We were trying to get away from the standard TV wife, and we knew that whoever we picked would have to be offbeat enough and strong enough to carry the show along with Newhart. We didn’t dream Suzanne would accept the part.”
The Hartleys were a unique television couple for the 1970s: a married but childless couple.
“We loved each other and didn't denigrate each other,” Suzanne said in the Archive of American Television interview. “It could have been a shrill relationship, [but] I did not want to be this bitch shrew wife who moved this little wussy guy around. I think what we did for Emily was fabulous.”
“The Bob Newhart Show” featured witty, sophisticated and somewhat eccentric comedy. The characters were well developed and allowed to grow during the seven-season (1972-78) run.
Suzanne, who was nominated for two Emmys, re-appeared as Emily Hartley in the famous “dream finale” of Newhart's second sitcom.
Newhart's wife Jenny suggested that “Newhart” end with Dick (Newhart) waking up in bed and telling his wife that he dreamed he'd operated a Vermont inn. The twist was that the wife was Emily, not Joanna (Mary Frann)..
Suzanne told Newhart, “If I'm in Timbuktu, I'll fly home to do that.."