Two more Robin Williams interviews, the first one with Dick Cavett in 1979, the second with David Frost in 1991. At the beginning of the Frost piece, the comic flawlessly recreates an early Shakespeare stand-up bit, “Two Dudes From Santa Monica.”
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Two more Robin Williams interviews, the first one with Dick Cavett in 1979, the second with David Frost in 1991. At the beginning of the Frost piece, the comic flawlessly recreates an early Shakespeare stand-up bit, “Two Dudes From Santa Monica.”
The Frost-Nixon interviews of 1977 were the final word on Watergate figuratively, though not literally. In 1983, Frank Gannon, a former Nixon aide who went on to work as a producer for David Letterman, recorded 30 hours of interviews with his old boss. The tapes, not erased but largely forgotten, have resurfaced on the 40th anniversary of America’s only Presidential resignation. From the Associated Press:
“The segments were culled from more than 30 hours of interviews that Nixon did with former aide Frank Gannon in 1983. The sections on Watergate aired publicly once, on CBS News, before gathering dust at the University of Georgia for more than 30 years.
‘This is as close to what anybody is going to experience to sitting down and having a beer with Nixon, sitting down with him in his living room,’ said Gannon, now a writer and historian in Washington DC.
‘Like him or not, whether you think that his resignation was a tragedy for the nation or that he got out of town one step ahead of the sheriff, he was a human being,’ he said.
Nixon, who died in 1994, had hoped that providing his own narrative would help temper America’s final judgment of him.
Perhaps with that in mind, he didn’t shy away from the tough questions, commenting on everything from the threat of impeachment to the so-called ‘smoking gun’ conversation that included evidence he participated in a Watergate cover-up.
‘This was the final blow, the final nail in the coffin. Although you don’t need another nail if you’re already in the coffin – which we were,’ Nixon said in a segment about the 23 June 1972 tape.
Nixon said when he decided to resign, he faced such strong resistance from his wife that he brought a transcript of the ‘smoking gun’ tape to a family meeting to show her how bad it was.
‘I’m a fighter, I just didn’t want to quit. Also I thought it would be an admission of guilt, which of course it was,’ he said. ‘And, also, I felt it would set a terribly bad precedent for the future.’
The tone of the tapes contrasts with the sometimes adversarial tone of the well-known series of Nixon interviews done in 1977 by British journalist David Frost.”
Muhammad Ali and Clint Eastwood hitting the speed bag for David Frost in 1970. Ali, who was in the midst of his Vietnam Era walkabout, was correct in saying that athletes from earlier periods weren’t as good as the ones of his generation, which wasn’t likely the conventional wisdom at the time.
A vinyl rarity to be sure, here’s the audio of David Frost Talks to Bobby Kennedy, an LP recording of the British host interviewing the Presidential hopeful just prior to the latter’s 1968 assassination. It’s difficult to understand in retrospect why Frost was considered so suspect when he was preparing to interview the post-resignation Richard Nixon in 1977; he had always been deeply involved in American politics of the era, even convincing Nixon to insinuate himself into a high-stakes 1972 Cold War chess match.
Amusing to note that even a deeply thoughtful politician like Kennedy fell for the myth that the “real America” is located in less-urban small towns. Rubbish. We’re all America, each of us.
A very raw Rolling Stones performance of “Sympathy for the Devil” on a David Frost show in 1968. I’ve never read any books about the Stones so I always wondered if this song was inspired by Rasputin’s legend or if Mick Jagger had read Blaise Cendrars’ novel Moravagine, which has a similar storyline. But it actually sprang from Baudelaire and Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. I’m definitely in the minority, but I like Moravagine more than The Master and Margarita. The former cuts me to the core.
When Jane Fonda was interviewed by David Frost more than 40 years ago, she explained the goal of the actor–and of anyone trying to understand consciousness: “If you asked me what’s the one thing in the whole world I would like more than anything else, it’s for even fifty seconds to be able to–pow–be in someone’s head and just see the world through his eyes.”
To that goal, I think we’re still wandering in the Dark Ages, though not everyone agrees. The opening of “The Mental Block,” Michael Hanlon’s Aeon essay about solving the “hard problem”:
“Over there is a bird, in silhouette, standing on a chimney top on the house opposite. It is evening; the sun set about an hour ago and now the sky is an angry, pink-grey, the blatting rain of an hour ago threatening to return. The bird, a crow, is proud (I anthropomorphise). He looks cocksure. If it’s not a he then I’m a Dutchman. He scans this way and that. From his vantage point he must be able to see Land’s End, the nearby ramparts of Cape Cornwall, perhaps the Scillies in the fading light.
