Cavett knows he had the products back then. “Once I see myself on Many years, I’m often surprised at how good I’m,” he said, referring to a network that carries reruns of his show. “That’s a terrible thing to say in public, but I’m completely entertained by myself.”
Marx was entertained, too. He saw in Cavett a kindred spirit, a fellow wit.
“Groucho was young in mind, although old in body at that time,” Bader said. He was still widely beloved, known for the tv show “You Bet Your Life,” which he hosted from 1947 to 1961. The counterculture had embraced the anarchic spirit of flicks like “The Cocoanuts” (1929), “Duck Soup” (1933) and “A Night on the Opera” (1935). He was a form of éminence grise in American comedy, still revered by younger comics like Cavett. And Marx in turn never uninterested in the stage lights.
“Dick gave Groucho this wide open forum, which he didn’t necessarily have when he went on other shows,” Bader said. “He would just take over.”
Cavett tears up within the film as he recalls Marx’s death in 1977 at age 86. “We had lost Captain Spaulding,” he says within the film, referring to the name of the character Marx played within the 1930 movie “Animal Crackers.” For nine years, their friendship was a joyous on-air affair.
But he still has the memories and stories, which he likes to share. Just like the time a pair recognized the 2 men on a Recent York sidewalk and the person asked Marx to say something insulting about his wife.
Marx paused, Cavett told me, then replied: “‘Well, with a wife like that, it is best to have the ability to think about your personal insults.’
“Let’s put it his way,” Cavett added. “I’ve never enjoyed a guest more.”