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Jim Henson and Muppets’ 1971 appearance on ‘The Dick Cavett Show’ is a sheer delight

On Thanksgiving Day 1971—that would have been November 25—Dick Cavett featured Jim Henson and the Muppets on his ABC talk show. Indeed, they very nearly took the show over. The Muppets had recently become famous through the popular PBS educational program Sesame Street, but Henson wasn’t well known at this time; Cavett and Henson both remark on this. So it’s quite possible that this 90-minute show represented Henson’s proper introduction to the American people.

Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson
For anyone who is fond of the Muppets, the show is simply a delight. Henson is there, as is Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson and Caroll Spinney as the puppeteers and voice actors. More to the point, all of your favorite Sesame Street characters are there, including Kermit, Grover, Ernie & Bert, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, as well as a whole bunch of other ones that are more ad hoc. The gang was there to promote The Muppet Alphabet Album as well as a TV special called The Frog Prince.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Henson and Oz show exactly how modular these puppets are by putting one through his paces (he becomes at least three different characters in just a few moments through the manipulation of eyes and headwear, Mr. Potato-style), this is the video for you. Kermit sings a song in drag (I swear to god this is true); well, just like any true drag queen, Kermit lipsyncs, in this case to Rosemary Clooney’s rendition of Lerner and Loewe’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” from My Fair Lady. Actually, that number turns out to be a little bit gruesome!

Kermit and some of his relatives
We get to meet a few Fraggles and a huge muppet named Thog. The Cookie Monster devours one of Cavett’s boom mics and then says, “The microphones on the Carson show—blech!” Grover tries to read the cue card to segue to an impending commercial but then admits he can’t actually read. My favorite bit of all involves Ernie and Bert. Ernie convinces Bert to talk more like a know-it-all hepcat because after all, they’re not on educational TV anymore, they’ve hit the big time of national TV on ABC! So of course by the time Cavett is ready for them, Ernie has shed his shades and beret and Bert is left looking like an insincere phony, which irks Bert no end. We also get a nice rendition of the “Mahna Mahna” song.

Dick Cavett and Thog
In addition to everything else, Cavett provided Henson with a forum to show off a fair number of his non-Muppet pieces, including “Youth 68” and a handful of Sesame Street shorts. Here’s a rough list of the segments; these are taken from the YouTube “About” sections but I’ve pruned the commercials away from the list:

1. Intro, Dick is comforted by Thog.

2. “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face,” interview with Jim Henson, scenes from The Frog Prince
3. interview with Jim Henson, scenes from The Frog Prince
4. “Mahna Mahna,” more chat with Jim Henson and Muppets, Thog sings “Three Little Fishies”

5. Cookie Monster interview
6. Big Bird sings “Very Special Letter” (about the letter V)

7. Puppeteers interview, P Is My Favorite Letter, Oscar interview

8. Bert and Ernie
9. Grover interview

10. Demonstration of an anything Muppet, Sesame Street inserts, Bossman
11. Kermit Love interview

12. Visual Thinking

13. Jim Henson talks about film editing and shows a scene from Youth 68
14. Jim Henson shows a clip called “Susanne” and a scene from “Time Piece”

15. Glow Worm, Jim Henson talks about how Muppets work

16. Sesame Street merch plug, credits

The episode is broken up into six different videos—we’ve embedded the first, the other five shouldn’t be hard to find.

via Classic Television Showbiz

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sly Stone, totally wasted (and totally amazing) on the Dick Cavett Show
11:35 am


Dick Cavett
Sly Stone

Even a lucid Sly Stone is a marked contrast with the as-patrician-as-a-midwesterner-gets raconteur/columnist Dick Cavett. So when Sly and the Family Stone appeared on a 1971 episode of Cavett’s talk show, and Sly did his post-performance interview blitzed out of his fucking skull, high comedy ensued (no pun). After a killer performance of “I Want to Take You Higher” (too easy, not gonna take it), Stone sat down with an unflappable Cavett for some of the most hilariously groggy repartee in television history.

