Now, in the new comedy "Elf," Bob Newhart plays Papa Elf, who raises a human being mistakenly brought to the North Pole as an infant. The human elf is played by Will Ferrell.
Newhart visited The Early Show Monday morning, after a long night of fun celebrating the CBS 75th anniversary. The skit he performed with Suzanne Pleshette received one of the night's biggest laughs. He says he was really nervous doing it.
"It's live," Newhart says, "There's no second take. And you don't know if the jokes are going to work or not going to work. You're not sure what the reaction of the people is going to be. Ho-hum them again, you know?"
Like the elf he plays in the film coming out Friday, Nov. 7, Newhart has been quite busy working.
He says, "The year turned out to be a lot busier than I kind of planned on it being. Normally, I do, like, 25 stand-up dates a year. But then 'Legally Blond II' came up and I wanted to work with Reese and then 'Elf' came up."
Working with Ferrell in "Elf," he says, was a fun experience. "What he does is he goes from sketch comedy, which is 'Saturday Night Live,' which is where you sustain a character for maybe three or four minutes, to movie acting, which is sustaining a character for an hour-and-a-half and he was able to make that transition."
Ferrell, he adds, is a very nice guy, "What you see is what you get. That's who he is," Newhart says.
Newhart can also be seen in "ER.
"'ER' came to me," he says, "and it's a three-parter and we did one last Thursday and the next two Thursdays. It's a straight, what I call my first intentionally dramatic role."