The logo for his show was groovy, but he was often not. Dick Cavett lacked Johnny Carson's shtick and spark, but he managed to interview some of the biggest music stars of their time and make them feel at ease. Today is his birthday, and I've been celebrating by watching a bunch of video clips from his 1970s talk show. Actually, a talk show hosted by Cavett has existed in one form or another for four decades now and is currently running on Turner Classic Movies, but it's his ABC version that ran from 1969 to the mid-70s that most people associate him with. Even though he was a bit before my time, I'm familiar with the interviews he did with John Lennon, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. Never before have I seen such a mild mannered host conversing with these cool cats, and they usually seemed too happy to oblige. Joplin, in particular, seems to have been a favorite of his, appearing on his prime time show three times.
Here's some memorable clips from his programs...
The bemused members of ABBA attempting to sing "Don't Fence Me In" with Cavett's prodding.
The best line in this Jimi Hendrix clip is the last one:
Gloria Swanson sharing the same space as Janis Joplin. She wants "to do" Cavett's head:
Gina Lollobrigida steals interview time away from Woody Allen and Ruth Gordon, neither of who appear very happy about it:
Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal have a bad case of the bitchies. Even the rock stars didn't behave this badly. Have to say this is remarkably respectful compared to on-air feuds today.