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August 29, 2015

Tom Snyder dead at 71

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 30th 2007 10:44AM
Tom SnyderWow. The people that permeated the TV landscape in the '70s and '80s are slowly starting to disappear, aren't they? That realization came to me when I went to the web site Romenesko and saw the news that talk-show host Tom Snyder died yesterday. The cause of death was listed as complications from leukemia. He was 71.

Most of us in the 35-and-up set will remember Snyder as host of the NBC talker The Tomorrow Show, which held the post-Tonight Show slot from 1973 to 1982. Much different than the show that preceeded it (and much different from what David Letterman would do in the timeslot), Tomorrow consisted of relaxed, long-form, smoky conversations with newsmakers and cultural icons like John Lennon, Charles Manson, and the Sex Pistols. It was also the show that provided "Weird Al" Yankovic with his first national TV exposure. Not sure why I remember that factoid.

Ironically, in 1995, Letterman hired Snyder as the first host of The Late Late Show, which followed Letterman's show on CBS. It had the same easygoing style as Tomorrow, minus the cigarette smoke.

Snyder started in news, anchoring in Philadelphia before working on Tomorrow. He tried going back to the news business for a time in the '80s -- anchoring at WABC in New York -- until he settled into his own syndicated radio show, which ran until Letterman came calling. I remember listening to the radio show from time to time and was constantly amazed at how relaxed and casual Snyder seemed in front of the mic. His show was a good antidote to the shock jocks and hyper sports talk shows that were beginning to rule the airwaves in those days.

Snyder had been fighting leukemia since 2005. Sorry to see him go.

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Jeff N.

I loved Tom Snyder too. His interviews were interesting. Nothing like this on TV nowadays. The Tomorrow show was very unigue and he had such interesting and unusual guests and I loved him on CBS's Late Late Show. RIP TOM. You were one of a kind.

July 31 2007 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved his show. Hardly ever missed it.

July 31 2007 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tom Snyder was a true pioneer of Late Night TV. What we see now is all prepackaged, watered down slush that is basically the same on every network. When Tom was on, many TV stations resorted to either running all night movies or just plain signing off entirely. Watching his show truly was an event each and every time he was on and no matter how big Leno or Letterman get, they pale in comparison.

I dare either Dave or Jay to attempt to do an entire show with the likes of either Charles Manson or the Sex Pistols. No way could either of them pull something like that off! Like it or not, Tom provided something America had never really seen or heard before - basically uncut, uncensored "live" interviews. What a treat to see all the entertainers go at it with pretty much no restraints put on them! I'll never forget the night Tom had all four members of KISS on for an interview and Ace was so trashed he couldn't stop laughing. The look on Tom's face as he tried valiantly to slog through a hilarious interview with them was priceless. I never laughed so hard in my life.

Rest in peace Tom Snyder. You deserve it.


July 31 2007 at 5:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I first saw Tom Snyder in the last days of the old Tomorrow show, before the network saddled him with the horrible Rona Barrett and tried to turn it into an ordinary talk show called Tomorrow Coast To Coast. The original Tomorrow , and The Late Late Show were perfect counterpoints to the shows that preceded them serious - and sometimes not so serious - talk that was just that, two (sometimes three or four) people talking of whatever seemed right at the time. I found it more than a little depressing that when it came time to replace Tom on The Late Late Show, CBS and David Letterman decided to go the safe route and do a show that was essentially the same as Dave's own show rather than to find someone (for example Jon Stewart or Bonnie Hunt, both of whom were regular replacements for Tom when he was ill or on holiday) to do a show in the style that Tom had established. No offense to Craig Ferguson, but he's no Tom Snyder.

July 31 2007 at 5:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the Late Late Show and watched it in high school almost every night. (Usually finishing homework.) I was really angry when Craig Kilbourne took that job, and I haven't watched it since.

Mr. Snyder, you were a great man. I will miss you and the quality talk shows you were a part of.

July 31 2007 at 3:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember Tom from the Tomorrow show as well as his CNBC show right before he did the Late Late Show. My favorite guest (besides Bonnie Hunt) was David Duchovny. "Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air."

Rest in Peace Mr. Snyder

July 31 2007 at 2:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the Late Late Show episode that aired the night of the Oscars, when the panel guests were Gene Siskel, Bonnie Hunt and David Steinberg. Ostensibly, they were to interview Oscar winners, but few were available, so they ended up cracking each other up. It was wonderful.

David Milch and Harlan Ellison were great guests too.

July 30 2007 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow. That IS a big one.

Although I remember Tom Snyder more for Dan Aykroyd's dead-on impersonation of him on the early SNLs than I do for Snyder himself. How sad is that?

July 30 2007 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lauren Darman

I used to work 4 - midnight and would come home to unwind with his show. I remember seeing The Grateful Dead (who I did not like at the time) play an acoustic set and it was great! Tom was smart and funny and honest, and Charlie Rose will never do as interesting an interview as Tom!

July 30 2007 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One more thing - yeah Bonnie Hunt on his show was gold. If not for Tom I probably wouldn't still have a major crush on Bonnie.

July 30 2007 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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