What is going on? What is it like to be that bird? Why look this way and that? Why be proud? How can a few ounces of protein, fat, bone and feathers be so sure of itself, as opposed to just being, which is what most matter does?
Old questions, but good ones. Rocks are not proud, stars are not nervous. Look further than my bird and you see a universe of rocks and gas, ice and vacuum. A multiverse, perhaps, of bewildering possibility. From the spatially average vantage point in our little cosmos you would barely, with human eyes alone, be able to see anything at all; perhaps only the grey smudge of a distant galaxy in a void of black ink. Most of what is is hardly there, let alone proud, strutting, cock-of-the-chimney-top on an unseasonably cold Cornish evening.
We live in an odd place and an odd time, amid things that know that they exist and that can reflect upon that, even in the dimmest, most birdlike way. And this needs more explaining than we are at present willing to give it. The question of how the brain produces the feeling of subjective experience, the so-called ‘hard problem.’ is a conundrum so intractable that one scientist I know refuses even to discuss it at the dinner table. Another, the British psychologist Stuart Sutherland, declared in 1989 that ‘nothing worth reading has been written on it’. For long periods, it is as if science gives up on the subject in disgust. But the hard problem is back in the news, and a growing number of scientists believe that they have consciousness, if not licked, then at least in their sights.”
Garry Kasparov is a real-life John Henry, having been felled by the steam-powered hammer of IBM’s Deep Blue. He was the chess king as we were being dethroned by automation, as computers came to rule games–and other things. Kasparov now dabbles in Putin-punching and writing. I’m glad he does the former and wish he would do more of the latter. He’s a very gifted writer.
Below is a recent interview about chess and politics the just-departed David Frost did with the chess champ.
I know I said I would stop, but there is one more interview from David Frost’s 1970 book, The Americans, that I want to excerpt. It’s an exchange about privacy the host had with Ramsey Clark, the noted Department of Justice lawyer. At the outset of this segment, Clark is commenting about wiretapping, though he broadens his remarks to regard privacy in general:
[It’s] an immense waste, an immoral sort of thing.
Immoral in what sense?
Well, immoral in the sense that government has to be fair. Government has to concede the dignity of its citizens. If the government can’t protect its citizens with fairness, we’re in real trouble, aren’t we? And it’s always ironic to me that those who urge wiretapping strongest won’t give more money for police salaries to bring real professionalism and real excellence to law enforcement, which is so essential to our safety.
They want an easy way, they want a cheap way. They want a way that demeans the integrity of the individual, of all of our citizens. We can’t overlook the capabilities of our technology. We can destroy privacy, we really can. We have techniques now–and we’re only on the threshold of discovery–that can permeate brick walls three feet thick.
How? What sorts of things?
You can take a laser beam and you put it on a resonant surface within the room, and you can pick up any vibration in that room, any sound within that room, from half a mile away.
I think that’s terrifying.
You know, we can do it with sound and lights, in other words, visual-audio invasion of privacy is possible, and if we really worked at it with the technology that we have, in a few years we could destroy privacy as we know it.
Privacy is pretty hard to retain anyway in a mass society, a highly urbanized society, and if we don’t discipline ourselves now to traditions of privacy and to traditions of the integrity of the individual, we can have a generation of youngsters quite soon that won’t know what it meant because it wasn’t here when they came.•
One final interview excerpt from The Americans, the 1970 book by David Frost which also gave us the Jon Voight and Ralph Nader pieces. Here’s an exchange in which the TV host and the author and politician Clare Boothe Luce talk about the future of marriage in the U.S.:
Do you think marriage will change, Clare?
Clare Boothe Luce:
Oh, I think it’s changing very rapidly, yes. In some states in the Union now there are definite proposals that marriage should be contractual over a period of time, like any other human engagement. And they’re proposing in some states that marriage contracts should automatically dissolve at periods, say, of ten years, when the children presumably are grown.
I think that the reasons for this are, first and most importantly, that ours is now a very mobile world. And people move around very fast. The old traditions, all of them, religion, all the rest of them, seem to be collapsing. One out of every three marriages today ends in divorce.
And there is a drive now to legalize that thing, so that there’ll be no more divorce trials, and no more struggles over alimony. Simply that people marry, and the union dissolves every ten years.
