Roy Clark on guest hosting “The Tonight Show” – TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews
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Roy Clark on guest hosting “The Tonight Show” – TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews


I used to think because Johnny Carson made it look so easy. I used to sit and watch him and I’d think What’s so difficult about what he’s doing I mean he’s he gets the greatest actors and personalities and singers in the world And all he does is sit back and make conversation with him in what’s so hard about that? And then I got to sit in that seat and all of a sudden they turned the juice up and he got very hot and I got very dumb and And I just found myself going to a little bit but I’ve again Fred de Cordova the producer and Bobby Quinn the director and all of his stage crew and Ellen in the Doc Severinsen and Ed McMahon And all of them was so down to earth and so friendly Now every time we’d go to break on Fred to Cordova would come up and say He’d say you’re doing great you’re doing great it’s going smooth He said oh cases. Now you’ve that guest your next guest is coming up. They’re gonna want to talk about a book they have a new book out and he just right up until time for the camera to go on and then I do just after talking with him and had my notes down in front of me and then that’s I Start interviewing this guest and get it out and then all of a sudden Fred would say okay you got 20 seconds to say thank your guest and say good night. I said it’s over this is back when we’ve been doing an hour and a half to you and Because of those people that were there on your side And you knew that you could do no wrong Because if you slipped and filled all of them were gonna pick you up Who are some of the guests that were on when you hosted? How about all of them Norm Crosby was was a sweetheart. He jumped right in and Smooth things over and those guys from that era who have been around and done they could help they help one another If you ever watch a variety show Especially when it’s a it’s a casual talking back and forth You’ll see them paying attention to each other and if one stammers for a moment The other one will slide right in with something to keep it going it got to the point that I was so accepted by the Tonight Show That I was allowed to invite What are my personal guests that I wanted? Most of them they were obligated The Tonight Show was obligated to have but then they gave me one spot I say me me and my and my manager one spot to fill in and we could put on any one we wanted and For this see You name it and and they were on with me. They tried to match up people. They thought I would have a little Familiarity with feeling that I either knew them Or we had done some things that were very similar and they figured we could get something started and We did they made it as comfortable as possible. There were a couple that I didn’t really know Didn’t know them or didn’t know their work, like there may be an author that had a book and I had not read the book and you Know I would just had a loss for You know what to talk about but most of the times they tried to match us match us up one of the ones that I wanted to have on And I later found out could have but I didn’t want to Abuse our friendship was Jimmy Cagney the the great actor and him and I Became very dear friends, very close friends I’d go to his house and we would have a sit-down luncheon About every two three weeks He had his own little plan That through the years they had all Enjoyed each other’s company and I was accepted into it Donald O’Connor Carroll O’Connor You’ll notice a lot of Irish Pat O’Brien Lee and a lot of directors and producers and what they would do they’d sit around this huge living room and it was a piano there and they’d go around to each one was very informal and It would go to like say a director Daniel man was was there and he got me a part little cameo part in the movie Just you know just for friendship and that director would sit and he would start talking about What it was like to work with Clark Gable? You know what? Randolph Scott, whoever what? Did they do? That was they were anything funny happened? Then they did everybody would laugh Then the next one maybe a writer and he said well, I wrote I wrote the screenplay for Moby Dick or some classic film Television special or something and I’m in the company of all these people and then they would go around and come my time and Jimmy Cagney had a chair overstuffed chair. He would sit in it like this like he was the pivotal point which he was and Then he’d look at me and he’d say That’s your turn And I would have to sing yesterday when I was young for then all of them would take their handkerchiefs at me, you know reminisce and and get to thinking about yesterday when they were young and The first night I met Jimmy Cagney went to his house after I had done to Tonight Show. Oh And I come very close to asking him to be a guest But he had retired. He had not done a movie had not done anything and he told me Sometime before that that when He said when you get ready to retire, he said you have to plan it you Said you just didn’t start a career. Did you you plan some of the things you were going to do? Same thing with the retirement? You you better start planning your retirement So the day that you retire you are retired, and you’re not tempted to come back Well, they’d send him scripts they’d send him checks that you fill in the amount Whatever you want to do and and he just didn’t do it. So I Couldn’t break it to my own myself to ask him to be a guest of mine on The Tonight Show Because I thought I’d be taking advantage of his friendship But then later he did that last movie and I said Who’s to know that he wouldn’t have done it if I asked him? and boy, what a What a giant feather in my cap if I could have done that how proud would I have been

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