Bill Daily, the comic actor perhaps best known for his role as Major Roger Healey in the classic TV series I Dream of Jeannie has died. He was 91.
The actor’s son, J. Patrick Daily, confirmed his father’s passing to The Hollywood Reporter, noting that Daily died of natural causes on Tuesday, September 4, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His son, in confirming his death to Variety, remembered Daily as a man who loved everything.
“He loved every sunset, he loved every meal — he just decided to be happy about everything,” J. Patrick said.
Daily was a regular face on television between the 1960s and the 1980s. After appearing in various guest spots on series such as Bewitched, Daily’s breakout role was in I Dream of Jeannie where he starred alongside series leads Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden for five seasons. He later went on to play Bob Newhart‘s goofy neighbor on The Bob Newhart Show and later appeared as Dr. Larry Dykstra on ALF. Both Eden and Newhart remembered Daily on Twitter after news of his passing broke.
“Our favorite zany astronaut, Billy Daily has passed,” Eden wrote. “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.”
Newhart, who had actually worked for Daily as his accounting in Chicago before the pair made it in Hollywood, remembered Daily as one of the “most positive” people he knew.
“Bill Daily and I go back to Chicago in the 50s,” Newhart wrote. “He and I were both trying to get into standup. Later, he joined the Bob Newhart Show. He was our bullpen guy — you could always go to him. He was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. I will miss him dearly.”
Daily was born August 30, 1927 in Des Moines, Iowa. He grew up in Chicago where he turned to comedy as a way to distract people from his dyslexia, a condition he battled by memorizing all of his lines for performances, though Newhart writer-producer Jay Tarses recalled that he would “move his fingers” when he couldn’t remember his lines — something that frequently led to comedy.
“It was funny when it happened,” Tarses said. “Sometimes we’d be able to leave what he said in the show, and sometimes someone laughed, and we had to stop.”
Daily is survived by his son J. Patrick, who is a key grip for motion pictures.