William Clotworthy

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, William Clotworthy talks of his early years working as an NBC page in the late 1940s. He describes joining advertising agency BBDO (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn) in October 1950, and details his 25-year career as a commercial television producer for the agency. He discusses several of the series for which he served as the ad liaison, including G. E. Theater (where he worked closely with host Ronald Reagan), Your Hit Parade, and You Bet Your Life. Clotworthy then outlines his work from 1979-91 as NBC's Director of Broadcast Standards, where he primarily served as the network censor for Saturday Night Live until his retirement. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 28, 2006 in Los Angeles, CA.

"Somebody asked me one day, 'what's the first thing you do when you read these ["Saturday Night Live"] scripts?' I said, 'I laugh.' Now after I laugh, I may go in and cut it to ribbons, but we were human people and we had senses of humor. We also had a job to do to help keep the network on the air and I think we did it pretty well."   

Highlights
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
06:20
William Clotworthy on drug humor and Al Franken on Saturday Night Live
00:52
William Clotworthy on working with Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live
02:34
William Clotworthy on escorting Milton Berle's mother on Texaco Star Theater while he was an NBC page
01:10
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on You Bet Your Life
01:57
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on growing up in New Jersey; on majoring in drama at Syracuse University; on becoming an NBC page in 1948; on working at NBC during the 1948 election
On joining advertising agency BBDO; on working for client American Tobacco; on the television department at BBDO; on Your Hit Parade; on directing commercials on Robert Montgomery Presents; on early baseball; on working on The Jack Benny Program

Chapter 2

On Jack Benny; on Lucky Strike and writing radio shows; on many people making their TV debuts on T his is Show Business; on moving to BBDO in California and representing advertisers on General Electric Theater; on writing Ronald Reagan's lead-ins and lead-outs for General Electric Theater
On the format of General Electric Theater; on writing for the show; on representing advertisers on You Bet Your Life; on working with Bing Crosby

Chapter 3

On Sheree North's dance on General Electric Theater; on the 1952 political campaign and BBDO representing the Republican party - Eisenhower; on how they got Ike to wear makeup; on Eisenhower not liking television; on the Hollywood Blacklist
On his 25 year career at BBDO; on General Electric True with Jack Webb; on radio and television commercials he worked on; on his friendship with Ronald Reagan; on how the television landscape changed over the years; on leaving BBDO and joining Standards & Practices at NBC, and getting assigned to Saturday Night Live

Chapter 4

On the importance of context for Standards and Practices; on Steven Bochco having trouble with Standards and Practices; on Charles Rocket and censorship on Saturday Night Live; on Sam Kinison going against Standards and Practices on Saturday Night Live
On drug humor being allowed on Saturday Night Live; on pressure from outside organizations; on a controversial joke by David Letterman; on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
On a typical work week at Saturday Night Live

Chapter 5

On Saturday Night Live' s production schedule; on Lorne Michaels; on working with the show's writers; on working with Al Franken; on challenges he faced as a Standards & Practices Executive; on memorable and less than ideal guest hosts and performers on Saturday Night Live
On the season that Jean Doumanian ran Saturday Night Live; on Brandon Tartikoff bringing Dick Ebersol in to run the show; on cast members he worked with: Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jon Lovitz

Chapter 6

On working with cast members of Saturday Night Live; on a controversial David Bowie appearance; on retiring in 1991
On his last days as the Standards Executive for Saturday Night Live; on becoming a Presidential historian; on consulting for the WB channel; on career regrets; on his title of "Editor" rather than "Censor"; on wanting to allow the word "fart" on Saturday Night Live; on advice to aspiring professionals; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Danny Kaye Show, The

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on The Danny Kaye Show
00:43

General Electric Theater, The

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
11:07
William Clotworthy on working with Bing Crosby
04:54

General Electric True

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on General Electric True with Jack Webb
00:36

Jack Benny Program, The

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on working on The Jack Benny Program
01:00
William Clotworthy on working on the premiere of The Jack Benny Program with Ben Hogan as guest
01:30

Kukla, Fran & Ollie

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on NBC getting the Kukla, Fran & Ollie feed from Chicago
01:07

Robert Montgomery Presents

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on representing client American Tobacco in television shows Robert Montgomery Presents, Your Hit Parade, and This is Show Business
05:46
William Clotworthy on working on Robert Montgomery Presents
02:17

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on joining Standards & Practices at NBC, and getting assigned to Saturday Night Live
07:58
William Clotworthy on Charles Rocket and censorship on Saturday Night Live when Rocket swore live on air
03:08
William Clotworthy on doing Standards and Practices for Saturday Night Live; on drug humor, pressure from outside groups, and a typical work week
23:45
William Clotworthy on the famous "Nude beach" sketch on Saturday Night Live
02:07
William Clotworthy on Saturday Night Live' s production schedule, Lorne Michaels, and the cast of the show
27:33
William Clotworthy on working with cast members of Saturday Night Live, on retiring
16:29