At one point, Cavett asked a left-field seeming question—though in Stone’s state, any question probably could have seemed a non-sequitur—about music theory. Stone was in fact steeped in theory, and nipped the question in the bud (had to) by channeling his old music teacher David Froelich in an utterly jaw-dropping outburst. Sly’s benumbed appearance can be found on the Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons DVD, but you can watch Cavett and Stone hold their own against one another right here, in magnificent fuzzyvision. The first video is the musical performance, the second is the interview.


Legendarily unreliable drug sponge seeks albino backup band, no weirdos
Muhammad Ali and Sly Stone on the Mike Douglas Show 1974
Wear Something Gold: Sly Stone’s 1974 wedding at Madison Square Garden

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
A young Rex Reed gives his tips for the 1969 Academy Awards
04:09 pm


Dick Cavett
Rex Reed

A young Rex Reed gives his tips for 1969’s Academy Awards on The Dick Cavett Show.

This is classic Rex Reed and encapsulates what is good, bad and brilliant about the eminent film critic and writer.

I like Mr Reed, and admire the quality of some of his journalism, particularly his lively celebrity profiles which kicked-off in the sixties and the seventies that influenced oh so many magazine writers thereafter. I also think Rex has been a large and unacknowledged influence on bloggers, as his film reviews epitomize the essence of what makes for a good blog—sharp, witty, harsh, informative, insightful, and very personal, where material is reviewed through the prism of the writer.

Here Reed begins with some information about the Oscar itself.

“Did you know that an Academy Award only costs $60?

“The actors used to hock them all the time, because as soon as they would win, they’d run out of bread or something and they’d hock the Academy Award.

“But now they’ve made that illegal.

“You can’t hock your Oscar anymore; the Academy will buy it back for $10.”

As for his hot picks, well, Mr. Reed thought Anne of a Thousand Days would win the Oscar for Best Film—though it was his preferred choice Midnight Cowboy that won it, becoming the first “X” rated movie to win an Academy Award.

He also felt Maggie Smith deserved to win Best Actress (she did) though he thought it would be split between Jane Fonda and Liza Minelli.

But it’s the Oscar for Best Actor that disturbed dear Mr. Reed.

“I really have the terrible, lurking, poisonous suspicion that John Wayne will win the Academy Award.”

A nicely piquant hors d’oeuvre to start the evening for tonight’s Academy Awards.

Part II after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones on ‘The Dick Cavett Show,’ 1972
05:30 am


Rolling Stones
Dick Cavett

Rolling Stones 1972 American Tour
The Rolling Stones’ U.S. tour of 1972 was a big fucking deal. Let us count the ways: The Stones had not played live shows in America since the infamous final show of their 1969 tour, at Altamont. The album they were supporting was one of the most epochal in all of rock and roll history, Exile on Main Street—which was released in America just a couple of weeks before the tour. (None of the Beatles’ late albums were supported by touring, keep in mind. Exile was, as were Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed in 1969.) With the Beatles scattered to the winds, the Stones had the pinnacle of rock and roll all to themselves—no coincidence, then, that their sobriquet “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” really began to be a thing around this time. 

This was the tour memorably captured in one of the all-time great rock and roll books, Robert Greenfield’s S.T.P.: A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones. Robert Christgau’s account of one of the NYC shows is worth reading as well. The tour also spawned two documentaries:  that Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones! and the outlaw verité flick Cocksucker Blues.

By this time Mick Jagger had made the crucial transition from “mere” rock frontman and quasi-proto-punk to a bona fide celebrity of the first order. In the 1960s Jagger’s closest peers and pals were John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan; by 1972 he was hanging out with Truman Capote and Hugh Hefner and Zsa Zsa Gabor. (From here, the trajectory to Studio 54 was inevitable.) Not for nothing was the tour nicknamed the “Stones Touring Party”—so much more easygoing than the Hells Angels of Altamont, although Keith Richards did carry around a .38 caliber revolver just in case those same Hells Angels sought retribution. It was simply a massive tour without the element of danger that their (arguably) even more mythic 1969 tour—in other words, tours of this type were becoming standardized. The Stones were the talk of the country and, when they hit Madison Square Garden in late July, the talk of the town. Stevie Wonder was the opening act; how can you beat that?

