Dick Cavett

Interviewer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Dick Cavett speaks about some of his early pursuits in magic, theater, and athletics. He reminisces about meeting Charles Laughton backstage at a performance of "Don Juan in Hell" and how seeing Laughton and the others backstage compelled him to feel that he, too, belonged in show business. He recounts his studies at Yale and his work as an office temp before becoming a copy boy at "Time" magazine. He lists some of the early bit parts he had on television, and outlines getting a break writing material for The Jack Paar (Tonight) Show, although initially he worked on the show as a talent booker. Cavett recalls his friendship with Johnny Carson, at first writing for him for an Emmy broadcast and later for The Tonight Show. He gives his impressions of Merv Griffin, whom he wrote for as well, speaks of his days as a stand-up comic, relates a couple of his jokes, and comments on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. He then details his several decades as a talk show host, beginning with a number of ABC series: a daytime 90-minute, five days-a-week venture; an ABC primetime three-nights-a-week summer show; and a late night version which ran from 1969-72. He talks of interviewing guests Janis Joplin, Katharine Hepburn, Norman Mailer (who tussled on-air with Janet Flanner and Gore Vidal), Georgia governor Lester Maddox, Groucho Marx, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Fred Astaire and Ray Charles. Cavett discusses his continuation as the host of shows on PBS and CNBC, comments on his distinctive and recognizable voice, talks of the release of his classic shows on DVD, and shares his experience blogging for "The New York Times." Ron Simon conducted the interview on December 12, 2008 in New York, NY.

"Jack [Paar's] advice was, 'kid, don't do interviews. That means clipboards, and David Frost, and what's your favorite color. Make it a conversation.' When you get guests out there and you're talking, you forget there's a commercial coming."

Highlights
Dick Cavett on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his friendship with Carson
02:27
Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54
Dick Cavett on his interviewing style
02:02
Dick Cavett on writing the intro for Jayne Mansfield's appearance on The Jack Paar Show
01:33
Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
02:31
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on loving magic as a kid, which led him to meeting a young magician named Johnny Carson
09:35
On acting in summer theater; on being a high school gymnast; on radio programs he enjoyed and being drawn towards show business
08:16
On attending Yale University; on getting a job writing for Jack Paar; on temp jobs he had out of Yale; on his various roles, including interviewing guests, on The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show; on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his friendship with Carson
24:49
On working with Merv Griffin; on transitioning to stand-up comedy; on his talent writing for others, but not for himself; on appearing on The Merv Griffin Show and The Ed Sullivan Show
12:59
On on getting his own daytime talk show in 1968, The Dick Cavett Show
02:45

Chapter 2

On writing the intro for Jayne Mansfield's appearance on The Jack Paar Show; on his first morning talk show, assembling his writing staff, and his monologue
08:11
On replacing Joey Bishop; on having a summer replacement talk show, The Dick Cavett Show, three nights a week on ABC; on interviewing '60s counterculture and rock icons; on replacing Joey Bishop in late night and going up against Johnny Carson
08:33
On his interviewing style; on memorable interviews; on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
14:55
On transitioning to a talk show on PBS (also called The Dick Cavett Show); on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono; on the theme song to his talk show; on differences between having a talk show on several networks
08:44
On appearances on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and hosting Saturday Night Live; on game show appearances; on the HBO series Time Was; on narration and his identifiable voice; on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
12:01
On DVDs of The Dick Cavett Show; on writing newspaper columns and blogs for The New York Times; on his columns on depression; on the state of the talk show today
08:32

Chapter 3

On advice to aspiring talk show hosts; on interesting guests; on how he'd like to be remembered; on fame; on a final thought
05:14
Shows

Dick Cavett Show, The

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Dick Cavett on getting his own daytime talk show in 1968, The Dick Cavett Show
02:45
Dick Cavett on his first morning talk show, assembling his writing staff, his monologue, and the show's cancellation after one year
06:38
Dick Cavett on his PBS talk show
00:56
Dick Cavett on the theme song to his talk show
02:00
Dick Cavett on his PBS talk show producer Chris Porterfield
01:07
Dick Cavett on differences of having a talk show on several different networks
01:47
Dick Cavett on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
02:38
Dick Cavett on DVDs of The Dick Cavett Show
05:12
Dick Cavett on the guests on the first taping of his first talk show - Angela Lansbury, Muhammed Ali, and Gore Vidal
00:25
Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
02:31

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Dick Cavett on appearing as a stand-up comic on The Ed Sullivan Show
02:04

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Dick Cavett on writing for Johnny Carson for the Emmys
00:52

Jeopardy!

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Dick Cavett on the real creator of Jeopardy!
00:37

Merv Griffin Show, The

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Dick Cavett on a letter he received from Groucho Marx about Cavett's appearance on The Merv Griffin Show
01:50

Playhouse 90

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Dick Cavett on being an extra on the last episode of Playhouse 90 done live from New York
00:36

Saturday Night Live

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Dick Cavett on hosting Saturday Night Live
01:04

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Dick Cavett on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his friendship with Carson
02:27

Tonight Starring Jack Paar aka The Jack Paar Show

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Dick Cavett on being a huge fan of The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show and eventually writing for Paar
04:05
Dick Cavett on his various roles, including interviewing guests, on The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show
06:02
Dick Cavett on writing the intro for Jayne Mansfield's appearance on The Jack Paar Show
01:33
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54

Emmy Awards

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Dick Cavett on writing for Johnny Carson for the Emmys
00:52

