May 7, 2013

People don't die on a television show

Posted on Sunday on Futility Closet:
During an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971, publisher and organic gardening advocate J.I. Rodale boasted, “I’m in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way.” When Cavett’s next guest, New York Post columnist Pete Hamill, joined them on the couch, Rodale made a snoring sound. Hamill told Cavett, “This looks bad.”

“The audience laughed at that. I didn’t, because I knew Rodale was dead,” Cavett wrote later in the New York Times. “To this day, I don’t know how I knew. I thought, ‘Good God, I’m in charge here. What do I do?’ Next thing I knew I was holding his wrist, thinking, I don’t know anything about what a wrist is supposed to feel like.”

Rodale had died of a heart attack. The episode was never aired.
I'll admit that I was skeptical. Futility Closet is usually very reliable, though, so I went hunting to remove any doubt in my head.

Turns out it's entirely true - at least according to Dick Cavett who should certainly know. He's told the story on radio shows...

...written an op-ed in the New York Times about it...

...and Wikipedia has most of the details...

...but Cavett's never released the footage...not online, not on air, never.

He did, however, successfully avoided telling a joke when looking to get Mr Rodale some medical attention. Dick Cavett, ever professional.

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