Capote quit covering the tour in New Orleans and then went on The Tonight Show and The Dick Cavett Show to tell tall tales about it before showing up for the last city of the tour, at Madison Square Garden. Cavett, whose show was on ABC, also received accreditation for the Stones’ appearance in New York, and secured some backstage interviews between the two (!) concerts held on Tuesday, July 25, 1972. An entire episode was dedicated to the Stones that featured substantial interviews with Jagger and Bill Wyman as well as two full songs from the concert. 

You have to give credit to Cavett for his unflappable cool. Whether interviewing the Stones’ adoring fans outside the venue or Jagger himself, Cavett has a knack for putting his subjects at ease. Noteworthy moments from the Stones interview: Cavett inquires what Jagger, a former student at the London School of Economics, for his take on John Maynard Keynes. While chatting with Cavett, Wyman puffs on a “cigarette” that some have insisted was a joint. I can’t tell, but certainly their cheeky repartee about the smoky treat would seem consistent with that interpretation. Later Cavett and Jagger jokingly entertain the engagingly silly notion of Cavett, a Yalie to the bone, joining the Stones onstage to do a rendition of some GIlbert & Sullivan. (This last seems entirely true to Cavett’s preppy essence. I once saw Cavett at the Dave Hill Explosion in New York do a kind of duet with the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano: Gano performed “Blister in the Sun” while Cavett interrupted with verses by Rudyard Kipling.) Most amusingly, Wyman insists that he and the Stones will be retired by the time they reach the age of fifty.

In his studio bits taped later, Cavett treats the event much as a sociologist would, reading lyrics from “Brown Sugar” aloud for the attentive middle-aged midwesterners in the television audience and explaining that the frenzy in the audience was actually “peaceful.” Good for me, because I look at these clips much the same way: so that’s what a Stones concert looks like behind the scenes. It’s terrific footage, although the tape itself is a little muddy.

This playlist has all the essential parts of the show (there is a fifth part not included, but it’s just a couple minutes long and there’s nothing much on it). The first part has Cavett’s interviews with the fans outside. Parts 2 and 3 have an interview with Jagger and Wyman and then Jagger a second time. Part 4 has live performances of “Brown Sugar” and “Street Fighting Man.” Oh, and enjoy the Paul Lynde commercial and that one for Levis that wouldn’t look out of place in Yellow Submarine.

via Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Katherine Hepburn on death, the afterlife and religion on ‘The Dick Cavett Show,’ 1973
01:54 pm


Dick Cavett
Katherine Hepburn

For most of her career, Katharine Hepburn refused to give television interviews. For years Dick Cavett tried to get her on his show, to no avail. Then suddenly, one day in 1973, Hepburn happened to be in the building where his studio was, and decided to check out the set.

Apparently the fiesty 66-year-old actress was feeling chatty that afternoon, because she decided right then and there that she would give Cavett his interview. The host was summoned and without any prep time—or his audience—engaged with Hepburn in the most captivating chat you could ever hope to witness. They spoke for three hours, which was edited down to two shows.

Before things began, Hepburn demanded the set furniture be rearranged, something she was apparently notorious for doing. (“I’ve been in the business so long, I don’t want any complaints from the unions!” she is heard to say).

I was lucky enough to have gotten to see Katherine Hepburn on Broadway in West Side Waltz in 1981. Here’s a particularly good anecdote about her from Playbill’s Judy Samelson:

Let me take you back to 1969. Katharine Hepburn is starring as Chanel in her first and only musical, Coco. Act One ends just as the great designer is about to present her comeback collection to the public. The curtain comes down with a flurry of anticipation. When it rises again for Act Two, the stage is a tumult of overturned chairs, and various accessories on the floor—in short, it looks like a war zone in the aftermath of the show. But the audience is still in the dark. How did it go? Was it a success? Hepburn as Coco rises from where she has been sitting watching the show and walks through the room, surveying the mess. When she reaches the front of the stage, she stops and with great feeling says: SHIT!

