Just to talk about Ann-Margret, she was so adorable and that really includes everything about her, but in this case especially it was her voice that caught my attention. She has this very sweet soft voice that reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Taylor as far as how she speaks to people. Which I’m sure was driving Johnny Carson crazy ( at least inside ) with him thinking something like she’s too cute to also be this sexy. But that is Ann-Margret who is this very sweet, adorable, soft, and yet sexy and gorgeous woman. Very similar to Raquel Welch or Rita Hayworth from a previous era.
As far as The Cheap Detective, it could’ve been called The Cheap Movie as well. Not a great movie, but with a great cast including Ann-Margret, but Louise Fletcher, Stockard Channing, ( talking about beautiful, adorable women ) Peter Falk who is the star of the movie and someone who if anything might have been even funnier than Johnny Carson, even though they would’ve made a great contest. It’s a pretty funny movie similar to Columbo as far as the humor and funny people in it, but this is not one of Humphrey Bogart’s great film noir humorous movies, but more like play on those movies.
Burt Reynolds, the master of action/comedy who was a basically a comedian himself who didn’t do standup ( except when he was sitting down being interviewed ) being interviewed by the master of the late show the King of Late Night Johnny Carson. What could possibly be funny about two masters of the wisecrack and improv who play off each other perfectly because they have similar sense of humors? And then throw they were both somewhat immature when it came to comedy as far as not afraid of looking silly when they do their comedy.
I didn’t get much out of this interview other than Burt’s wisecracks about Hollywood parties and his trip to Florida for his summer vacation and how commercial the towns that he went through have become. But with Carson and Reynolds you didn’t need a script for these two guys to have a funny interview, because they played so well off each other. Sort of like Whose Line is it Anyway, Saturday Night Live, any Cary Grant movie where the director trusted his cast and let them do their things and be themselves as performers, because they director knew it would work out.
The perfect interviewer Mike Wallace interviewing the perfect late show talk show host Johnny Carson in 1979. I can’t think of a better combination here other than maybe Mike Wallace interviewing Cary Grant, or someone like that. I believe Johnny answered the Mike Wallace question of why don’t you take on serious topics. By saying that is not what he does. He’s a comedian and his job was to entertain people and make them laugh. He wasn’t Phil Donahue on the air hosting national town hall everyday. His job was literally make fun of what is going on in the world and have fun with it. He did do political satire and would make fun of what is going on in the news and public officials when they screw up. But again doing it in a humorous way.
Carson, was a comedian first and talk show host second. And what he would do with his talk format would be to question other comedians and entertainers, because again his job was to entertain people. Not to inform then on what is going on in the Middle East, or why stocks on Wall Street are down. And he would even interview politicians and other public officials, but generally those people would have good if not great sense of humor’s as well. People like Ron Reagan, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and they would make fun of politics together and perhaps of each other. I believe Carson was interested in politics and current affairs a lot which is why he did read and watch a lot of news, but he wasn’t going to use his show simply cover the issues of the day. But to make fun of what is going on in the world. CBS News: 60 Minutes- Mike Wallace: Interviewing Johnny Carson, in 1979
Johnny Carson, needed to be careful about having people like Hollywood Goddess Dyan Cannon on his show. Because she was probably as quick as he was off the cuff with the humor, or at least in the same ballpark. Who didn’t need a script to crack joke and even do monologue. And as good as Johnny was at poking fun at famous people and he might be the best comedian ever at doing this, he wasn’t exactly flawless. I mean he was basically the male Liz Taylor when it came to married life. Both when it came to his multiple marriages and divorces. He could write a book literally based on his personal experiences in life of what not to do when it came to married life. And Dyan knew these things and knew him very well.
Late night comedic hosts have to draw a line about who they pick fun at when they have guests on. I mean if they have people on who are experts at screwing up, sure! Making fun of them would be easy, especially if they don’t know how to punch back, or even screw that up. But not many people would want to see that. But if they on quick-witted people like a Dyan Cannon who knows the host well and has had her issues in life that could be poked fun at like her multiple marriages and divorces, but can give it back as well then they’ll end up taking clean shots on their own show. And perhaps even be put on the defensive. Johnny Carson, whether they were standup comedians, or not and Dyan’s case, more of a comedic actress with a quick off the cuff humor and great ability to improvise, loved funny people. Which is why having Dyan on his show worked so well.
Johnny, also liked intelligent people and intelligent people who were funny. Frank Sinatra comes to mind, Burt Reynolds would be another one and Dyan Cannon would be close to, or at the top of this list. He would mention things to talk about and generally what was going on in Dyan’s life and what she’s interested in and they would simply talk about like two people who knew each other very well. With no script and would do it in a very funny way that would keep the audience interested and laughing. And even have Dyan with her adorable laugh laughing her head off for most of the interview which is what you see here. Dyan Cannon, was the perfect guest for Johnny Carson, because she kept him on his toes and made him think.