Monday, July 30, 2007

I'll have a colortini, please.

Tom Snyder is dead.

I saw him once in Los Angeles, at the dog park at Mulholland and Laurel Canyon.

I saw him amble by with a large, ancient English Sheepdog, and I said out loud to a few dog park acquaintances standing nearby, “Hey, that’s Tom Snyder.”

No one knew who that was.

I supposed that to them he was just some tall, old schlubby guy wearing a corduroy sports jacket and hard-soled shoes to the dog park.

Okay, sure. But he was also the guy in the 70s, that guy with the hair that was ten different shades of brown and two different shades of gray who went toe-to-toe with Charles Manson without looking like he was about to piss himself. He was simultaneously self-deprecating and so completely full of himself that you would’ve changed the channel if it didn’t mean you’d have to get up and cross the room and find those pliers that you had to use since the knob busted. He wasn’t afraid of anyone that I ever saw, from Ayn Rand to Jimmy Hoffa to Johnny Rotten. He loved his job, and he was good at it. And he didn’t care how high or drunk you were, he was going to get an interview out of you, goddamn it, ha ha ha ha ha!

Poor old Tom. Some guys would look back at his career and be proud. I always got the feeling that Tom Snyder, finally forced into retirement by the network suits, just wanted to keep working, and that part of him couldn’t believe that no one wanted to watch him do that anymore.


Michael said...

Now there's a man I would stay up late every night to watch. Network TV is far less a thing for having put him to pasture.

Skylers Dad said...

He was a great interviewer, and I can't place the exact moment I lost track of him. It wasn't one of those, oh god they canceled his show moments...

He just sort of faded away for me.

Larry Jones said...

Jeez -- Tom Snyder, Ingmar Bergman and Bill Walsh, all on the same day. Now I really feel like I've lived too long.

Johnny Yen said...

I remember that interview with Manson, in the summer of 1981. I was living with my parents that summer, about to transfer to a downstate school. My folks were out of town on vacation, so my brothers and I invited a bunch of friends over to watch the interview (and drink beer). The interview totally deflated Manson as a menace-- he came across as a dim-witted piece of white trash. I wondered how pathetic his followers must have been to find him charasmatic.

I saw Dan Ackroyd's spoof of Snyder before I ever actually ever saw Snyder on television. The first time I did see him, I roared with laughter-- Ackroyd's impression of him was spot on.

Snyder could be quite the idiot. About 5 or 6 years ago, I saw him interviewing the author Isabel Allende. Tom prefaced a question with something about Allende's "father, the murderous Chilean dictator, Salvador Allende..." Ms. Allende tersely responded that no, the "murderous Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet" had actually killed her uncle, the democratically-elected President of Chile, Dr. Salvador Allende.

There's a dvd of some of Snyder's mmoments, including his uproarious interview with the Sex Pistols.

Bubs said...

Great tribute to Mr. Snyder.

I remember living in my first apartment, in 1980/81, and watching Tom Snyder almost every night. Your comment about the pliers and the busted knob on the b&w TV were dead on.

mrgumby2u said...

I'm not being fippant or anything, but those few seconds of Manson in the clip, his tone, his mannerisms, his belligerence, reminded me of nobody so much as George W. Bush.

'Bubbles' said...

Snyder was indeed full of himself! I remember that right about the time that I watched his show regularly Carson was also going through an arrogant phase. My mom and I would laugh after the news and say we were going to watch a few hours of blow-hard TV!

Loved the line about the pliers on the TV knob. Remember having to stand there and try to move the knob about a milimeter so that the picture would clear up? How about the first remote from Zenith (we didn't have one, but I babysat where they did) It had little tuning fork things inside that mechanical buttons moved... wierd.

Thanks for the memories - that was fun!