As I sat in the darkness of the mezzanine at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, eyes glued to the commanding figure onstage, my ears perked up at the sound of a voice that certainly sounded like hers emanating from below. I thought to myself, “Did she just say what I think she said?” For a moment, time seemed to stop and after an endless split second of silence, my answer arrived in the form of an explosion of laughter, like an enormous tidal wave, starting at the front of the house and crashing past me way up to the balcony.

In his book Tracy and Hepburn, Garson Kanin wrote that he asked Coco’s lyricist and book writer Alan Jay Lerner how he got Hepburn to agree to say the word. Lerner replied: “Easy. She wrote it.”

Kanin then questioned his friend Kate about it and she explained her reasoning. In previous versions of the scene, she said, there had been a lot of expository material explaining that Coco’s fashion how had been a failure. And in a true demonstration of the theory of less is more, Hepburn thought that one very well-placed cuss word would say it all. As she told Kanin, “I needed to start Act Two with a bang.” Mission accomplished.

A few months ago, when it was announced that Miss Hepburn’s theatrical papers had been donated to the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, one of the interesting letters that was quoted in the press coverage concerned this one little four-letter word. Apparently, when Coco was headed to Los Angeles, Hepburn was contractually forbidden to use the profanity. Believing that the loss would ruin the integrity of the scene, she fought for it via a letter to Edwin Lester of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Association, in which she wrote:

First, we have tried everything that anyone can think of to use instead. Nothing works—the sadness—the finality—the clarity and the brevity of this expression coming from the lips of a highly respectable old lady—who is alone—and who is in tears over the total failure of her show—strikes the audience as funny then as she runs up the stairway—curiously gallant.

Who could not be charmed after receiving such a thoughtful plea from the star? Certainly not Lester. He responded that her letter “was sufficient for us to acquiesce, particularly if acquiescence would make you happy.” And he added, “let me tell you how much we are looking forward to your visit with us, even though you bring that naughty word along with you.”

In this snippet from the Cavett interview, Hepburn discusses her attitude on death, the afterlife and religion.

More Katherine Hepburn and Dick Cavett after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara take over ‘The Dick Cavett Show,’ 1970

Invited to discuss their current film Husbands on the Dick Cavett Show in 1970, the three amigos John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara spend the first ten minutes horsing around, amusing each other and the audience, partly because Cavett jokingly described them as “animals” in his introduction. It takes around twelve minutes of such antics before director Cassavetes explains Husbands is a very serious picture about death.

Made over a two year period, Husbands tells the compelling story of three middle-aged men (Falk, Cassavetes, and Gazzara), re-examining their lives after the death of a close friend. After bar-hopping and long subway conversations, the trio decide to take a trip to London, in the hope of finding something long lost, and possibly never possessed.

It’s a love it or loathe it movie and depending on your point of view it’s brilliant, self-indulgent, funny, boring, frustrating, the best or the worst. When I first saw it, I was blown-away. Here was something more like a documentary, centered around three of the greatest improvised performances put on film. I was breathless at their audacity and talent.

Cassavetes wrote the script after improvising scenes with Falk and Gazzara. Falk later described his experience of working with Cassavetes as a director “shooting an actor when he might be unaware the camera was running.”

“You never knew when the camera might be going. And it was never: ‘Stop. Cut. Start again.’ John would walk in the middle of a scene and talk, and though you didn’t realize it, the camera kept going. So I never knew what the hell he was doing. But he ultimately made me, and I think every actor, less self-conscious, less aware of the camera than anybody I’ve ever worked with.”

It’s an amazing piece of cinema, an uncensored slice of life in all its humor, pain, emotion, charm and endless subterfuge.

