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Dick Cavett Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Nov 19, 1936
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

The son of Nebraska schoolteachers, Dick Cavett excelled athletically and scholastically in high school, receiving a scholarship to Yale. Endowed with a deep, resonant voice (which emanated somewhat incongruously from a 5'7" frame), Cavett switched his major from English to Drama in his senior year, thereby winning an RCA scholarship. Upon arriving in New York, he tried and failed to get a job at RCA's broadcast subsidiary NBC, but managed to land a leading role (and a 100-dollar salary) in an Army Signal Corps film after which Cavett took a variety of odd jobs, ranging from store detective to label-typist for a Wall Street firm. While working as a copy boy at Time magazine, he impulsively wrote a two-page monologue for TV talk host [[Performer~P54568~Jack Paar~jackpaar]], then passed his notes along to a bemused [[Performer~P54568~Paar~jackpaar]] at NBC's Radio City headquarters. Thus began Cavett's career as a comedy writer, not only for [[Performer~P54568~Paar~jackpaar]] but for his Tonight Show successor, [[Performer~P11370~Johnny Carson~johnnycarson]]. Encouraged by such showbiz friends as [[Performer~P79388~Woody Allen~woodyallen]] and [[Performer~P46156~Groucho Marx~grouchomarx]], Cavett became a standup comedian. His success in this field led to an offer from ABC to host a daytime talk show in 1968. The following year, he was emceeing a nightly TV chatfest, in direct competition with his old boss [[Performer~P11370~Johnny Carson~johnnycarson]]. Adopting a more erudite, intellectual tone that was the norm in late-night network television of the era, Cavett interviewed such luminaries as [[Performer~P116368~Orson Welles~orsonwelles]], [[Performer~P31873~Katharine Hepburn~katharinehepburn]], [[Performer~P86099~Noël Coward~noëlcoward]], [[Performer~P43826~Alfred Lunt~alfredlunt]] and [[Performer~P24146~Lynn Fontanne~lynnfontanne]], and [[Performer~P161219~Lillian Hellman~lillianhellman]]. A darling of the critics and cognoscenti (not to mention the Emmy Awards committee), Cavett's ratings were low and he was canceled in 1974. Amidst several other projects, he went on to host a daily PBS interview series, which ran from 1977 to 1981, and helmed similar programs on the USA and CNBC cable services into the 1990s. Having never completely abandoned acting, he occasionally appeared in dramatic roles on TV and Broadway, served as a commercial spokesman for a variety of products, and was seen in a handful of films. Cast as "himself," he made fleeting appearances in [[Feature~V2547~Annie Hall~anniehall]] (1977), [[Feature~V126126~Health~health]] (1979), [[Feature~V65125~Nightmare on Elm Street 3~anightmareonelmstreet3:dreamwarriors]] (1987), and [[Feature~V131221~Forrest Gump~forrestgump]] (1994), and was afforded a rare character part as a snooty intellectual in [[Feature~V4624~Beetlejuice~beetlejuice]] (1988). Since 1964, Dick Cavett has been married to actress [[Performer~P53229~Carrie Nye~carrienye]]. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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