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August 12, 2006



Great clip. When I was in high school in the mid-60s, I discovered Douglas's show, which would come on at 4:30 pm. I remember the asterisks that decorated his set. On one of his early shows, Mike's flight was delayed coming back to Cleveland so he called his next-door neighbor, an insurance salesman, to host the show for the first twenty minutes until Mike came in wearing an overcoat and carrying a suitcase and took over. TV was still relatively young, and shows were that informal.

He was so utterly square, he was radical. As the obituaries noted, he would have all these counterculture guests and mix them with old-timey showbiz types, so you'd have the singer Jerry Vale talking to Yippie Jerry Rubin and somehow finding common ground -- and even if they didn't, nobody argued. This was pre-Culture Wars, and out of the same eclectic tradition that allowed Ed Sullivan to bring on the Rolling Stones after the Catskills comedian Myron Cohen or pair the Beatles with the English music hall star Tessie O'Shea and the Italian mouse puppet Topo Gigio.

What the obits I saw didn't mention was that Douglas had a surprisingly good singing voice. He was very easy to take. "Variety" shows, like vaudeville, are only a memory now.


My mom was one of the housewives who always watched his show, so I did, too. Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin! They were very popular with Mom, as was Dick Cavett and the Galloping Gourmet. I haven't thought of these names in years!

Jimmy Beck

Kick ass! I wonder if it's too late for Tom Waits to start drinking again...

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