Back to The Dick Cavett Show: the host does his best to keep the whole interview going (along with a comedy turn from the house band), but after a series of pratfalls, Cavett leaves the set, only for the audience to call him back. It is with Cavett’s return, around 20-minutes in, that the interview finally kicks-off. Falk says the three constantly fought during the making of the film. Then Gazzara talks about the spark between the three actors, before going on to compare Cassavetes with Orson Welles.

Inspired by such adulation, Cassavetes opens-up:

“I happen to think Husbands is a very fine film that has to do with what’s happening today from our point of view, you know, three guys that have lived part of their lives and don’t have their youth to look forward to.”

It takes a while to get there, but if you can sit through the testosterone-fueled antics of three men horsing around, then its worth it.

H/T Tom Ruddock

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
David Bowie’s entire appearance on ‘The Dick Cavett Show’ in 1974
03:35 am


David Bowie
Dick Cavett

As thin as a matchstick with a freshly ignited flame at the tip, David Bowie makes an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in November of 1974. Chatting about Diane Arbus, mime, his wife Angie and his son Zowie, this makes for a fascinating and intimate 30 minutes. Songs get sung, including “1984,” “Young Americans” and “Footstompin’.”

Happy birthday David.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Up Against the Wall’: Grace Slick says ‘f*ck’ on American TV for the first time, 1969

Watch as the Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick becomes the very first person in history to say “fuck” on American television on August 19th, 1969, the day after Woodstock, on The Dick Cavett Show. Slick actually sings “motherfucker” if you want to split hairs.

“We Can Be Together” was the lead-off number on the Airplane’s radical Volunteers album and the B-side for the “Volunteers” single. Due to the group’s unique contract for the times—they had complete artistic control—RCA had to go along with whatever the Jefferson Airplane wanted, including “shit” and “motherfucker” appearing in their lyrics. For the single, the “motherfucker” was mixed low, but not actually bleeped.

The song’s music and lyrics were written by Paul Kantner, inspired by the Black Panther Party’s use of the “Up against the wall, motherfucker” battle cry, itself a phrase 60s activists often heard coming from police and national guardsmen during that tumultuous era.

Apparently Kantner also cribbed some of the lyrics from something called “The Outlaw Page” in the East Village Other underground newspaper, a polemic written by a guy called John Sundstrom, a member of an anarchist/Situationist-inspired Lower East Side-based “street gang with analysis” called the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers [UAW/MF] whose name came from a poem titled “Black People!” by Amiri Baraka. The Motherfuckers, whose unprintable name made them press-proof, were involved with storming the Pentagon, setting up crash pads in New York City for counter culture types and the occupation of Columbia University. Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s stepson, Tom Neumann was an early member.

We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together

Come on all you people standing around
Our life’s too fine to let it die and
We can be together

All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is We

We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall Fred (motherfucker)

I wasn’t able to locate the text of “The Outlaw Page” but some Internet sources claim that the lyrics from “We Can Be Together” are nearly word for word taken from it.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Woody Allen on women
10:54 am


Woody Allen
Dick Cavett

The longtime friendship between Woody Allen and Dick Cavett is well-known and Allen’s appearances on the various incarnations of Cavett’s talkshows in the 70s and early 80s have been highlights of both men’s small screen oeuvres. Woody Allen used to be on TV a LOT, but he was never better than when he had the always witty Cavett as his comic foil.

In the clip below, Cavett and Allen discuss women, not as the title would have you believe, particle physics, although I’m sure they could make that topic funny also…

There are 14 hours of Cavett interviewing comedic legends like Woody Allen, Groucho Marx and Bob Hope (especially interesting because he does the interview straight, not mugging for laughs) in the fascinating DVD box set The Dick Cavett Show - Comic Legends, which is where this clip comes from.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Zabriskie Point Fallout (With Mel Brooks)

A few weeks back, regarding Jacques Demy’s Model Shop, I wrote about my fascination with the great European directors crossing the Atlantic to reign in and make sense of ‘60s America.  Resigning himself to merely making a film called Made In U.S.A., Jean-Luc Godard resisted the impulse.  Michelangelo Antonioni, most spectacularly with Zabriskie Point, did not.
As hatched by a team of writers that included Sam Shepard, and wife of Bernardo Bertolucci, Clare Peploe, the plot of Zabriskie Point wasn’t terribly complex.  Rebel Angelenos (my favorite kind!) Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette (who go, in the film, by their real names), hook up in the desert, have sex in the sand, then separate to meet their own explosive ends.

