Monday, July 30, 2007
Tom Snyder (1936-2007)
Broadcasting legend Tom Snyder has succumbed to leukemia at the age of 71. His eccentric, one-of-a-kind interviewing style, parodied so brilliantly by Dan Aykroyd on the original Saturday Night Live, is much missed on television today. His one-on-one audience-free interviews were often the best in the business on NBC's Tomorrow, which ran after The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson from 1973-1982.
Even when things got out of control with guests such as KISS or Wendy O. Williams, Snyder always was fun, often conducting his interviews through a fog of cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, after an ill-fated teaming with gossip columnist Rona Barrett, Tomorrow was canceled to make way for Late Night With David Letterman and Snyder returned to local news.
He got an interview show back on the fledgling CNBC in the early 1990s that offered more of the one-on-one interviewing TV sorely lacks. (Larry King doesn't count anymore since he's become old and doddering and had his once interesting style destroyed by the increasingly irrelevant CNN.)
In one of the great punchlines on top of punchlines, an episode of The Larry Sanders Show had Larry trying to find someone to host a show after his and he got Letterman to say he was tapping Snyder, so Sanders steals him, though they find no proof that Letterman was telling the truth. Ironically, he was because Letterman really gave Snyder his own CBS show The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder which ran from 1995-1999.
Snyder will be missed. RIP.
To read Tom Shales on Tom Snyder, click here.