Many painful losses in the news today, including filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and football coach Bill Walsh. Two people who left indelible fingerprints in their field. Talk show host Tom Snyder also passed away. As someone on another site pointed out, Snyder was once in the front-runner to host both the NBC evening news and The Tonight Show—that’s something unheard of. But it speaks to Snyder’s remarkable versatility.
I was in high school when The Late, Late Show premiered on CBS in 1995. Having never seen The Tomorrow Show (it was canceled to make way for Letterman), I had no idea who Snyder was. Ironically, it was who Letterman hand-picked Snyder to host the program that followed Late Night. Because I had to wake up early to catch the school bus, I could only watch Snyder’s show on Friday nights or during the summers. Ever since the show went off the air, my Friday nights have not been the same.
No talk show host has ever conducted better interviews that Snyder. When someone sat on his blackened stage, it felt like just two people talking. He would bring up hard questions, he would tell stories or jokes, and he would simply enjoy the medium of late-night television. Snyder always delivered his opening monologue with ease. And usually, it ended with his trademark laugh. Snyder seemed like a man who simply enjoyed life and he loved spending his time talking with his friends, many of whom often made appearances on the show.
His talk show was the last vestige of true news in late-night television. Though I will always love Dave and Conan, neither of them could touch Snyder in his ability to simply back, relax, and talk for an hour.
So, in honor of Tom, truly one of television’s finest and a one of my heroes, 77 Santas will “fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.”