Edit
Dick Cavett Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (16) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Gibbon, Nebraska, USA
Birth NameRichard Alva Cavett
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Yale-educated Dick Cavett established his reputation as the most erudite of American talk show hosts in the late 1960s and early '70s. Although there were many contenders who took on Johnny Carson, the undisputed heavyweight champion of late-night TV, Cavett generally was considered the most successful of the pretenders to Carson's throne. There were many challengers, and Carson vanquished them all, most notably Joey Bishop, Jerry Lewis and Merv Griffin (who moved his talk show to afternoons and syndication after it was canceled by CBS in 1972 after a three-year run on the network).

Cavett's late-night talk show, The Dick Cavett Show (1968), ran on ABC, from 1968 to 1974, and then for an additional year on CBS. (He has since appeared on numerous other talk show gigs into the 21st Century.) Thought it ranked third in ratings behind Carson (perpetually #1 for all the years he headlined his own show) and Griffin in 1969-72, he was the most respected of the Carson-wannabes. Cavett was famous for attracting guests who normally did not appear on talk shows, such as Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and the post-"Godfather" Marlon Brando, who used his time on the "Dick Cavett Show" to talk about Indians rights with Native American spokespeople Cavett allowed to share Brando's forum. The reticent Brando praised Cavett for being the best.

"The King of Late Night" and the highest-paid television personality of his time, Johnny Carson eventually crushed even Dick Cavett. Ironically, Cavett was born in Nebraska and was an aspiring amateur magician, as was fellow Cornhusker Carson, for whom Cavett worked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) as a writer after having broken in to the business in a similar capacity for Jack Paar, Carson's predecessor on "The Tonight Show."

He was born Richard Alva Cavett on November 19, 1936, in Gibbon, Nebraska, the son of two educators. After spending his childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska, he matriculated at Yale, where he first experienced the debilitating depression caused by bipolar disorder that would plague him though his adult life. He switched his major at Yale to drama and, upon graduating, made the rounds of casting agents, as did his first wife, the actress Carrie Nye whom he married in 1964 and remained married to for 42 years, until her death.

At 5'3" tall, Cavett was too short to be a success at anything but character parts, but even those were not forthcoming. In addition to his writing for Paar and Carson (and a high-priced staff writing gig on the notoriously unsuccessful The Jerry Lewis Show (1963) in 1963, after which he returned to Carson after Lewis bombed and was canceled), Cavett launched a career as a stand-up comic, possibly influenced by Woody Allen, whom he discovered for Paar (his title on Jack Paar's "Tonight Show" was ("talent coordinator").

An American treasure, Dick Cavett now writes regularly for "The New York Times." In November 2010, he had married for the second time, tying the knot with writer Martha Rogers in New Orleans.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Martha Rogers, Ph.D. (October 2010 - present)
Carrie Nye (4 June 1964 - 14 July 2006) (her death)

Trade Mark (1)

Distinctive raspy, gravelly voice

Trivia (17)

Born at 1:24am-CST
Was an actor in army training films.
Was a talent coordinator, and later writer, for Jack Paar's TV show. Appeared many times on talk shows as a stand-up comic.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 99. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Early in his career he applied to be an page at NBC's Rockefeller Center studio in New York City but was turned down.
Suffered from manic-depressive disorder, since his freshman year at Yale University.
Grew up in Lincoln, NE.
Was a gymnast when he was younger.
The Phil Silvers Show: Bilko's Godson (1959) was his first appearance on TV. During an recent interview he recalled how during a break in the shooting, he approached Phil Silvers and said, "I know there's no way you'd remember, but I saw you in ['the Broadway show] 'Top Banana' and went backstage and you gave me an autographed picture." And without a moment's hesitation Silvers replied "What's the deal, kid, you here to give it back?".
Announced November 9, 2010, on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show with Don Imus, that he had married Martha Rogers "about a week ago in New Orleans".
Appeared in the 1964 US Army "Big Picture" film, "Thayer of West Point" as a cadet enumerating the new rules that Superintendent Thayer was implementing, such as no valets or other servants to be employed by cadets.
Inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1991.
Insisted that his surname is technically pronounced "CAY-vit"/"cave-it", not as commonly "Cav-vet".
He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Annie Hall (1977) and Forrest Gump (1994).
The Dick Cavett Show (1968) aired on five networks for over 35 years: (1) ABC daytime (March 4, 1968-January 24, 1969) (originally titled "This Morning"); (2) ABC prime time (May 26-September 19, 1969); (3) ABC late night (December 29, 1969-January 1, 1975); (4) CBS prime time (August 16-September 6, 1975); (5) PBS (October 10, 1977-October 8, 1982); (6) USA prime time (September 30, 1985-September 23, 1986); (7) ABC late night (September 23-December 30, 1986)' (8) CNBC (April 17, 1989-January 26, 1996).
Jimmy Fallon wrote the foreword to Cavett's book "Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks" which was published in 2014.
Though they graduated one year apart from one another, he and Sandy Dennis attended the same high school in Lincoln, NE, and were in plays together.

