THE DICK CAVETT SHOW-was an 90 minute mixture of talk and variety that ran for six astounding years on late-night prime time television on the ABC-TV network from the first telecast on May 26,1969 to the final episode of the series on August 16,1975. This was at the time one of the most versatile performers who eventually gave us some of the biggest entertainment acts in the history of rock,and went toe to toe with the King of Late Night-Johnny Carson and eventually at the time Merv Griffin for the battle of late night supermacy. However,Dick Cavett was one of the few television personalities ever to star or host major programs in daytime,prime-time,late night,all in quick succession,and it wasn't about his failure to attract a large audience with any of them,which his late night talk show brought in some of the largest ratings ever for ABC at the time,which was well praised and received by the critics that were generally acknowledged to be witty,intelligent,and interesting compared to what was scheduled around them. And this was during his basking in the Nielsen's spotlight during his first five seasons of the show. But what killed it successful late night format was that it was too much of the intelligence that not only did Cavett in,but had him terminated from his job,and his talk show cancelled from ABC. He often hesitated to bring a thought-provoking approach to his audience,not let alone people and also show-biz types and musical figures as guests. It was the viewers,who didn't much care to have their thoughts provoked,but it was Cavett's wit and too much detail in things that did him in.
However,Dick Cavett's late night talk-variety show of the late 1960's and early 1970's were essentially more than talk and music with some singing or special performing guest which Cavett brought on a array of some of the biggest artists ever to perform and two of them deserved special attention at the height of the era:Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin was at the height of her fame when she made two appearances on The Dick Cavett Show. The first was in June 25,1970 and her last appearance on the show was on August 3,1970. The other was Jimi Hendrix,one of the greatest influence artists of the 20th Century,made two appearances of The Dick Cavett Show as well. His appearances,and others on the program came at the time of one of the biggest events ever presented in musical history...WOODSTOCK. The events that were transcribed at WOODSTOCK brought in the ratings,since Dick Cavett was going for a hip-younger audience and it shows here as well. As far as the acts that appeared on The Dick Cavett Show were legendary and it consists of some of the best from the era:Joni Mitchell,Jefferson Airplane,John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Crosby,Stills,Nash & Young(which consists of David Crosby,Graham Nash, Stephen Stills,and Neil Young),Paul Simon,Art Garfunkel,B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone,Tina Turner,Little Richard,Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger(of the Rolling Stones),Sonny and Cher and so many more.
Also during his run,the guests continued to be diverse with some of the most controversial figures ever to appear on television,and Dick Cavett had them on his show. From "Playboy" founder,Hugh M.Hefner,to the most controversial segment ever displayed which appeared in December,1971. Former Governor and White Supermacist Lester Maddox of Georgia walked off the show when challenged on his segregationist views. Guests included national and political figures as well which included at the time newscaster Harry Reasoner,Dr. Christian Bernard, to Rose Kennedy,the mother to President John F. Kennedy. Others included David Frost,David Susskind,Chet Huntley,and one segment included a young man in the audience...John Kerry who was questioning a guest member on Cavett's show about his political views on the Vietnam War. John Kerry appeared on Cavett's show on June 30,1971. Others included political pundit I.F. Stone,maverick Federal Communications Commission member Nicholas Johnson,Security Adviser member G. Gordon Liddy and philosophy professor Paul Weiss,and advise columnist Anne Landers and social commentator Rex Reed.
The others were presented as a series of one-guest shows(which ran for 90 minutes!)which featured some of the best out of Hollywood. One segment had Charlton Heston the first week,and the next week would consist of Groucho Marx,or Jack Benny or for that manner an entire segment which featured Gloria Swanson,George Burns,or Bette Davis. The others consisted of Hollywood heavyweights like Raqhel Welch, Peter Falk,Jack Lemmon,Walter Matthau,Woody Allen,Donald Sutherland, Minnie Pearl,Pearl Bailey,Lou Rawls,and Lloyd Haynes and Richard Harris not to mention sports figures as well including Muhammad Ali to novelist Truman Capote. While the show continue to received excellent reviews,The Dick Cavett Show was suffering in the ratings,and despite viewership decreasing at a alarming rate,and within the show's final season,1974-1975,the show was at the bottom of the ratings pile,and was dethroned by Johnny Carson. However,because of this,ABC pull the plug entirely in 1975,after six seasons. The first five seasons of the show were the best ever(1969-1975). Afterwards,Dick Cavett went on to do another late night talk show format,which lasted one season on CBS,and from there would move his format over to public television,where it would remain for ten years and another two years on a public cable channel.