Dick Cavett Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Childhood and Early Life
American comedian, talk-show host and television personality Dick Cavett was born Richard Alva Cavett on the 19 November 1936 in Gibbon, Nebraska to Alva Cavett and Erabel Richards. Both his parents were educationalists. Cavett’s mother died of cancer when he was ten years old, and his father later married Dorcas Deland.
Dick Cavett graduated from Lincoln High School. During his time at high school, he was the state president of the student council. He enrolled at Yale University where he studied English and drama, taking part in college drama productions.
Rise to Fame
From 1959, Dick Cavett lived in New York City doing various jobs to support himself. He acted as an extra on The Phil Silvers Show: Bilko’s Godson (1959) which was his first appearance on television. He also worked as a copyboy at Time Magazine as well as a store detective. Around this time, he came into contact with Jack Paar, the host of The Tonight Show. Cavett supplied Paar with jokes and one-liners which led to a position as a talent coordinator on The Tonight Show. His first appearance on the show was in 1961.
Dick Cavett developed into a crucial team member on the Tonight Show, writing jokes for Paar, Johnny Carson and at times, Groucho Marx when he occasionally hosted the show. He became friendly with Marx and also and became friends with Woody Allen. In the mid-1960s, Cavett began performing stand-up comedy at gigs in New York City.
The Dick Cavett Show
Dick Cavett first appeared on the ABC daytime show This Morning (March 1968-January 1969). The name was then changed to The Dick Cavett Show and was moved to prime time three days a week (May-September 1969). In December 1969, The Dick Cavett Show was transferred to the late night time slot. ABC cancelled the show in 1974 and the final airing on ABC late night was on the 1 January 1975.
Cavett then moved to CBS prime time (1975) before moving to PBS (1977-1982). The show was on the USA Network (1985-1986), ABC late night, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between the 22 September and the 30 December 1986 before CNBC (1989-1996) and TCN (2006--2007). Some of the guests Cavett interviewed included Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Hugh Hefner, Marlon Brando, George Harrison, Yoko Ono, Laurence Olivier, Norman Mailer, Anthony Burgess, Katherine Hepburn, and Truman Capote.
President Richard Nixon and his government were angered when Dick Cavett had John Kerry, anti the Vietnam War, and John O’Neill, pro the Vietnam War, debated the conflict on the Dick Cavett Show in June 1971.
As an actor, Dick Cavett has appeared in numerous television productions and films including Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977) and Forrest Gump (1994).
Awards and Achievements
In 1972, Dick Cavett and his producer John Gilroy shared a Primetime Emmy for an Outstanding Variety Series - Talk award for The Dick Cavett Show (1968). In 1974, the pair won another Primetime Emmy: Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement for The Dick Cavett Show.
Cavett also received numerous Primetime Emmy nominations over the years including a nomination in 2010 for an Outstanding Variety Special for Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again (2011). In 1991, Cavett was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
Dick Cavett's first wife was the American actress Carolyn Nye McGeoy. The couple met when they were both students at Yale University and married on the 4 June 1964. They had no children and remained married until McGeoy’s death from lung cancer in 2006. The couple owned Tick Hall in Montauk which was designed by Stanford White. After the house was destroyed by fire in 1997, they rebuilt a replica of the house. In 2003, a documentary film From the Ashes: The Life and Times of Tick Hall was made. Tick Hall was listed on the property market for US$62 million in 2017.
In 2010, Cavett married Martha Rogers.
Diseases and Disabilities
Dick Cavett talks openly about suffering from depression. He has said in interviews that he began struggling with depression in his freshman year at Yale. He was treated for depression. Later, when he started having manic episodes as well, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.