Now 84, Newhart received a standing ovation from the audience as he stepped on stage to accept his award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in Los Angeles Sunday, saying later that the honor "really threw" him.
“I was totally unprepared for that. This is from your peers," the veteran actor told reporters backstage.
According to Deadline, Newhart had two of his classic shows, "Newhart" and "The Bob Newhart Show" taken out of Emmy contention so as to avoid the disappointment.
“I had come to feel that the kind of stuff I do just doesn’t win awards," Newhart said of his many years of nominations. "I just figured that every year, there were better people than me in the category."
Newhart won the Emmy for his portrayal of Professor Proton -- a children's science show host -- on the popular Chuck Lorre sitcom. He'll be back for another episode this season, telling Entertainment Weekly that the "rock concert" studio audience drew him back to the show.
“Chuck Lorre had been after me,” he added backstage.
We had over the years talked about doing something -- it finally was this year, and he said, ‘What will it take?’ I said, ‘It has to be in front of a live audience,’ because that’s all I’ve ever done. I don’t know how to do a show not in front of a live audience. So he said, how about “The Big Bang Theory,’ and I said, ‘Great,’ because I think it’s the best-written show on television. And I said I wanted it to be a recurring role -- I didn’t want it to be one and out.
Newhart had previously been nominated for "Newhart," a guest role on "ER" and a part in the TV movie "The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice."