There was a time in recent American history when the talk show genre hadn’t yet been defined. There were plenty of entertainment-type talk shows, all of which my grandmother watched.
I always thought it was hilarious how she didn’t ever refer to talk show names. She referred to talk show host names. She would spend her days watching Merv (The Merv Griffin Show), Mike (The Mike Douglas Show), or, late at night, she might stay up to watch Johnny (The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson). She would laugh and be entertained. I remembered them mostly as boring shows with high brow Hollywood guests that were enamored of themselves.
It was my mother, though, that introduced me to the real talk shows. I remember often watching Donahue! which is the show that virtually every afternoon talk show has modeled themselves after since. It starred Phil Donahue who would interview such guests as Louis Farrakhan or Ayn Rand and then head out into the audience for intelligent, well-spoken questions.
What I loved the most about Phil, and I didn’t truly appreciate this until I was older, was that you never entirely knew where he fell on any particular issue because he was the master of playing devil’s advocate. If you’ve never seen Phil in action, here’s a nice little clip to educate you…
And Phil paved the way for Sally Jessy Raphael and, yes, Jerry Springer, and, yes, even OPRAH!
There was a barrage of afternoon talk shows, some more memorable than others. But it become a practice or a habit to watch these shows when I got home from high school every day at 2:30pm. I knew them all.
They all eventually disappeared (except Oprah) and we had a new generation of talk shows with the likes of Maury, Ricki Lake, and other dreadful hosts like Wendy Williams and Rachel Ray. But I still missed the old school talk show hosts. And apparently you did too.
I stopped by the grocery store and scanned my usual temptations in line. And this one, I just couldn’t resist purchasing.
And when I instagrammed my trash rag confession and said I would report my findings, you all embraced me in a totally non-judgmental way and asked me to fill you in. So save your $3.79 for the latest edition of the Examiner and read here whatever happened to…
He hasn’t disappeared. He’s just faded into the background of his wife, Marlo Thomas (whose level of plastic surgery is pretty scary). Still as humble as ever, he’s been a successful documentary producer but mostly follows around in the shadow of That Girl (1970s reference to his wife Marlo).
Sally Jessy Raphael
Last I heard, Sally lived down the road from my sister-in-law in an area of eastern NY filled with horse farms (and celebrities, apparently). But she is also (according to the Examiner) a bit of an internet sensation. When I read that, I was all, WHAT? Because frankly, I haven’t seen her anywhere. She is on Twitter and has “gone viral on YouTube” but looking at her numbers and the definition of viral, I may be poised to be the next big talk show host. To be fair, she is almost 72 so I’ll give her props for even knowing what social media is.
If you don’t remember her, you need to Google this woman. She was a divorced mother who gained a ton of weight and then lost it. She then vowed to help everyone in America get fit with her three word mantra: Eat. Sleep. Move. She still espouses the same stuf except now she’s… dun dun dun… a radical feminist lesbian. And she has an internet radio show. Somewhere. On the internet.
Oh, she of Star Search fame. Jenny was always too nice in my book. Too smiley. She needed to school some people once in a while. But she was very likable and always looked great for her age (which was much older than most people thought). She’s now 66 and I just can’t say anything bad about her. Because she spends her time giving away money to worthy causes. Check out Jenny’s Heroes for more information. Good job, Jenny!
Here’s what you need to know: he was once an enthralling investigative journalist and then he became a fame-seeking jerkbag. And I have to report he’s still pretty much the same. Except he appears regularly on the Fox News Channel. Sorry, but even as a strong conservative, I still can’t stand the guy.
Did he ever go away? Because like Naomi Judd, I felt like his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis sent him on farewell tour and then he never actually went away. He continued on his talk show until 2008 (I actually thought it was still on). He spends much of his time fighting to support the medical use of marijuana. I’d love to make a joke there but he’s a big fan of Sylvia Browne and I am too. So I’ll just leave you thinking we’re all a bit crazy.
Now that you’re up to speed on who used to be, I’d like your thought on what could be.
Imagine I’m thinking of hosting my own talk show. Imagine that it’s short and fun and kind of like Nightline (in the old Ted Koppel days). Would you watch? And if so, what would you name my show?
This is still in the fantasy world I call my head but I’d love for you to help me bring the idea into this thing called reality.