Texaco Star Theater

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on working on Texaco Star Theater while he was an NBC page
01:53

This Is Show Business

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on representing client American Tobacco in television shows Robert Montgomery Presents, Your Hit Parade, and This is Show Business
05:46
William Clotworthy on working onT his is Show Business
02:39

You Bet Your Life

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on You Bet Your Life
01:57

Your Hit Parade

View Show Page
William Clotworthy on representing client American Tobacco in television shows Robert Montgomery Presents, Your Hit Parade, and This is Show Business
05:46
William Clotworthy on remotes and the popularity of Your Hit Parade
03:06
Topics

Anthology Drama

View Topic
William Clotworthy on working on Robert Montgomery Presents
02:17
William Clotworthy on the format of General Electric Theater, produced by William Frye
07:31

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
William Clotworthy on language he was allowed to use in an episode of General Electric Theater that he wrote, dealing with therapeutic abortion
03:04
William Clotworthy on joining Standards & Practices at NBC
07:58
William Clotworthy on the importance of context for Standards and Practices; on censorship on Saturday Night Live
28:12
William Clotworthy on his style as a Standards Executive for Saturday Night Live
00:56
William Clotworthy on how standards changed from the '70s to '90s
02:18

Dwight D. Eisenhower

View Topic
William Clotworthy on the 1952 political campaign and BBDO representing the Republican party - Eisenhower; on how they got Ike to wear makeup
06:44

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
William Clotworthy on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:24

Minorities

View Topic
William Clotworthy on working with Garrett Morris on Saturday Night Live
01:21

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
William Clotworthy on working on Robert Montgomery Presents
02:17
William Clotworthy on the format of General Electric Theater, produced by William Frye
07:31

Television Industry

View Topic
William Clotworthy on language he was allowed to use in an episode of General Electric Theater that he wrote, dealing with therapeutic abortion
03:04
Professions

Television Executive

View Profession
William Clotworthy on joining Standards & Practices at NBC
07:58
Genres

Commercials

View Genre
William Clotworthy on commercials for American Tobacco
01:29
William Clotworthy on the Lucky Strike bulls eye
01:30
William Clotworthy on the 1952 political campaign and BBDO representing the Republican party - Eisenhower; on how they got Ike to wear makeup
06:44
William Clotworthy on loving radio commercials
01:09
William Clotworthy on memorable TV commercials on which he worked
01:33

Late Night

View Genre
William Clotworthy on doing Standards and Practices for Saturday Night Live; on drug humor, pressure from outside groups, and a typical work week
23:45
William Clotworthy on Saturday Night Live' s production schedule, Lorne Michaels, and the cast of the show
27:33
William Clotworthy on working with cast members of Saturday Night Live
16:29
People

Red Barber

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on baseball announcers in the early days of TV
01:02

Jack Benny

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on The Jack Benny Program
01:00
William Clotworthy on working on the premiere of The Jack Benny Program with Ben Hogan as guest
01:30

Milton Berle

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working on Texaco Star Theater while he was an NBC page
01:53
William Clotworthy on Lorne Michaels' belief that Milton Berle was the worst host of all time on Saturday Night Live
00:31

Steven Bochco

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on Steven Bochco having trouble with Standards and Practices
00:32

David Bowie

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on David Bowie appearing on Saturday Night Live
00:53

Geraldine Brooks

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on language he was allowed to use in an episode of General Electric Theater that he wrote, dealing with therapeutic abortion
03:04

Abe Burrows

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on T his is Show Business
02:39

Dana Carvey

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live
00:36

Dorothy Collins

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the Lucky Strike bulls eye
01:30

Bing Crosby

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Bing Crosby
04:54

Billy Crystal

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Dick Ebersol bringing new talent to Saturday Night Live
01:26
William Clotworthy on working with Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live
00:12

Robert Culp

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on less than ideal hosts on Saturday Night Live
00:24

Jane Curtin

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
00:52

Jean Doumanian

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
01:56
William Clotworthy on Jean Doumanian bringing in less than ideal hosts on Saturday Night Live
00:53
William Clotworthy on the season that Jean Doumanian ran Saturday Night Live
01:12

Dick Ebersol

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
01:56
William Clotworthy on Brandon Tartikoff bringing Dick Ebersol in to run Saturday Night Live
01:26

Faye Emerson

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on T his is Show Business
02:39

Norman Felton

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with director Norman Felton on Robert Montgomery Presents
01:14

Arlene Francis

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on T his is Show Business
02:39

