“I don't think I'll ever top it, because that combination of a fabulous character and people that were just magic to work with is not something you find every day. It was artistically very gratifying.”

Julia said her character was “Not dumb. But she's never had to think or make a decision in her life,” she said in an interview with The Globe and Mail in 1984. “As one of the writer says, her brain is an underused muscle. She's spoiled, she just assumes the world revolves around her, and she's flattered the way a 4-year-old is when her mother is constantly telling her she's perfect."

Julia told The Globe and Mail that “Newhart” was a perfect fit for her comedic talent.

“It's where I always wanted to do comedy – with people writing for me and a little repertory company of people working together. There certainly isn't that much good humor written for women,” she said.
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Classic TV Beauties 1980s Countdown
    JULIA DUFFY as Stephanie Vanderkellen in "Newhart"
As the beautiful Stephanie, Julia perfected the arrogant, pouty, ridiculously-spoiled brat. Stephanie was haughty and narcisstic and clueless about the real world, yet she was adorable and entertaining.

Cut off by her rich parents, Stephanie was forced to take a job as a maid at the Loudon's rural Vermont inn. She said things like “Oh poo” when she wasn't happy; she threw a tantrum when her new puppy drew more attention than she did; she complained about having to view photos that didn't include her; and she wore a widow's black veil when a zit appeared on her face.
Affectionately nicknamed “Cupcake” by her attentive boyfriend Michael (Peter Scolari), Stephanie was perhaps the most self-absorbed TV character of the 1980s.

After a guest appearance the first season of “Nehwart,” Julia joined the cast the following year (1984) and was nominated for seven Emmys for best supporting actress in a comedy the next  seven seasons.
As egotistical as Stephanie's personality was, Bob Newhart said Julia was the diametric opposite.

“Julia is the antithesis of Stephanie,” he said in a 1987 interview with People magazine. “Her value system is intact, and she's very bright. I just stand in the wings and laugh.”

Mary Frann starred in “Newhart” as Joanna Loudon – Julia was scheduled to have lunch with Mary the week her co-star died unexpectedly of heart failure in 1998 – and Julia said she and Mary often talked about their good fortune of landing starring roles in “Newhart.”

“We both knew we were having the best time of our lives,” she said in an interview with her hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune in 2008. “That kind of job is the reason you get into the business. And I had it all – I had it all for the seven seasons I was on the show.

.No. 17
“I like 'Newhart” because we rarely rely on topical humor. You could watch the same show 50 years from now and have no trouble understanding the jokes.”

Julia said she always preferred comedy to dramatic acting.

"I wouldn't want to do drama. I don't have as much control over it as I do over comedy. A dramatic role is not as much mine; it could be played by anyone. When it's a comic role, I feel it's really my creation."

Born in Minneapolis Julia lost her father when she was age 7 and she was raised by her mother

“We probably lived in what were the slums of Edina [Minnesota], which seems pretty funny,” she said in an interview with The Record. “I really had a financially difficult childhood , the opposite of Stephanie's. Everyone I knew was richer than me; they seemed to live incredible lives, going on skiing vacations and all.”

She made her professional acting debut at 18 in a local production of “The Girl in the Freudian Slip.”   

“I wanted to be an actress very badly, but I didn't have the desire to be a comedienne. I was never the classroom cutup or anything,” she said in 1986.

“Even today, I think doing comedy is just an outgrowth of my being an actress. I'm not the kind of person who is 'on' all the time. Unlike standup comics, I don't have the need to make people laugh, unless I'm playing a funny part. Offstage, I couldn't care less.”
Julia moved to New York and worked as a waitress and hat check girl while attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She soon earned roles in the soaps  “One Life to Live” and “The Doctors,” and in 1982 she  guest-starred on one episode of “Cheers.”.

“Newhart” was known for its quirky comedy and bizarre characters. It focused on a do-it-yourself author from New York who settled down in rural Vermont to operate an inn. “Newhart” never had spectacular ratings but it ranked in the Top 25 for six consecutive seasons.

After “Newhart,” Julia starred with George Clooney as a single mother in the sitcom “Baby Talk.” She and Clooney were dropped after the first season, and the series didn't  last longer than two seasons.

Julia joined the cast of “Designing Women,” replacing Delta Burke in 1991 and playing Burke's character's wealthy cousin Allison Sugarbaker. Although that turned out to be the show's highest rated season, the producers didn't allow her to return for the final season.

More recently, Julia appeared in the Nickelodean series “Drake & Josh” as a high school teacher. “Suite Life of Zach and Cody.” She also guest-starred in the Disney series “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Wizards of Waveerly Place.”

Julia said she's adjusted to playing older-women roles.

“I feel like I'm just beginning to know how to play roles that are my age,” she said in 2008. “I was an ingenue for so long, so that part is fun for me to explore something that's new.”

Julia Duffy "Newhart" Stephanie Vanderkellen
Julia Duffy "Newhart" Stephanie Vanderkellen
Julia Duffy "Newhart" Stephanie Vanderkellen
Julia Duffy "Newhart" Stephanie Vanderkellen
Stefanie Powers "Hart to Hart" Jennifer Hart
Phylicia Rashad "The Cosby Show" Clair Huxtable
Suzanne Somers "Three's Company" Chrissy Snow
Christina Applegate "Married... With Children" Kelly Bundy
Marg Helgenberger "China Beach" K.C. Koloski
Lindsay Wagner "The Bionic Woman" Jaime Sommers
Stepfanie Kramer "Hunter" Dee Dee McCall
Farrah Fawcett "Charlie's Angels" Jill Munroe
Linda Hamilton "Beauty and the Beast" Catherine Chandler
Elizabeth Berkley "Saved by the Bell" Jessie Spano
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