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Dick Cavett, Take 2: Souvenirs from an Interesting Interview
May 16, 2011  | By Tom Brinkmoeller
 
I interviewed Dick Cavett last month to write a story for TV WORTH WATCHING. You may have read it. You might have liked it. At any event, in our conversation, Cavett provided many wonderful quotes that didn't fit the topic at hand, but were too good to ignore or bury. So here they are...

On the ubiquitousness of the word "awesome" in contemporary language: "However did the young Keats say 'awesome'?"

Cavett worked for one-time Tonight show host Jack Paar. They stayed in contact for years as friends. On the almost-hypnotic effect watching Paar had on some people: "They didn't want to look away for fear of missing a nervous breakdown."

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On Groucho Marx's occasional delayed reactions: "It was interesting to see how he would be impressed after he realized what he'd just said."

On not remembering which of President Franklin Roosevelt's four sons was a guest on the program: "They all were so densely obtuse."

When singer Trini Lopez had told him on the air he was high on life -- then asked Cavett if the sentiment sounded too strange, Cavett answered, "It did, Trini."

Two guests he wishes he had been able to book: Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.

"I blew a wonderful opportunity with Sinatra. We were at the same party with him at Bennett Cerf's. I had to leave early. I didn't try hard enough."

Some time later Cavett called a New Jersey phone number someone had given him that was supposed to be Sinatra's. He said a rough-sounding character answered the phone, and when Cavett told him why he was calling, the guy (Cavett assumes Jersey accent) says, "Frank ain't interested in doing things like that." The phone call ended, and Cavett never had another opportunity to talk to Sinatra again.

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On doing his New York Times Opinionator blog, now in its fourth year: "After I'd written the fourth one, I thought I had run out of subjects for life."

A favorite comment left by a blog reader: After Cavett wrote a story about Piers Morgan, a comment he remembers, and chuckles in sharing, "Die, Die, Dick Cavett and your terrible toupee."

On my doubling the time I promised I would spend interviewing him: "Is my half hour up yet?"

Cavett's Opinionator blog for The New York Times can be read HERE.

 
 
 
 
 
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