Tom Snyder TRIBUTE – July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder TRIBUTE – July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder, TV Talk Host, Dies at 71

Tom Snyder, who pioneered an in-depth, conversational interviewing style on late-night television, died Sunday at his home in San Francisco. He was 71.

The cause was complications associated with leukemia, the Associated Press reported, citing Mr. Snyder’s longtime producer and friend, Mike Horowicz.

As the host of NBC’s “Tomorrow Show,” Mr. Snyder introduced a highly personal style that would have a strong influence on many television interviewers who followed, especially those on cable television.

Mr. Snyder, with a cigarette in hand, would lean in toward his guests and aggressively extract information, as if he were putting on a performance. He was happy to follow his guests wherever they might go, relishing digressions that often turned his interviews into conversations.

He clearly enjoyed himself in the process, punctuating his questions with a distinctive and hearty laugh that later became the centerpiece of an impression of him done by Dan Aykroyd in the early days of “Saturday Night Live.”

Being lampooned on the show greatly raised Mr. Snyder’s profile; many viewers knew the impression before knowing the man’s own work.

Celebrities often chose to appear on Mr. Snyder’s show because they liked the longer, more intimate interviews, which contrasted with the standard approach of the time, a quick visit to the talk-show couch to banter with a host behind a desk. Among Mr. Snyder’s notable guests were John Lennon, Ayn Rand, Charles Manson and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

Mr. Snyder began his career as a radio reporter in Milwaukee in the 1960s, then moved into local television news, anchoring newscasts in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. In 1972, he left news behind to become the host of the “The Tomorrow Show,” which followed “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson on NBC. His catch phrase for the show was: “Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.”

His show was canceled in 1982 to make way for David Letterman. Mr. Snyder got a second life in late night TV when Mr. Letterman, a longtime fan, hired him in 1995 to host “The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder” at CBS. He left that show in 1998 and was succeeded by Craig Kilborn.

Mr. Snyder announced on his Web site in 2005 that he had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the A.P. reported.

Bill Carter contributed reporting.

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