Now as a Catholic and a Christian, I deplore this. But this seems what is likely to happen. And another thing too, we’ve got to remember that the life span has been greatly lengthened, and that people now live to be eighty. Women outlive the men. In the old days, not a hundred years ago, you go into a New England graveyard and you’ll see on the gravestone, over and over again, ‘Here lies John Jones and his first wife, Mary, and his second wife, Jean, and his third wife, Kate. A man wore out three women, of course, that was before they conquered childbirth fever.
Now women outlive men, according to statistics, by five years. So any kind of Christian marriage, normal marriage, will probably last fifty years. And it’s highly debatable how many people there are in the world who aren’t sick to death of one another after twenty, no less fifty.•
Ralph Nader was a bothersome man, and that was useful when Americans began being called “consumers” rather than “citizens.” He did a great deal of good, alerting his neighbors to all manner of corporate abuses, which were planned and executed according to a playbook. Nader pointed out that corporations, which were definitely not people, were hellbent on gypping us and endangering us in the name of profits, and it made him one of the most important Americans of his generation, a town crier for the advertising age.
Some worried that Nader would be corrupted by the power, but that never happened. His fall occurred for a strange yet simple reason: He told himself a lie, and he believed it. Perhaps he’d been working too long with black and white and not enough gray, but during his 2000 Presidential campaign, he began marketing the lie: That the two major American political parties were exactly alike and nothing would be different regardless of who was elected. Some “consumers” bought in. And when you look back on it, you know that Al Gore wouldn’t have been precisely the same President as George W. Bush, that he likely wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, which cost us 5,000 Americans and maybe 100,000 Iraqis. It was Nader who helped remove those people’s safety belts. It’s a shame for them and their families, and for all of us as well, because we really could use a Ralph Nader right about now.
• • • • •
I’ve made it clear before that I don’t believe children should be admitted to fast-food restaurants any more than they’re allowed to patronize bars or purchase cigarettes. Ronald McDonald and the Wendy’s Girl are really no different than Joe Camel. They’re all there to lure a young demographic to addictive behaviors, disease and death.
From the 1970 David Frost book, The Americans, a passage in which the host and Nader engage in a discussion on children’s food:
One of your main worries at the moment is baby food, isn’t it?
Yes. Here’s an illustration. The leading companies in the industry are putting monosodium glutamate in baby food. That’s to enhance the flavor, so to speak. They’re putting in salt and sugar. But for whose taste? For the benefit of the mother, because the infant does not have taste discrimination. But if the mother likes the taste she will purchase the product and feed it to the infant.
It just so happens that not only do these ingredients cost more, but they have no nutritional value. And they may be potentially harmful, particularly to infants who have hypertension tendencies, as they develop later in life. And they don’t need them at all.
Do you know how easy it would be to have these baby-food manufacturers delete these ingredients from baby food? All it would take would be about three or four thousand letters from mothers around the country saying in no uncertain terms that they do want to purchase baby food on the basis of how nutritious it is for the infant. And it could change.
The consumers have a voice, they really have a part, if they will only speak up. You’ve got to develop a consumer power organized around things like the food industry, automobiles, insurance, telephone services, all these other industries, in order to develop the voice of the consumer.
You’ve said consumer power. As the years have gone by, you’ve been proved right, again and again. But you’ve also got more and more power yourself. Power to influence, at least. Doe sit ever worry you that power will corrupt you in any way?
No. Because it doesn’t amount to a whit. It just amount to talking. You tell people that frankfurters are filled with fat up to thirty-five or forty percent; you tell them that their appliances are wearing out; tell them that their cars are coming out with more average defects–thirty-two per car in tested cars by Consumer Reports last year. You tell them that–
Thirty-two defects per car?
Thirty-two defects per car. You tell them that there are illegal interest charges all over the country, being charged, and they’re concerned. But they don’t do much about it. They’re pretty complacent. They just sit an watch television.”
Jon Voight is at least two things in life: a racist a-hole and a brilliant actor. In the aftermath of David Frost’s death, when I was done sitting shiva, I got my hands on a copy of The Americans, a book of transcribed interviews from the TV presenter’s conversations with prominent U.S. citizens. (If you’re interested, there are quite a few 1¢ used copies at Amazon.) It features talks with all manner of accomplished Americans: Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Clare Booth Luce, Helen Hayes, Johnny Carson, Dennis Hopper, James Baldwin, etc. I think my favorite one is with Voight. In one exchange, he explains how he readied himself for Midnight Cowboy and responded to its astounding success. An excerpt:
How long did you prepare yourself for the part in Midnight Cowboy?
