Bill Daily (born William Edward Daily Jr. August 30, 1927-September 4, 2018) was a former American actor. He was best known to TV audiences as astronaut Roger Healey on the classic NBC sitcom I Dream of Jeannie from 1965-1970 and as commercial airline navigator Howard Borden on the classic CBS sitcom The Bob Newhart Show from 1972-1978. He also occasionally appeared as a semi-regular panelist on CBS' Match Game.
At a very young age, Bill's father died and he was raised by his mother and other family members. In 1939, Daily and his family moved to Chicago, where he spent the rest of his youth. Upon leaving Lane Technical High School, Bill decided to leave home to try to carve out a life as a musician, playing bass with jazz bands in numerous clubs across the Midwest.
He was drafted into the United States Army and served in the Korean War with an artillery unit, later being transferred to an entertainment unit.
It was in his traveling-musician days that Daily began performing stand-up and gradually began playing some of the bigger clubs in the country. After graduating from the Goodman Theatre School, he worked for the NBC television station in Chicago, WMAQ, as an announcer and floor manager and eventually became a staff director.
Bill then made the transition onto the small screen, playing various guest starring roles on shows such as My Mother the Car, The Farmer's Daughter and Bewitched. Veteran sitcom writer Sidney Sheldon noticed Daily and hired him for a supporting role that would make him very well known to TV audiences, astronaut Roger Healey, the sidekick to Larry Hagman's character Capt. Tony Nelson on the NBC sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, which debuted on September 18, 1965 and ended it's five year run on May 26, 1970 after 139 episodes.
In 1972, two years after Jeannie ended, Daily was back at work and back in another aviator's uniform, in what is perhaps his more signature role of Howard Borden on The Bob Newhart Show. Borden, a commercial-airline navigator who later became a co-pilot, lived across the hall from Bob Newhart's character of Bob Hartley and would frequently pop into the Hartleys' apartment to borrow things, mooch a meal, or have the Hartleys take care of his son when he had custody of him. The Bob Newhart Show ran from September 16, 1972 to April 1, 1978 on CBS.
He would also occasionally serve as a panelist on the 1970s CBS game show Match Game. After Richard Dawson's departure from the program in 1978, Daily became a more frequent semi-regular panelist, occupying the middle lower seat for the final three years of the show's CBS and syndicated run. One of the most memorable moments on the program came from 1979, during the one-person match when a contestant was given "Cuckoo (BLANK)"; she responded by saying "Cuckoo, Friend, and Ollie" as everyone on the panel got hysterical, Bill in particular.
For the two years following The Bob Newhart Show, Daily returned to stand-up, but in 1980, after years of making a living as a second banana, he was offered his own show titled Small & Frye. The show featured Daily as a neurotic doctor but lasted only three months before being canceled. He then went on to make three syndicated specials introducing young magicians called Bill Daily's Hocus-Pocus Gang which aired in 1982 and 1983.
Bill also reprised his I Dream of Jeannie role of Roger Healey in two made-for-TV reunion movies: I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later in 1985 and I Still Dream of Jeannie in 1991. In 1990, he reunited with Bob Newhart as a new, overbearing neighbor in the Newhart episode "Good Neighbor Sam". Also in 1991, he reprised the role of Howard Borden in The Bob Newhart Show: 19th Anniversary, which aired in February of that year.
In 1987, he was named director of the New Mexico Film Commission.
Bill has married three times; he married his first wife, Patricia Anderson, in 1949 and divorced in 1976. He also adopted two children, a son, Patrick, who is a key grip and stunt pilot in Hollywood and a daughter, Kimberley, who is a retired teacher in Colorado. In 1980 he married his second wife, Vivian Sanchez, with whom he traveled on the road performing Lover's Leap for two years; they had one child together, Becca, and divorced some time later. In 1993, he married his third wife, Becky Daily. The couple remained together until her death in 2010. Though he has since retired from acting, he still does some comedy and the occasional TV guest appearances. From 2006 to February 2009, he was a guest host on radio station KBQI, 107.9, in Albuquerque, on Thursday mornings.
On the day of September 4, 2018, Bill Daily passed away at the age of 91. His death wasn't confirmed publicly until three days after his passing. His I Dream of Jeannie lead star and longtime friend Barbara Eden took to Twitter to pay tribute to her longtime friends and colleague as she tweeted quote:
Our favorite zany astronaut, Bill Daily has passed. Billy was wonderful to work with. He was a funny, sweet man that kept us all on our toes. I'm so thankful to have known and worked with that rascal. Until we meet again Billy, xo-B #RIPBillDaily
And with the death of Daily as well as Larry Hagman in 2012 and Hayden Rorke back in 1987, Barbara Eden, at age 87, is the only surviving cast member of I Dream of Jeannie.
Bill Daily is survived by his children, Kimberley, Becca and Patrick J. Daily.