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Congratulate Bob Newhart on turning 90 on Thursday, and he offers a polite critique in return.

“I’m not crazy about the term ‘turning,'” he says, chuckling. “Sounds like the leaves are going to fall off. I’m becoming 90.”

As is true of the best comedians, Newhart is an impeccable wordsmith and has the career highlights and enduring success to prove his mastery. An inarguable description of Newhart’s precise and singularly droll take on life: ageless.

The Associated Press asked Newhart to share tips for reaching a milestone birthday.

“I’ve said it before, but of all the weird things, comedians’ marriages seem to last the longest: George Burns and Jack Benny and Buddy Hackett and (Bob) Hope,” Newhart said. “I think there’s something between longevity and laughter. You’ll be having a fight, and you’ll say something stupid and then start to laugh, and then she’ll start to laugh, and then the fight’s over. I think laughter is vital. It’s as vital as breathing. It gets you through difficult areas. Laughter is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. It’s like music, of a kind.”

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