Suzanne Pleshette, a dark-haired, smoky-voiced actress of stage and screen, is perhaps best remembered for playing Bob Newhart's confident and sexy wife, Emily Hartley, for six years on the popular 1970s sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show."
However, she was also a stage-trained New York actress who made her movie debut in the 1958 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."
On Broadway in 1961, Pleshette replaced Anne Bancroft in the role of Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker" opposite Patty Duke as Helen Keller.
And on television in 1991, she earned an Emmy Award nomination for the title role in the TV movie "Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean."
After what she thought would be a retirement from acting when she married her second husband, wealthy businessman Tom Gallagher, in 1968, she made a couple of dozen appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson — including one with fellow guest Newhart. The show was seen by writers David Davis and Lorenzo Music, the creators of the upcoming Newhart show, and they said they immediately knew she was perfect for the part.
Off-camera, Pleshette was known for being what an Orlando Sentinel reporter once described as "an earthy dame, an Auntie Mame who isn't afraid to tell a dirty story." Or, as TV Guide put it in 1972: "Her conversations — mostly meandering monologues — are sprinkled with aphorisms, anecdotes, salty opinions and X-rated expletives."
She enjoyed talking so much that during the making of "The Geisha Boy," Lewis took to calling her "Big Mouth."
Newhart, according to the TV Guide article, "was finding himself out-talked 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."