Dick Cavett on guest who died during his talk show

Legendary Broadcaster Dick Cavett On Who Died During His Talk Show
Legendary Broadcaster Dick Cavett On Who Died During His Talk Show

Dick Cavett had a lot of memorable moments as host of The Tonight Show and his own Dick Cavett Show, but one episode that sticks out is when one of his guest died ... on air.

His guest Jerome Rodale -- also known as J.I. Rodale -- was known as an extreme advocate for sustainable agriculture and organic farming. He died of a heart attack on Cavett's couch while New York Post columnist Pete Hamill was being interviewed.

As he was talking to Hamill, he heard a loud snoring sound. Cavett explains, "That was a death on camera -- we weren't live, obviously. The show didn't air." That doesn't stop people from asking and talking about it. He adds, "In one of my New York Times blogs I wrote last year, once a month now, someone comes up to me and says, 'I'll never forget the look on your face when that guy croaked on your show,' and I'll say, 'You were in the audience?' 'No.' It never aired. I must have described it so brilliantly."

"It was a horrible thing that happened, and the audience thought it was part of the show because when you're at a show, whatever you see is part of the show," Cavett says. "When a light falls and kills someone, it's part of the show."

Cavett's supposed response then he heard the snorting noise? "Are we boring you Mr. Rodale?" At least that's how legend has it -- Cavett says he doesn't know if that's true and he'd have to look at it again, but it's difficult to watch. He says, "The staff couldn't look at it for a while, and when we did, we were stunned -- and all had forgotten -- that he said in it, 'I plan to live to be 100' at one point. And one thing you never want to hear or say: 'I've never felt better in my life.'"