When I announced my retirement from television last month, WISH-TV asked me to send them some tapes of my favorite shows for my send-off. I had favorites in my head, I just didn’t have the tapes. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, I had to remember to set my VCR each morning, and quite frankly, I had never quite mastered that skill. But there is a tape running in my head, and unless I accidentally erase it, I still have some great memories. So, for the next two weeks’ columns, I’ll hit the replay button.
Tall in the saddle
At Hoosier Park, I asked a jockey to stand on a chair and allow me to interview him as “Otto, the world’s tallest jockey.” The camera only revealed us above the waist. The jockey played it totally straight, even lamenting his poor basketball skills in high school. The photographer never revealed the chair because it was so obviously a gag. Turns out the horse’s owner was watching and had never met Otto — and had never seen me on TV. She didn’t know I did “shtick.” She called Hoosier Park in a panic, concerned that her horse would be carrying a 6-foot-3 rider. How good an actor was Otto? He ended up playing the jockey in the movie “Secretariat.”
My best pun
In the early ’80s, I was hosting “Good Morning, New York.” I had the opportunity to interview boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Because he was doing 7-Up commercials at the time, I asked him if he would mind autographing a 2-liter bottle I picked up on the way to the studio.
“But, Dick,” he said, “this is regular 7-Up. I just do the Diet 7-Up commercials.”
“OK, then, could you sign it “Sugar-Free Ray Leonard?”
The Sybaris hotel is a place for lovers, complete with hot tubs and mirrors. When I interviewed the owner in one of the rooms, behind us in bed were friends I had asked to be part of the stunt. There was no hanky-panky going on, but they kept peeking out from under the covers. Well, the next day, scores of people told me that I had inadvertently gone into an occupied room. Seriously?
Almost 35 years ago, I did a segment in Columbus, Ohio, about couples who swing. This wasn’t dancing. These were married folks who switched partners. When I got home, my wife told me how impressed she was with the guests.
“You were impressed?” I asked, jaw dropping.
“Yes. We can’t even find a couple to go to the movies with.”