Al Franken

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on drug humor and Al Franken on Saturday Night Live
00:52
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
02:07
William Clotworthy on working with Al Franken
00:36

William Frye

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the format of General Electric Theater, produced by William Frye
01:11

Mary Gross

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Mary Gross on Saturday Night Live
00:55

Phil Hartman

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live
01:08

Ben Hogan

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on the premiere of The Jack Benny Program with Ben Hogan as guest
01:30

Earl Holliman

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on language he was allowed to use in an episode of General Electric Theater that he wrote, dealing with therapeutic abortion
03:04

Bob Hope

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on a Bob Hope drug joke on Saturday Night Live
01:28

Danny Kaye

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on The Danny Kaye Show
00:52

Tim Kazurinsky

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Tim Kazurinsky on Saturday Night Live
01:08

David Letterman

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on a controversial joke by David Letterman
01:08

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Saturday Night Live
01:35

Jon Lovitz

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live
01:13

Irving Mansfield

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on T his is Show Business
02:39

Steve Martin

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live
01:13

Groucho Marx

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on You Bet Your Life
01:57

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
02:07
William Clotworthy on a typical work week at Saturday Night Live
03:39
William Clotworthy on Lorne Michaels
06:25
William Clotworthy on Lorne Michaels tribute to him when Cloworthy left Saturday Night Live
01:47

Dennis Miller

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on a typical work week at Saturday Night Live
00:49
William Clotworthy on Lorne Michaels tribute to him when Cloworthy left Saturday Night Live
01:47

Robert Montgomery

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working on Robert Montgomery Presents
02:17

Garrett Morris

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with Garrett Morris on Saturday Night Live
01:21

Eddie Murphy

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Brandon Tartikoff bringing Dick Ebersol in to run Saturday Night Live
01:26
William Clotworthy on working with Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live
01:30

Bill Murray

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
00:52
William Clotworthy on arguing with Lorne Michaels over the "Nerds Nativity" sketch on Saturday Night Live
03:10
William Clotworthy on working with Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live
00:56
William Clotworthy on Bill Murray's eulogy for Gilda Radner
01:21

Mike Myers

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Mike Myers on Saturday Night Live
00:24

Conrad Nagel

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Eisenhower not liking television
03:39

Laraine Newman

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
00:52
William Clotworthy on working with Laraine Newman on Saturday Night Live
00:47

Sheree North

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Sheree North's dance on General Electric Theater
00:36

Michael O'Donoghue

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
01:56

Don Pardo

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with Don Pardo on Saturday Night Live
01:24

Arthur Penn

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with floor managers Bud Yorkin and Arthur Penn on Robert Montgomery Presents
01:14

Joe Piscopo

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on working with Joe Piscopo on Saturday Night Live
00:34

Richard Pryor

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on doing Standards and Practices for Saturday Night Live
00:20

Gilda Radner

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on the people he worked with on Saturday Night Live
00:52
William Clotworthy on arguing with Lorne Michaels over the "Nerds Nativity" sketch on Saturday Night Live
03:10
William Clotworthy on working with Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live
02:34

Ronald Reagan

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on representing advertisers on General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
06:20
William Clotworthy on his friendship with Ronald Reagan
01:05

Don Rickles

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on memorable guest hosts and performers on Saturday Night Live
01:08

Charles Rocket

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Charles Rocket and censorship on Saturday Night Live when Rocket swore live on air
03:08

Herbert Sargent

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on a typical work week at Saturday Night Live
00:49
William Clotworthy on working with Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live
01:13
William Clotworthy on Lorne Michaels tribute to him when Cloworthy left Saturday Night Live
01:47

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on NBC President David Sarnoff
00:11

Vin Scully

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on baseball announcers in the early days of TV
01:02

Martin Short

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Dick Ebersol bringing new talent to Saturday Night Live
01:26
William Clotworthy on working with Martin Short on Saturday Night Live
00:55

Brandon Tartikoff

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Brandon Tartikoff bringing Dick Ebersol in to run Saturday Night Live
01:26
William Clotworthy on he, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Brandon Tartikoff having the same birthday - January 13th
00:16

Arturo Toscanini

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on shuttling messages for Toscanini while he was an NBC page
00:11

Jack Webb

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on General Electric True with Jack Webb
00:36

Robin Williams

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on memorable guest hosts and performers on Saturday Night Live
01:08

David L. Wolper

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with David Wolper
00:09

Bob Wright

View Person Page
William Clotworthy on Bob Wright's opinion of Standards & Practices
00:35

Bud Yorkin

View Interview Page
William Clotworthy on working with floor managers Bud Yorkin and Arthur Penn on Robert Montgomery Presents
01:14

All Interviews

Q
S