilot Roger Healey and best friend of fellow test pilot Tony Nelson (Hagman). Off the set, Hagman was unhappy with the scripts and was known for throwing tantrums on the set, which Daily and Eden had to endure yet supported him to the producers and writers.

In 1972, Daily joined the cast of The Bob Newhart Show (who had been a friend of his years ago) as Howard Borden, a neighbor of Bob (Newhart) and Emily Hartley (Suzanne Pleshette). Howard was a divorced commercial airline navigator who was always popping into Bob and Emily’s apartment without any notice, eat their food, borrow things… usually him needing a favor from them. The Newhart Show ran on the CBS Television Network from 1972-1978. The show had two different open and closing with the last one being a “jazzy” one… click here to listen.

Daily also appear as a game show panelist on CBS’s The Match Game with host Gene Rayburn and announcer Johnny Olson. When Richard Dawson left, Daily became a semi-regular on the show both on CBS Daytime and in its syndicated run.

I met Daily back in 1988 when I was with KTVT in its independent days and we carried his show Starting From Scratch where he played the role of a veterinarian, James Shepherd, and along with his ex-wife Helen (Connie Stevens), got along better divorced than as a married couple. KTVT aired the show Saturdays at 6pm during the 1988-1989 season.

Later in life, Daily appeared in made for TV movies based on I Dream Of Jeannie and reprised the role of Howard Borden in an anniversary special of the Newhart show. He also was a guest star in the NBC sitcom Caroline In The City.

Today, Daily is semi-retired and lives in Albuquerque NM, although he does some comedy and occasional TV guest appearances. He was appointed to the New Mexico Film Commission in the late 80’s.

Thank you, Mr. Daily, for all the laughs! See you next time.

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