Thursday, July 20, 2006
Cavalcade of Cavett
Jim and I are about halfway through viewing the "Dick Cavett Show--Comic Legends" DVD's, and that plus the foregoing sad news has inspired a spate of Cavett-Googling this afternoon. So besides the Comic Legends and Rock Icons, here are some other Cavett-related cultural milestones of the 1970's:
- Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox stormed off a December, 1970 Dick Cavett Show, enraged by football player Jim Brown's use of the word "bigots" to describe his constituency. Cavett was interviewed by radio station WNYC upon Maddox's death in 2003:
DICK CAVETT: Lester, also, I think I must have revealed somewhere since then was winking at me with his upstage eye -- which takes a certain amount of knowledge of camera and -- the way you would at somebody you're trying to say I'm just kidding but I don't want the other people here to know that I am.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Really!
DICK CAVETT: Yeah. And I also-- pointed out that Lester, being a politician, and a canny one, knew to -knowing the value of television time - walked off a scant 88 minutes into a 90 minute show.
- Here's an SNL transcript where Dick is the Stage Manager in the play "Our Town," except the town is New York City in 1976:
[sfx: woman's bloodcurdling screams] Well, I reckon that's old Mrs. Grossman getting raped and strangled in the alley. You probably wonderin' why I don't call the cops. Well, for one thing, the phone in that booth over there hasn't worked since Dewey was governor. And for another, that's how we do things here in Our Town, we tend not to get involved, you know...sorta let people go about their business. Like, uh, Rafer Jones over there. Good ol' Rafer, we- we just let him go about his business. Gosh, he's been pushing junk on this corner for more years than I care to remember. [calling off camera] Mornin' Ray!
- And last, but the opposite of least, here is a transcript of the June 30, 1971 broadcast of the Dick Cavett Show with a debate between John Kerry of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and John O'Neill of Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. These two would renew their feud during the 2004 presidential race: O'Neill was one of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the author of the anti-Kerry tome "Unfit for Command."
Rather than post a quote from Kerry or O'Neill, what really caught my attention about that last one is the viewer mail that Cavett read on the air in response to a previous show on Vietnam vets:
Yes, as you've divined by my heavy-handed inference, "It's Deja Vu all over again." Only now, the response would be online, accessible the next day by a link that would say, "601 Comments."
Another lady writes, "This war began as a political war and continues so today with our men not allowed to fight and not backed by the full power nuclear of the nation. The horror of this futile and therefore immoral effort was written in their words" – meaning the men who were here – "and on their faces these two nights. How more just it would have been to spotlight the real villains, McNamara, Gilpatrick, Rostow, et cetera, the whiz kids so aptly indicted by Lieutenant Kerry in testimony before the Fulbright committee."
In another part of the letter she says, "I was filled with incredible revulsion watching this charade. Not revolted by these four men who gave service to their country, but by your exploitation of their futile position. How does it feel to be a latter-day Madame Lafarge? How long will you sit there and knit while your country's head is on the block?"
"Your show against Vietnam soldiers is a perfect example of your workers' bias and also of your New York audience. I know what Mr. Agnew is talking about."