Tom Snyder

I'll miss him. After Cavett was cancelled in 1975, Tom Snyder was the only antidote to Johnny Carson's, and Letterman's, and Leno's approach of Amusing Ourselves to Death. Yeah, this country needs more starlet interviews and more smirking hosts. I still remember him having Alfred Hitchcock on for an entire show at Halloween to tell ghost stories, at least one of which is still scarred on my brain. I remember him asking John Lennon about what was new in music, and Lennon predicting a big future for a sound we'd never heard called "reggae", and Harlan Ellison complaining that when he handed in a Star Trek movie script in which the universe was destroyed, the studio told him "Not Big Enough!".

As easy as he was to parody, with the laugh, and the cigarettes, and his obvious enthusiasm for talking about sex with Nancy Friday, and the other sins that televised flesh is heir to, you always felt Snyder was sincere in his curiosity. He had an endearing ability to laugh at himself and at celebrity culture, even if more people recognized the parody than had ever seen the show.

The blow-dried haircut was of his era, but he had an old-fashioned broadcaster's sense of hanging out with the old timers like Murrow and Red Barber and the rest of the journeyman. A guy who knew him remembers that Snyder celebrated his first power lunch with the big network brass in 1972 at Cassell's Hamburgers in Koreatown. He never pretended the studio furniture was anything other than foamboard and pretty colors, and for every television actor interview skipped over, there was Harlan Ellison and Ken Kesey and Joan Jett (for men of a certain age, everybody's favorite Girl You Know Would Be Bad For You) and Hitchcock and the Ramones, Sam Ervin, and the rest of the Watergate figures (and on the dark nutball, shudder-provoking side, Charles Manson and Ayn Rand and Timothy Leary).

Harlan Ellison:

Ken Kesey, Jerry Garcia, et al:

The great animator Ward Kimball:

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