Opinion: TV memories, Part II
Here’s Part II of my favorite TV moments in 35 years. It seems like yesterday that I was standing in front of a camera with no clue where to look or what to say. Wait, that was yesterday.
Most embarrassed I have ever been
In 1988, I had the rare opportunity to interview Cyd Charisse, a beautiful and leggy dance partner of Fred Astaire. My producer told me that Ms. Charisse was travelling the country and her tour was sponsored by Underalls — at least that’s what I thought she said. I knew Underalls was a brand of pantyhose, so this made perfect sense to me. Ms. Charisse answered all my questions, but neglected to mention her sponsor. I decided to help her out.
“Well, Ms. Charisse, I’m sure that Underalls is very proud to have as their spokesperson a woman known for her beautiful legs.”
“I’m sure they would be, but my sponsor is Inderal, the drug I take for my crippling arthritis.”
One of my favorite moments
I was interviewing a panel of young men who, as the result of motorcycle accidents, had endured traumatic head injuries. One of the panelists, Jay, had short-term memory loss. To compensate for this, he jotted down notes throughout the interview on a mini yellow legal pad so he could keep track of the questions and answers. Sitting next to Jay was another patient named John. Throughout the show I confused their names, often addressing Jay as John and vice versa. After making this mistake for the fourth time, Jay broke out in a big grin and said…
“Dick, would you like to borrow my pad?”
Funniest thing my wife ever said after a show
Almost 35 years ago, I did a segment in Columbus, Ohio, about couples who swing. This wasn’t dancing. These were married folks who switched partners. When I got home, my wife told me how impressed she was with the guests.
“You were impressed?” I asked, jaw dropping.
“Yes. We can’t even find a couple to go to the movies with.”
My biggest thrill
In l982 I interviewed my idol, Steve Allen. He was talking about the great comics of the silent era: “Chaplin was my favorite, but where do you find people of that ilk any more?” asked Allen, rhetorically.
“You could join the Ilk’s Club,” I suggested, realizing this was a totally rotten pun…but one that Allen might have made himself.
Steve Allen cackled, as only Steve Allen could. I had made my hero laugh and I hadn’t even started a bucket list yet.
My best pun
In the late 70s, I was hosting Good Morning, New York. I had the opportunity to interview boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Because he was doing 7-Up commercials at the time, I asked him if he would mind autographing a 2-liter bottle I picked up on the way to the studio.
“But, Dick,” he said, “this is a regular 7-Up bottle. I just do the Diet 7-Up commercials.”
“Okay, then, could you sign it ‘Sugar-Free Ray Leonard?’”
Absolute dumbest question I ever asked
I was at a pet shop in Anderson, Ind., where the owner kept a six-foot-long alligator in a huge tank. When I arrived at the store, I was amused to see that the alligator had on a Channel 8 t-shirt, with his front legs stuck through the arm holes. After a few basic questions about the reptile, I asked: “So, Luke, can anyone get in the tank with the alligator?”
“No, Dick, the alligator put the T-shirt on himself.”