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Dick Cavett's Most Memorable Guests | Big Think

May 30, 2024
Question: Who was your favorite guest? Dick Cavett: I have to say Groucho meant the

most

to me. I missed it as a kid, I grew up on the game show, my generation, my father's generation grew up on the Marx Brother movies and then, You Bet Your Life, but I was the other way around. And one time we were in Hollywood, when I was a kid, about 10, visiting relatives and the farmers' market. I bought a chicken leg at one of those stands and the lady said, "Hey, kid, you should have been here like two minutes ago, Groucho Marx was right where you are.
dick cavett s most memorable guests big think
And I thought, "There's no God. There is no God, or I wouldn't have let myself pee or stopped doing something I did, if it hadn't been for me getting here two minutes early and meeting Groucho Marx." But I met him many years later, and for quite a few years, so it was nice I once left a party, went to the movies with him, I can't believe it, went to plays with him, had dinner at his house and worked for him for two weeks once. He really didn't care much about Hollywood society or anything. actors. He loved writers, he loved hanging out with writers, he was a born writer.
dick cavett s most memorable guests big think

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And one time, leaving a party in California, he said, "Let's get out of here," and he ran away and the hostess came up and said: "Well, Groucho, are you leaving so soon?" He said, "I had a wonderful evening, but it wasn't this one." Anyway, there you are. Question: How were you getting along with Bobby Fischer? Dick Cavett: Bobby Fischer, the chess artist, yes. I got along very well, I

think

I loved Bobby Fischer, he was such a sweet guy and a diametrically complete contrast to the horror he became with the paranoid schizophrenia and the messy hair and when they took away his hair. fillings because he thought that bad guys were sending messages to his head.
dick cavett s most memorable guests big think
He went completely crazy and I wish I had known when he could have been on the verge of insanity, he would have found him and tried to help him or get him to something, no one tried to give him any therapy or anything he needed. , I don't know. I just lost contact with him and the next thing I knew it was all over, virtually. He was brilliant on the show, he had a great sense of humor on the show and he was obviously a genius and he obviously had certain sides of him that weren't developed, because his life was chess.
dick cavett s most memorable guests big think
Sometimes he would stay up all night and the next day, with everything he knew, studying chess, studying more chess, old chess, chess from other countries, he was the sad case of a man with an apparently fragile mental condition who fell into The madness. . But I sure liked him and I wish I had called him and gone to the movies with him or something, because the time came when he would just do my show, he didn't like other people he was with, he said, and he did it three or four times before and after the game. Question: What was John Lennon like?
Dick Cavett: He was unlike anything, he was unique. I always wanted to hear someone say that and I chose you as the victim. I liked John, I didn't get to know him very much. Al

most

all of the time I spent with him was on the show, but also a couple more meetings and I'm still looking for two long letters that he wrote to me and I met him, of course, when I went down to the courthouse that we see. on Law and Order to speak out, to say that he should not be deported. I didn't have the wit to say the president should do it, but it kind of came later, so it's okay.
But he's a very smart guy and very available. Very approachable, easy to talk to when you first met him, it was that old thing, you felt like you'd known him for a long time, that kind of thing. Question: What about Orson Welles? Dick Cavett: What about Orson Wells? Oh, there's no way to cover Orson Wells, and this is not a joke about him weighing about 400 pounds when he died, but dream talk show guest, of course, I still have a letter from a woman who says: "Thank you". "Thank you, Mr. Cavett, for bringing Orson Wells back to his American audience." And I didn't see Citizen Kane until I was in college somehow, and of course I knew who Wells was from a lot of other things.
I saw him do King Leer on stage at City Center in New York and he was a great, great guest. And a tragic figure too. It's funny how two great theater artists like Wells and Brando became morbidly obese, and if there is a category beyond morbid obesity, they both became that. I would love to know what the combination was, what the connection between them might have been. In part it was a blatant disregard for his professions. But it's too complex for my mind to understand. Question: Is it true that someone died on your show? Dick Cavett: Die on the show?
What are you talking about? Yes. I

think

I'm the only talk show host, if there is such a category in what's called the record book, where a guest dies while we're taping the show, yes. And of course, if the gods were going to exercise their sense of humor as usual and make a guess die on a talk show, he'd have to be a health expert, and he was. It was Jay I. Rodale, Rodale Press, Prevention Magazine, all those, that publishing industry, and he was very funny for half an hour, bringing up the next assumption, Pete Hammel, Hammel talking about writing his column and this and that, and then Hammel suddenly turned to his right, and the audience at home, if the show had ever aired, but the audience in the studio heard, shit and they cut away and Rodale was having a massive heart attack.
Question: Do you think his difficult questions influenced this? Dick Cavett: Yes, it was, and there's always an aspect of sick humor to these things. We watched the show, of course it didn't air, it happened almost two hours before air time, so they included it in the show, but, as I wrote about it in one of the blogs, at least every month I meet someone . that says, "I'll never forget the look on your face when that guy died on your show." And of course, they never saw it, but they were able to pass a lie detector test that they took.
I don't know if I described it so brilliantly the next night, it was all over the papers, of course, and people just demonstrate the value of eyewitnesses. That there are people who could pass a polygraph and who saw this.

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