I had read the book about five years earlier, so I just was sitting around thinking about it for a long time. It was probably the only part I really wanted to do. I turned down an awful lot of things. But finally when we got to it, and they gave me the role, we had a couple weeks’ preproduction shooting in New York. I had a week with a voice coach in New York, fellow by the name of J.B. Smith who did a lot of accents. And then I went down to Texas and I spent a week in Texas. And then when I came back, we rehearsed it for fourteen or eleven days, and then started shooting.
How much of you is there in the character in Midnight Cowboy?
I really don’t know. I think it’s very easy for me to be Joe Buck. It’s almost more comfortable for me to be Joe Buck now than it is for me to be me. I like him a lot. But he goes on his own steam, as a character does when it takes off.
What kind of experiences did you have in Texas?
Well, I did very cliché things in a way. I’d say, ‘I’m going out tonight to a bar, and I’m going to sit there and talk with the people.’ Now they have liquor bars in Texas, and then they have beer bars, and I went to a beer bar. And I sat there, and there was one guy sitting there, and somebody listening to the jukebox, and me. And I’m waiting for a conversation to start up so I can just maybe get into the accent a little bit. And half an hour goes by, and he doesn’t say anything. And we’re nodding to the music and tapping out a few things and looking at each other. ‘I’ll have another beer, please.’ He looks up at me. Like we had some kind of thing going. I don’t know what it was.
And then finally I said, ‘You in cattle?’ He said, ‘Oil.’
Yeah. ‘Oil.’ ‘Oil, oh.’ ‘Yeah.’ Another half hour.
It was like that. I mean it was a whole night like that, see. And it was funny. We talked about the water.
I said, ‘The water’s hard here in this part of Texas.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s good for your second teeth, though.’
And then I went to a boot shop and worked there with a bunch of people, and I really got to love them.They knew that I was an actor in town and some of the local characters would stop by the boot shop in Stanton, Texas. They were terrific guys. They’d be these old guys that’d come in. They have nothing to do, see, and they’re just sitting by the drugstore up the street. And they’d come in and say something about the weather. They say, ‘The wind’s down.’
I can’t really represent them properly because they make jokes about the wind, and they’d come in with a little thing they had to say. And it was really sweet. Really nice people. And I talked with this fellow by the name of Otis Williams, who was maybe nearly seventy. He used to be a bronc buster in the rodeo. We talked for long periods of time, and he wanted me to go to a rodeo with him, and I wanted to go, but I knew that we had to leave shortly, and I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it. I found out later that he’d gotten tickets for me, and really was excited about the fact that I might go, and I feel kind of disappointed that I didn’t. Anyway, I was leaving that day, and I said, ‘Well, Otis, I’ll see you, I’m gonna go. You know, maybe I’ll be back in New York. Maybe I’ll come up and see the rodeo. I’d like to. But, you know, if I don’t, it’s been real good talking.’ So I walked out of the store, and I’m getting in my car. And Otis comes out of the shop with his saddle, and he’s walking away. And it’s like he wanted to say goodbye, because he probably knew that I wasn’t going to see him again, right?
So I walked over toward the car, and Otis walked this way and said, ‘Yep.’ And he looked at me and I said, ‘Yep.’ And we stood there for a long time. And he’s looking and trying to think of something nice to say. And I didn’t know what to say either, but here we were along in the street of this old ghost town of a place, this old cowboy and me. And I’m standing there, and he finally looks up and says. ‘There’s a lot of good horseflesh up there.’
It was really touching.
And good for your second teeth, too. Jon, what’s it been like after the fantastic success of Midnight Cowboy? You’ve become a sort of youth-sex, or sex-youth, symbol? Did the reaction knock you out when it first happened?
I suffered a lot of different reactions. When something like that hits, it hits very heavily for me. I was really unprepared for it. A lot of things happened. Like when I walk down the street, and somebody knows the work and understands it and likes Joe Buck maybe as much as I like him says, ‘Hey, terrific!’ And he walks on. That’s a great feeling.