More complex, though, was the anger and confusion the film provoked at the time.  Typically gorgeous cinematography aside, cineasts looking for a worthy philosophical successor to Blow-Up were left disappointed by Zabriskie’s relatively unnuanced take on capitalism.  Hollywood watchers were appalled that Antonioni squandered so much time and money ($7 million in 1970 dollars) on something that, despite it’s notorious “desert orgy” sequence, managed to rake in barely a million hippie-box-office dollars.

Fortunately, 5 years later, Antonioni secured cinematic redemption with The Passenger.  Daria Halprin acted in only a handful of films, but went on to become, briefly, Mrs. Dennis Hopper.  After her marriage to Hopper fizzled, Halprin developed an interest in art therapy, and now, with her mother, runs Marin County’s Tampala Institute.

The future was far less kind to Mark Frechette.  You can read the Rolling Stone article about his “sorry life and death” here, but the shorthand goes like this:

He was the apparent victim of a bizarre accident in a recreation room at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, where Frechette had been serving a six- to 15-year sentence for his participation in a 1973 Boston bank robbery.

Frechette’s body was discovered by a fellow inmate early on the morning of September 27th pinned beneath a 150-pound set of weights, the bar resting on his throat.  An autopsy revealed he had died of asphyxiation and the official explanation is that the weights slipped from his hands while he was trying to bench press them, killing him instantly.

What the above leaves out, though, is that prior to his incarceration, Frechette was living in a commune run by American cult leader Mel Lyman.  The entirety of Frechette’s Zabriskie earnings were tithed to Lyman’s “Family,” and it’s presumed that whatever money Frechette hoped to abscond with post-robbery would have wound up there as well.

Before all this, though, back when television talk show guests could still indulge in a cigarette, Halprin and Frechette found themselves—along with Mel Brooks and Rex Reed—on The Dick Cavett Show.

As you can watch below, Cavett had yet to see Zabriskie Point—and Frechette makes him pay for it.  In defending Lyman, Frechette also goes on to argue the fine line between “commune,” and “community.”

Trailer for Zabriskie Point: Where A Boy And A Girl Meet And Touch And Blow Their Minds!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
He’s Still the Great Gore Vidal, But Boy Is He Cranky

(Above, Gore Vidal visits “Mary Hartman” (Louise Lasser) in the mental hospital on the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman soap opera)
I have revered Gore Vidal my entire life. He’s a great writer and he’s a great American, perhaps THE great American gadfly amongst men of letters. The older he gets, the more spiteful he becomes about the state of this country. Interviews with Vidal in recent years fall into one of two categories, sometimes they’re terribly amusing, but alarming, other times just alarming. Lately, he’s really letting it rip. He’s 83, why should he pull any punches? In this long interview from London, a cranky Vidal holds forth on the Obama presidency with a jaundiced eye:

Gore Vidal is not only grieving for his own dead circle and his fading life, but for his country. At 83, he has lived through one third of the lifespan of the United States. If anyone incarnates the American century that has ended, it is him. He was America’s greatest essayist, one of its best-selling novelists and the wit at every party. He holidayed with the Kennedys, cruised for men with Tennessee Williams, was urged to run for Congress by Eleanor Roosevelt, co-wrote some of the most iconic Hollywood films, damned US foreign policy from within, sued Truman Capote, got fellated by Jack Kerouac, watched his cousin Al Gore get elected President and still lose the White House, and ?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment