Sally Jessy Raphael

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The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half-hour interview, Sally Jessy Raphael talks about her childhood, including an appearance on the show Quiz Kids as a girl and taking acting classes as a child. She discusses attending Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) before transferring to Barnard College, and moving to Puerto Rico when she married after college. She details her first on-air radio and television jobs, both in Puerto Rico, and subsequent jobs on-air in Miami. Raphael discusses moving to New York and continuing her work in both radio and television, and her eventual move to NBC Radio’s Talknet, an overnight call-in show. She then moves on to talk about her television talk show, Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, including how it came about, her goals for the show, memorable guests and the viewing audience, how she handled sensitive topics, and how and why the show came to an end. Raphael also shares the origins of her signature red glasses. She concludes by talking about what makes a good talk show host, and her greatest career achievement and regrets. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on May 21, 2019 in Pawling, NY.

"Every once in a while somebody will come up to me and they’ll say, 'I didn’t know about AIDS or breast cancer... and I learned something from you that saved my life.' You can’t ask for anything better than that."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Sally Jessy Raphael on hosting her first televisions shows, in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s
Sally Jessy Raphael on some memorable calls she received on her overnight Talknet radio show
Sally Jessy Raphael on memorable episodes of her show, including having Ryan White and Cleve Jones as guests, interviewing nudists, and makeover shows
Sally Jessy Raphael on the end of her talk show in 2002
Sally Jessy Raphael on the origin of her signature red glasses
Sally Jessy Raphael on her proudest career achievement, and on career regrets
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on appearing on Quiz Kids as a child, and on acting experiences and classes she took throughout childhood; on attending Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) to study acting before transferring to Barnard College
On getting married and moving to Puerto Rico after graduating from college; on getting her first on-air radio job, and on her first television shows, in Puerto Rico
On leaving Puerto Rico after her divorce, and on being fired from multiple jobs; on hosting a radio show in Miami for station WIOD in the early 1970s; on other shows she hosted at the time, including an interview show; on doing interviews for the Associated Press and Reuters wire services, including a never-used interview with Papa Doc
On hosting A.M. Miami; on moving to New York from Miami, and on working for radio station WNEW and on television station WPIX

Chapter 2

On how her late night show on NBC Radio's Talknet came to be, and on memorable calls she received on her show; on negotiating her contract with NBC Radio as a woman
On how her television talk show, Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show came about; on her original goals for her talk show, and on major themes and issues she explored on the show; on NBC Universal eventually pushing her to change the show to something more outrageous, which she did not want to do
On the decision-making power she had on her show, and on the inspiration she took from Phil Donahue; on having experts on her show and following up with help for guests after they appeared on her show; on the show moving from St. Louis to New Haven, CT, and then later to New York; on the origin of her signature red glasses
On her interactions with her audience, and on her viewing audience; on a typical taping of her show; on how she felt about the other popular talks shows that were on at the same time as hers
On memorable episodes and guests on her show; on how she handled sensitive topics; on the "teens gone wild bootcamp" episodes of Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show
On the end of Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show; on her husband, Karl Soderlund

Chapter 3

On the impact she made on the entertainment industry, and on what makes a good talk show host; on the value of oral history interviews; on her proudest career achievement and career regrets; on how she would like to be remembered
Shows

Quiz Kids

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Sally Jessy Raphael on appearing on the show Quiz Kids when she was a child

Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show

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Sally Jessy Raphael on how she moved from radio to her own television talk show
Sally Jessy Raphael on her goals for her television talk show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and on major themes and issues the show explored
Sally Jessy Raphael on the various producers and production companies that owned her show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and on NBC Universal eventually wanting to change the tenor of her show to something more outrageous
Sally Jessy Raphael on the decision-making power she had on her show, and on the inspiration she took from Phil Donahue
Sally Jessy Raphael on having experts on panels on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and on how she followed up with help for guests after the shows
Sally Jessy Raphael on the 1995 incident following an episode of The Jenny Jones Show where a guest was murdered due to information aired on the show, and whether that affected the talk show industry
Sally Jessy Raphael on the research done for Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show
Sally Jessy Raphael on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show moving from St. Louis to New Haven, CT, and later to New York
Sally Jessy Raphael on the origin of her signature red glasses, and on being recognized by fans
Sally Jessy Raphael on interacting with the audience on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and on the viewing audience of her show
Sally Jessy Raphael on her awareness of the budget and affiliates on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show
Sally Jessy Raphel on the taping schedule of Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and on a couple of specific episodes
Sally Jessy Raphael on how she felt about the other popular talk shows that were on at the same time as hers
Sally Jessy Raphael on memorable episodes of her show, including having Ryan White and Cleve Jones as guests, interviewing nudists, and makeover shows
Sally Jessy Raphael on how she handled sensitive topics on her talk show
Sally Jessy Raphael on the "teens gone wild bootcamp" episodes of Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show
Sally Jessy Raphael on celebrity guests on her show, including Audrey Hepburn, Cher, and Patty Duke, and on being the kind of person who others open up to
Sally Jessy Raphael on the end of her talk show in 2002
Topics

First Big Break

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Sally Jessy Raphael on hosting her first televisions shows, in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s

Health and Medicine

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Sally Jessy Raphael on having Ryan White and Cleve Jones as guests on her show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show to discuss the AIDS crisis
Sally Jessy Raphael on Patty Duke's appearance on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, where she discussed her bipolar diagnosis

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sally Jessy Raphael on having Ryan White and Cleve Jones as guests on her show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show to discuss the AIDS crisis
Sally Jessy Raphael on Patty Duke's appearance on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, where she discussed her bipolar diagnosis

Pivotal Career Moments

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Sally Jessy Raphael on hosting her first televisions shows, in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s

Pop Culture

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Sally Jessy Raphael on the origin of her signature red glasses

Television Industry

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Sally Jessy Raphael on her show, Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show being syndicated, and what being syndicated means
Professions

Hosts

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Sally Jessy Raphael on the impact she's had on the industry as a female talk show host, and on what makes a good talk show host

Talk Show Host

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Sally Jessy Raphael on the impact she's had on the industry as a female talk show host, and on what makes a good talk show host
Genres

Game Shows

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Sally Jessy Raphael on appearing on the show Quiz Kids when she was a child

Talk Shows

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Sally Jessy Raphael on her talk show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show
People

Phil Donahue

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Sally Jessy Raphael on using Phil Donahue as a model for how she conducted herself on her talk show Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show

Patty Duke

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Sally Jessy Raphael on Patty Duke's appearance on Sally aka The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, where she discussed her bipolar diagnosis

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