I mentioned this show in the comments in another thread, saying that after I watched it I felt another project was in the works. However, I leave it all to others. It involves genealogy, twins, and a very unlikely story about how Carol Burnett made her way to stardom. I will give you the exact time at which the interesting events in this show occur so that you don’t have to sit through it or go searching.
The original Dick Cavett Show was ninety minutes. and this version is 1:06:41. That means that when it was originally aired, 23:29 was devoted to commercials, or about 27% of the airtime. I think that is modest by current standards, though I don’t have the steely ambition to sit through current late night talk shows to measure their commercial content.
And, just my opinion here, Dick Cavett, now 82, was not only a good interviewer, but a very interesting man as well. I remember watching him back when Johnny Carson was king of late night and thinking that he was different, not better or worse, just different and usually interesting. The Carson show was heavily scripted, nothing happening by accident, whereas the Cavett show depended heavily on his ability to carry on an interesting conversation.
So, I will go through the interesting (an uninteresting) parts of the show. The first part is devoted to Mohammad Ali’s doctor, who came on to dispel any rumors that the fighter had broken his jaw. Then came Lucie Arnaz, (13:00) Lucille Ball’s daughter, who at age 19 does not belong on TV. She’s boring.
Carol Burnett comes on at 21:30, and the two, Burnett and Cavett, do a nice job together keeping the show lively. At 23:00 she tells a really weird story about how she spent a week deceiving some guy into thinking she was twins. Not going there.
At 24:00 Burnett talks about a man who entered her life in 1952 and loaned her $1,000 to go to New York and get into show business. That would be the equivalent of almost $10,000 in today’s dollars. The story has a funny feel about it, and I don’t buy it for a second. At her Wikipedia page we also learn that on graduation from high school she was given an anonymous envelope containing her first year’s tuition at UCLA. Again, not buying. Burnett, a Hollywood native, smacks of privilege masked as rags-to-riches. I say that having very much enjoyed her comedy.
Lucille Ball comes on at 34:00. I don’t much care for her – her voice reminds me of a smoker, and her hair on this show looks very much like a wig, though she will claim it is merely dyed red, part of her show business persona that she does not like. She is in New York to claim a high prestige award, something that entertainers do a lot of. I think the award system is part of a much larger system of power of suggestion … convincing us that people with very little talent have a lot of it. Right, Bob Dylan?
The show doesn’t get interesting again until about 58:00 minutes, when Cavett is teased into revealing his middle name … Alva, as in Thomas Alva Edison. Alva and Alva-like names are all over Thepeerage.com. Burnett then reveals hers … Creighton, which has 68 links at that site.
Anyone who follows the Miles Mathis project knows that Lucille Ball is of the Washington lineage. So in this 1971 show we are possibly seeing revelation of secrets – three celebrities who just might be from the families.
I said that this sounded like a project, and it does. But not for me. I am not going to do any genealogy as I am not very good at it. Also, it strikes me that there is a tendency toward guesswork when we start making loose connections. However, there is a habit in the Peerage of naming children after ancestors*. So the appearance of names like Alva and Creighton as the middle names of people who just happened to become celebrities is interesting. Nothing more.
*We are told that Obama’s mother’s first name is “Stanley.” Who names their daughter Stanley! I was just asking my own daughter, Dave, the other night about that oddity.