Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dick Cavett's "death episode"

On the subject of on-air deaths, my hero Jeffrey Ford writes:
Do you remember the old guy who died while Dick Cavett was interviewing him on TV?
I did not know about that, Jeff, so I looked it up. Thanks! Publisher and organic-farming advocate J.I. Rodale did indeed die on the set of The Dick Cavett Show in 1971. According to the invaluable Snopes website:
While Cavett was discussing politics with journalist Pete Hamill, Rodale's head dropped to his chest and he was heard to let out what sounded like a snore. "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" asked Cavett. There was no response — Rodale was dead. The show was never broadcast.
In the Peter Jackson version of this scene, Cavett's quip would prompt Rodale's ghost to swoop down from the rafters and bellow, "Yes ... bored unto DEATH!"

The Snopes people have a grim but fascinating page devoted to others who died -- or were fatally injured or stricken -- on the air, on camera or onstage. Though several of the deaths involve radio broadcasts, I count only one on-air death of a disc jockey: Jack Spector on WHLI in Garden City, N.Y., in 1994.

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