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Monday, July 30, 2007
Tom Snyder 1936-2007
Tom Snyder passed away last night from complications of leukemia. Here's what Steve Gorman for Reuters had to say:
"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran talk show host Tom Snyder, whose idiosyncratic interviewing style bemused and annoyed late-night TV viewers, has died after a long battle with leukemia, associates said on Monday. He was 71.
The former host of NBC's "Tomorrow" show and CBS' "The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder" died on Sunday evening at his home in San Francisco, said his longtime agent and lawyer Ed Hookstratten.
"Tom was a true broadcaster, a rare thing," said Peter Lassally, executive producer of Snyder's CBS show, in a statement released by the network. "When he was on the air, he made the camera disappear. It was just you and him, in a room together, having a talk."
Snyder gained national fame for hosting "Tomorrow" in NBC's post-"Tonight Show" slot from 1973 to 1982, with some of his more memorable guests including former Beatle John Lennon, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and convicted killer Charles Manson.
But a quirky on-air presence -- including frequent digressions about his personal life and the habit of laughing gustily at his own jokes shared with an unseen crew -- made him as much the center of attention as his interview subjects.
Seated cigarette in hand on a simple, darkened set adorned with just two chairs, Snyder's catch phrase for the show was: "Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air."
Alternately pompous and self-deprecating, his style transfixed some viewers, irritated others and was famously captured by comedian Dan Aykroyd's impersonation of Snyder on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
According to the Web site IMDB.com, Snyder has conceded that one of the most embarrassing moments of his career came when he realized 10 minutes into an interview with rock singer Meat Loaf that he had been calling him "Meatball."
At the height of his run, Snyder reportedly was considered a possible future anchor of the NBC Nightly News or a likely successor to Johnny Carson to host "The Tonight Show." But a reformatting of "Tomorrow" in the early 1980s failed to catch on, and the program was canceled in 1982.
Snyder returned to late-night television in 1995 to host "The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder" on CBS, following David Letterman's "Late Show" until 1999.
Snyder announced on his Web site about two years ago that he had been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia but said his doctors had assured him that his condition was treatable and "nothing to worry about." Snyder had quit smoking about five years previously.
Snyder was born in Milwaukee and began his broadcasting career as a local radio reporter before moving into television and anchoring local newscasts in Philadelphia."
I remember Tom Snyder. Of course before I really knew who he was I met Dan Ackroyd's impression of him on "Saturday Night Live." But eventually I got to know him and his "Tomorrow Show" quite well. Just like staying up late to watch "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and reruns of "Dark Shadows" on the old and sadly missed channel 48, Tom's "Tomorrow Show" on local NBC affiliate channel 3 also became habit.
And just like those early episodes of "SNL," Tom introduced me to punk rock. I remember my first dose of the Sex Pistols, and fondly recall the many appearances of Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics. On the other end of the musical scale I also remember the night just-gone-solo Phil Collins discussed how he wanted to use his voice as a percussive instrument, then performed "In the Air Tonight."
Whatever was on, whoever was on, even when it was just Tom talking intimately to just me, it was always interesting. As a child of the seventies who was mesmerized by the TV movie "Helter Skelter" I have vivid memories of Tom's week with the real thing, Charles Manson. Talk about nightmares! Chilling stuff.
Wherever you are, Tom, I'm raising a glass to you, You're missed.