I came in today to check something, and I walked out front, and a bus driver was driving by, and he said, ‘Hey, Joe! How you doing?’ I said, ‘Terrific!’ That kind of acceptance is really a nice thing to feel. But I’m an actor, and I feel that I have to keep trying other characters. Maybe Joe’s the only one I’ll ever feel that I ever fulfilled. But I just have to keep going and keep trying other things and getting interested in other things and trying to make those things work. I’ll succeed and I’ll fail and I’ll fool around a little bit.
You said something about when the movie first hit you almost wanted to hide.
Yeah, I did. I didn’t know what I could follow it with it was so big. I almost didn’t want to follow it. It says so many nice things that I really like, and it’s so powerful a movie. It’s like I want to take a break for a while. But I also want to prove that I’m fallible too. I was thinking of going back on the stage right away and just test my stage legs again. Somebody said, ‘Why don’t you do Streetcar, but I’m not right for it in many ways. I could build up to it, like I built up to Cowboy, and have a lot of fun doing it. I thought, why not? And then I thought, well, somebody’s going to say, ‘There he is. That’s Jon Voight. He’s a fifth-rate Marlon Brando’ And I’m going to say, ‘Hey! Wait a minute. Third-rate!’
“Where’s that Joe Buck?”:
The opening of a 1968 Life magazine portrait of David Frost at 28, an enfant terrible and empire builder:
“There is more for England to fret about than the pound, the loss of empire and the damnable decision of her fashion arbiters to lengthen skirts almost to the ankle. There is also the young man sunk in the ultramodern chair on the preceding page, surrounded by barbed quotes from his new book, The English (Stein and Day), which he wrote with Antony Jay.
There are many influential Britons who feel that the most charitable solution to the question What to Do about David Frost? would be simply the stuff him and put him on display at Madame Tussaud’s where all the other really famous people are. As Britain’s most obtrusive TV personality. David would not mind being there, actually, but not quite yet.
London newspaper columnists these days are demanding his scalp with headlines like THE PERIL DAVID FROST REPRESENTS and stories underneath that say, ‘Is he conducting an entertainment or a public pillory?’ The London Evening News said, ‘Mr. Frost seems to have taken upon himself the role of public inquisitor, and his program reminds one of the Court of the Star Chamber.’ Still another paper complained that the Frost show was becoming a supplementary house of Parliament.
In seven short years since he left Cambridge, David Frost has become the sometime conscience of his country, a provocateur extraordinaire, a cunning and ferociously ambitious preacher’s boy who at 28 has built out of discomfort a show-business empire that has taken over Great Britain and is reaching across the Atlantic to the U.S.”
David Frost was mocked as a lightweight outsider by mainstream media when in 1977 he purchased an interview with Richard Nixon, especially excoriated by Mike Wallace the week before it was to air. But he ultimately checkmated the disgraced former President in a contest that was even higher stakes than Fischer-Spassky.
From a colorful Hollywood Reporter essay about the colorful Frost by former girlfriend Caroline Cushing Graham, who was with him during the momentous interviews and was played by Rebecca Hall in the Ron Howard adaptation of Peter Morgan’s play:
In 1975 David and I traveled to Florida for a series of The Guinness Book of World Record shows he hosted. One was about the fattest man, the sword swallower, and another about a post office built for small people. The human bomb blew himself up for the camera, he had added an extra stick of dynamite to impress David. We were impressed and horrified by the effort – that was a typical Frost program.
In February 1977 David asked me to come to Beverly Hills, where he was preparing for the historic interviews with Richard Nixon. At the time there was anxiety and money needed, and ads to be sold to pay for the cable TV channel airing the interviews. In the Beverly Hilton, a group of famous journalists were researching questions with David, along with our good friend and advisor Clay Felker, founder of New York and New West magazines.
David worked himself to the bone in Beverly Hills, with a painful root canal emergency done a few days before the Laguna Beach interviews. I accompanied David with the team down south to Laguna, he did not drive, contrary to the Frost/Nixon movie. As David prepared to interview Richard Nixon, I made the sandwiches for their lunch. When the last days’ interview was over, there were 28 hours of interviews, Nixon invited us for drinks at the Western White House. Diane Sawyer accompanied us to a private room for cocktails. Nixon asked me if I liked good wine, as he was proud of his cellar. Driving away that evening I felt sorry for Nixon, he was so lonely and we were going to a party at Ma Maison, where Sammy Kahn was performing.