Fame & Celebrity

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Dick Cavett on fame
00:50

Memorable Moments on Television

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Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54
Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
02:31

TV Theme Songs

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Dick Cavett on Bobby Rosengarden and the theme song to Cavett's talk show
02:00

Television Industry

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Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54
Dick Cavett on fame
00:50

We Laughed

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Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
02:31
Professions

Actor

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Dick Cavett on getting the first acting job he ever tried out for
01:09

Hosts

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Dick Cavett on his interviewing style and advice from Jack Paar
02:02
Dick Cavett on advice to aspiring talk show hosts
01:41

Interviewer

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Dick Cavett on his interviewing style and advice from Jack Paar
02:02

Performers

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Dick Cavett on getting the first acting job he ever tried out for
01:09

Talk Show Host

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Dick Cavett on advice to aspiring talk show hosts
01:41

Writers

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Dick Cavett on writing for The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show
02:02
Genres

Late Night

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Dick Cavett on being a huge fan of The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show and eventually writing for Paar
13:23
Dick Cavett on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his friendship with Carson
02:27

Talk Shows

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Dick Cavett on writing for Johnny Carson for the Emmys
02:45
Dick Cavett on his first morning talk show, evening show, and PBS talk show, all called The Dick Cavett Show
56:03
Dick Cavett on advice to aspiring talk show hosts
01:41
People

Muhammad Ali

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Dick Cavett on the guests on the first taping of his first talk show - Angela Lansbury, Muhammed Ali, and Gore Vidal
00:25

Woody Allen

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Dick Cavett on lines of his that Woody Allen has congratulated him on
00:40
Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Woody Allen
00:20

Fred Astaire

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Dick Cavett on his talk shows as historical documents
00:58
Dick Cavett on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
01:34

Joey Bishop

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Dick Cavett on replacing Joey Bishop in late night and going up against Johnny Carson
00:34

Marlon Brando

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Dick Cavett on Marlon Brando feeling a kinship with Cavett
00:32

Sid Caesar

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Dick Cavett on Sid Caesar's spotty memory during his alcohol daze
00:34

Sammy Cahn

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Dick Cavett on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
01:34

Johnny Carson

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Dick Cavett on his love of magic, which led him to meeting a young magician named Johnny Carson
02:47
Dick Cavett on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his friendship with Carson
06:25
Dick Cavett on replacing Joey Bishop in late night and going up against Johnny Carson
03:32

James Franciscus

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Dick Cavett on taking a drama workshop at Yale with James Franciscus
00:56

Cary Grant

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Dick Cavett on trying to get Cary Grant on his talk show
00:20

Merv Griffin

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Dick Cavett on working with Merv Griffin
02:12

Rex Harrison

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Dick Cavett on Moss Hart  and Rex Harrison performing at the Schubert Theater across the street from Yale
01:43

Moss Hart

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Dick Cavett on Moss Hart  and Rex Harrison performing at the Schubert Theater across the street from Yale
01:22

Katharine Hepburn

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Dick Cavett on prepping for an interview Katharine Hepburn
00:34

Van Johnson

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Dick Cavett on a pilot he did with Van Johnson and ultimately getting to host a daytime show
01:10

Janis Joplin

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Dick Cavett on interviewing '60s counterculture and rock icons - including Janis Joplin
02:51

Angela Lansbury

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Dick Cavett on the guests on the first taping of his first talk show - Angela Lansbury, Muhammed Ali, and Gore Vidal
00:35

Irving Lazar

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Dick Cavett on agent Irving Lazar telling once that Johnny Carson though Cavett was the only person who could ever beat him in late night
01:38

John Lennon

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Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54

Alan Jay Lerner

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Dick Cavett on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
01:34

Jerry Lewis

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Dick Cavett on writing for Jerry Lewis
02:13

David Lloyd

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Dick Cavett on the best thing Cavett ever said, according to David Lloyd
00:54

Jayne Mansfield

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Dick Cavett on writing the intro for Jayne Mansfield's appearance on The Jack Paar Show
01:33

Groucho Marx

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Dick Cavett on writing for Groucho Marx
00:38
Dick Cavett on a letter he received from Groucho Marx about Cavett's appearance on The Merv Griffin Show
01:50
Dick Cavett on interviewing friend Groucho Marx
02:31
Dick Cavett on interviewing Groucho Marx
01:21

Robert De Niro

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Dick Cavett on interviewing Robert De Niro
00:39

Yoko Ono

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Dick Cavett on interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono and problems with the network
02:54

Jack Paar

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Dick Cavett on getting a job writing for Jack Paar
04:05
Dick Cavett on his various roles, including interviewing guests, on The Jack Paar Show aka The Tonight Show
06:02
Dick Cavett on writing the intro for Jayne Mansfield's appearance on The Jack Paar Show
01:33
Dick Cavett on his interviewing style and advice from Jack Paar
02:02

Jack Rollins

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Dick Cavett on Jack Rollins hiring him as a stand-up comic and becoming a successful comic
00:39

Bobby Rosengarden

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Dick Cavett on Bobby Rosengarden and the theme song to Cavett's talk show
02:00

Paul Simon

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Dick Cavett on interviewing songwriters on his PBS talk show
01:34

Frank Sinatra

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Dick Cavett on trying to get Frank Sinatra on his talk show
02:06

Ed Sullivan

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Dick Cavett on appearing as a stand-up comic on The Ed Sullivan Show
02:04

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