Personal Quotes (16)

Anyone who steals another comic's material should be sentenced for life to reading Aristophanes to the O.J. [O.J. Simpson] jury.
I'm perplexed when people adopt the modish abbreviation "Ms.," which doesn't abbreviate anything except common sense.
There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
[on Stu Hample] He was a great appreciator of comedy. He was an extremely funny man. He could be funny in a good stand-up comedy way in your living room. or walking across the park. And he had a prodigious memory for comic literature and could quote whole routines--with the accuracy they deserved.
[on being a talk-show host] It's a wonderful job for people who have never had a nervous breakdown and have always wanted one.
I never missed a Jack Paar show until I made my ludicrously ballsy move and got myself hired by him. I was a copy boy for "Time" magazine, and someone left "The Herald Tribune" open on the copy boy desk, and I read Marie Torre's column about Jack Paar. It said he worried more about his monologue than anything else. So I went home and typed one up, then took it to the bowels of the RCA Building and sneaked up to NBC. Of course, if there was security like there is now, I'd never be here today . . . So here comes Jack Paar, walking out of the men's room, and I had the wits to put the monologue in a "Time" magazine envelope, and that caught his eye. I hand it to him. "I wrote a monologue for you, Mr. Paar". "'Oh yeah?" he says. And I think that's that for my monologue. But that night he ad-libbed three of my lines on the show.
[on writing for Johnny Carson] I was a starving actor. And I wanted to be a comic, I thought vaguely. But most of all, I wanted to be on a talk show--as a guest--and even if I'd done it only once, I could go back to Nebraska and say, "I made it", just like Johnny, who left Nebraska 12 years before me . . . There were sides of Johnny that I didn't know. But I know he was one of the unhappiest men in the world. But he loved me, so I felt good about him . . . Oh, God, he had a wretched mother. One time Johnny wins some great prestigious award, and she says, "I guess they know what they're doing" . . . She never encouraged him. And when I worked for him, there was an awful lot of tension. He was like a wire, a tight wire . . . And he had a wife on the ledge, and drinking troubles. His happiest hour was when he was out there on the set, and the rest of his life was really horrible.
I remember being in a play once, and there were just 30 minutes left, and I thought, "I don't want this ever to end". It's like being in a protective womb for a couple hours, then the poor actor has to go home.
[about interviewing George Harrison] I remember saying to him, "Yoko Ono sat in that chair". And he knew to jump out of it, horrified. And by the end of the show, he was as interesting as anyone I had met. If you can convince them that you're not going to hurt them, that security led people to say, "I've never felt this good on a talk show. My God, I don't know how you got me to talk about my abortion". And that was a man.
[on making President Richard Nixon angry] Well, apparently the White House was furious about a show I did with John Kerry and John O'Neill, debating the Vietnam War. That started it. Then, your friend and mine John Lennon asked if I'd come down to court and assert that he should not be deported by the Nixon administration. That really did it . . . You can even go to YouTube after lunch and listen to Nixon asking [H.R. Haldeman], 'What can we do to screw Cavett?' And years later I learned from several members of my staff that he had used one of his favorite illegal hobbies and had the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] audit all of them, which was just hurting "the little people", in the words of Joan Crawford.
At one point, I thought, "I'm not so sure I want to become the poster boy for depression". But I still get mail about it, even today: "You saved my dad's life", "You helped me acknowledge my own depression", "If Cavett can have this, then I guess it's all right for me to" . . . Depression is epidemic because it's still so undiagnosed. And even my analyst made the mistake of saying to me--after I'd told him I wished he knew for a minute what my depression felt like--he said, "Oh, that's all right, I was pretty low when my dad died". I sat up and said, "You think grief is even close to this?". He apologized.
[on writer Paul Keyes] Paul was a devious man with an element of paranoia and a distinctly undesirable streak of just about everything.
[on writer Pat McCormick] Pat was the opposite of Paul Keyes in almost every way. A friendly, wonderful friend and a hilarious man, just as his friend Jonathan Winters was. Pat didn't have a nasty side at all. I saw him get in a fight with a cab driver once, but that doesn't count. Pat said some of the funniest things ever. There were people who didn't find it funny because it seemed mean . . . Humorless people. Pat had a hilarious way of pointing to someone disabled and loudly giggling and getting their attention. You would think they'd be offended, but they'd see Pat McCormick's big, friendly, babylike face and laugh. Sometimes [writer David Lloyd] and I didn't want the risk and we would try and distract him if a nun was coming toward us. One day a guy wearing a heavy iron leg brace came clunking along toward us. David tried to distract Pat. It wasn't so much that we didn't want someone's feelings hurt, it was that we were weak from laughing at Pat! The man with the clunking leg brace walked by and then out of incredible odds came another man with a clunking leg brace totally unrelated. Pat asked him, "Is this the way to the FDR rummage sale?"
[on writer Pat McCormick] If you ever got into an elevator with Pat you had to prepare yourself to sink to the floor with laughter, whether it was loudly farting or just some hilarious remark. I remember seeing [writer] David Lloyd off to Europe. He was a nervous wreck with his small children and he was just in pieces, hoping everything was okay, holding papers, dropping them all over the place, standing at the dock. They were headed toward [an] official. Pat came along and said, "Hey, the make-up covered up your kids' measles just great!" David was not amused.
[on Jack Douglas] He wrote for Jack Paar way before I got there. Yeah. He wrote some of the funniest things I had ever heard. [Reiko Douglas] was his Japanese bride and he brought her on [The Jack Paar Tonight Show (1957)] in total Japanese geisha outfit. She sat down and Jack Paar, who had a tendency to condescend slightly to foreign people said, "Reiko . . . what. have. you. been. doing. in. America?" Reiko, with this exquisite face, says, "Photographing military installations".
[on writer Walter Kempley] I liked Walt Kempley. I started appearing on television--which must have killed Paul Keyes. Walter took me aside one day and said, "Hey, kid, I'm real proud of you." Something Keyes would never have done. Jack Paar told me that Kempley owed him $1000 and he never paid it back. Bob Howard was a splendid guy. Bob had been a Bob Hope writer. He told me that when the war ended Hope went crazy because he no longer had soldier audiences, the only place he could get a big crowd that turned him on.

Salary (1)

The Merv Griffin Show (1962) $460 / week

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page