Nixon had said to David, as we posed for a photograph with him: “Marry that girl, she lives in Monte Carlo.” David laughed at Nixon’s remark and it became a standing joke between us – he used it in his book I Gave Them a Sword. As we returned to Beverly Hills David was anxious to meet with his team and get their reaction to the interviews before we went out to dinner.”•
From a later Frost special for the Guinness Book of World Records:
Five years before the world-gripping Frost-Nixon interviews, the recently deceased David Frost contacted Henry Kissinger to ask him if he could help convince the ever-enigmatic Bobby Fischer to compete in the World Chess Championship in Iceland. The resulting Fischer-Spassky matches became legend. An excerpt from the declassified transcript of the Frost-Kissinger call (which is still censored to a degree):
I was calling you, A, to greet you and, B, I’ve had three calls this morning about a hilarious diplomatic matter that I just wanted to ask you whether you thought it was worth anyone at the White House, from yourself down, as it were, doing anything about. It’s an extraordinary story. Can I tell you about it?
It’s about America’s gist to the world of chess — Bobby Fishcer. I got to know him when he appeared on my show. He came to the party in Bermuda and so on.
Now the question is, is it worth someone doing that?
Yeah, I’ll do it. I do all the nutty things around here. Where is he?
Well, now, I’ve got two phone numbers. Now unfortunately,…he is staying at the moment with a Mr. Fred Saidy who is a Broadway writer of things like Brigadoon. And his son is a grand master in chess. S-A-I-D-Y in Douglaston Long Island. And the man who knows…
I think if I call him I should just call him and tell him a foreign policy point of view I hope the hell he gets over there.”
David Frost was a jester until he was a king. After that, he was somewhere in between but always closer to royalty than risible. The Frost-Nixon interview saw to that. The storied journalist just passed away from a heart attack at 74. Here’s a collection of all the posts on the site about him.
Tags: David Frost
Part of an 1969 interview David Frost conducted with Truman Capote, who was already four years into a long decline, having published his masterpiece, In Cold Blood, in 1965, after a long struggle, with cycles of celebrity, scandal, addiction and rehab awaiting him. When I was a small child, I was taking a bus trip with my parents from the Port Authority, and we saw Capote seated on the benches, wearing a big straw hat, wasted out of his mind. He was trying to get a homeless woman to talk to him. She had no interest.
Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, who just passed away, in a brief on-air spat with David Front in 1985 during the Falklands War. Thatcher, an iron-fisted conservative and the European parallel to Ronald Reagan, was often derided for being cruel to have-nots. She is not warmly remembered in her country while Reagan largely is in his. What does that say? Anything?
In 1974, David Frost interviewed football coach Brian Clough, who had just had a tempestuous 44-day reign in charge of Leeds United. The video is most notable because the great Michael Sheen has portrayed both subjects, the interviewer in Frost/Nixon and the interviewee in The Damned United.
David Frost just did an interview with Craig Venter, the biologist who was the subject of Wil S. Hylton’s excellent 2012 New York Times Magazine profile.
Orson Welles discussing fortune tellers’ secrets during a 1970 appearance on David Frost’s chat show. He opined on the same topic three years in a Playboy Interview.
I’ve posted a couple of clips of John Lennon and Yoko Ono being interviewed by David Frost, but here is the full-length version of their 1972 encounter. Brace yourself–there’s a “Box of Smile.”
Maybe you’ve all seen this before, but I hadn’t. It’s an interview with RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan that David Frost conducted before the murderer’s sixth parole hearing. (He’s now been denied 14 times.) Alistair Cooke, who was in the main ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when the assassination was committed, provides the introduction. I normally have a problem with murderers being interviewed on-screen–were televised Charles Manson Q&A’s beneficial to humanity in any way?–but I can understand if it’s a political assassin. I would certainly take a look if there was video of John Wilkes Booth trying to explain himself.
Tags: David Frost
Mike Wallace was as good a TV interviewer as there ever was, though some of his work was done for shock value. His passive-aggressive 1979 takedown of Ayatollah Khomeini was one for the ages, but the To Catch a Predator-level of network trash that sprang from his ambush journalism is also part of his legacy. To his credit, Wallace knew he had crossed a line with the candid camera tricks and retreated into what he did best, which was looking into the eyes of other human beings, some of whom had titanic egos, and asking that question.
A legendary non-60 Minutes interview was his exchange with Ray Bradbury the night men landed on the moon:
One of Wallace’s failures was his sanctimonius dismissal of David Frost in 1977, just before the broadcast of the latter’s damning Nixon interviews, an example of checkbook journalism that paid off handsomely: