On January 20, 1980 Mary McCarthy, never known to mince words in print or in person, was asked on Dick Cavett's PBS talk show whom she considered overrated writers. After a moment's thought, Lillian Hellman came to her mind.
Whenever performers -- such as Mary Bridget Davies in A Night With Janis Joplin, at the Lyceum -- impersonate iconic figures, they're going to be compared to the original, whether they like it or not. They certainly can't be surprised when they are.
But for some, for many just a bit older than I, there was really real programming in the form of The Dick Cavett Show: live television that featured the great literary and cultural personalities of the time.
I feel as if I've been denied the opportunity to mourn Mr. Gandolfini in an uncomplicated way. Instead, I have to think of the enduring, insidious bigotry that that actor may well have represented and that at least two memorials -- one spoken, the other written -- have made impossible to ignore.
Stoliar's storied tenure as Groucho Marx's secretary is tempered with highs and lows, bookended by the psychotic Erin Fleming -- Groucho's young and mercurial life manager and companion who hitched her wagon to the star in his declining years.
The late '60s had its share of momentous events: Nixon attaining the presidency; the manned moon landing; and most important of all, Dick Cavett interviewing the 78-year-old, and still blisteringly funny, Groucho Marx on his late-night TV show.
He was neither the first nor last intellectual jailed for heretical writings, and in some respects he proved lucky: Governments and other powers have a longstanding habit of killing thinkers whose ideas threaten the status quo.
Vidal had no self-doubt. He used his legendary intellect in the service of opinions that drew blood. Feuds thrilled him. And he never lost the swagger that comes from knowing that -- at least in his youth -- he was a stunner. Want a guided tour?
At the ripe age of either 98 (per Wikipedia) or 100 (per his faded driver's license), Professor Irwin Corey, "The World's Foremost Authority," is still a man of many words, usually multisyllabic and unintelligible.
When Elaine Kaufman died last December 3, she left a city of broken hearts. For months, "Elaine's" lingered on, a nostalgic haven for "regulars," but many still had to admit, Elaine's was simply not the same without Elaine.
I love Dick Cavett. He's a brilliant, irreverent thinker with a uniquely dry, sardonic, sarcastic wit and deadpan delivery. Qualities that make for a terrific writer, humorist and interviewer, but unfortunately not a United States president.