Dick Cavett is a television personality, actor and talk show host known for his conversational style and in-depth conversations with notables from the worlds of entertainment, politics, publishing and sports. He appeared regularly on television for five consecutive decades, from the 1960s through the 2000s. Cavett has been nominated for at least 10 Emmy Awards and has won three.
The Dick Cavett Show was the title of several of his talk shows on various television networks. From 1969 to 1975 it was aired on ABC late night. Lucille Ball appeared on an episode on March 9, 1971 along with her daughter Lucie Arnaz and another famous redhead Carol Burnett. Ball would also appear on his first CBS variety show, also titled The Dick Cavett Show in 1975.
On the 1971 show, Cavett introduced Ball by noting that I Love Lucy can be seen four times a day in New York City, plus her current series Here’s Lucy (1968 -1974) is on Monday nights on CBS. He adds that she has also done 76 motion pictures.
Discussing Roman Scandals (1933), Ball says she still has the g-string, but not the wig that she wore. Cavett adds that the near nudity was arousing to him as a young boy. I don’t know how I feel about young Cavett having a boner for Ball.
Ball told him that she is fond of gambling, but she said the thrill was gone once she had real money. Ball and Cavett bonded over their Scottish / English heritage.
Ball recalled that as a young model she pretended to be from Butte, Montana, instead of her hometown Jamestown, New York, just to sound more interesting, but she said that she now loves Jamestown.
Cavett (of Jamestown): “Is there a plaque there someplace?”
Ball: “No, a plot. They have a hulluva cemetery.”
Curiously, after she left this world in 1987, Ball was first buried at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills. In 2002, she was moved to the family plot in Jamestown. Today the upstate New York town is defined by being Ball’s birthplace, with numerous plaques, murals, and that horrible statue.
After a commercial break, Ball recounted, with some little embellishments, the plot of one of her favorite episodes of I Love Lucy: Lucy’s Italian Movie. She talked about casting the “stocky” Italian women to play Lucy Ricardo’s fellow grape-stompers. According to Lucy, the women spoke no English and had to be directed via a translator, and that the other woman in the vat was a real grape-stomper from Napa Valley when she was actually Teresa Tirelli D’Amico, an opera singer.
Ball: (about her grape-stomping partner): “She was half a ton!” She told how the fight with Tirelli in the vat got out of hand and she was held under so long she thought she might drown. Ball:
To drown in a vat of grapes was not the way I had planned to go.
Cavett asked Ball about her son Desi Arnaz Jr.’s “somewhat Playboy existence”. She says that it does worry her, but he is learning fast. Her son had an affair with Liza Minnelli (she was seven years older) that was fodder for tabloid gossip due to their age difference. Ball:
Yes, it bothers me. But I, too, love Liza. I miss Liza more than he does. But you can’t domesticate Liza.
Finally, Ball told the strange but true story of how she helped the USA win World War II with the help of her dental fillings. Driving home from the studio late at night she heard Morse Code tapped out emanating from the lead fillings in her mouth. Next day she reported the location she heard the sounds to the FBI and they discovered an underground Japanese radio station.