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Talk Show Host Tom Snyder Dies

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Television lost one of its formative figures yesterday, someone who you might recall from late, late at night.

(Soundbite of "Tomorrow")

Mr. TOM SNYDER (Host): Doesn't surprise you at all? Does that bother you at all? What the hell is going on?

CHADWICK: Tom Snyder came out of that TV screen looking and sounding like someone you hadn't heard before. He had a bold cut of iron gray hair. He had jet-black thick eyebrows, and he had a robust laugh that cut right through the ever-present cigarette haze. This was late at night. And through the '70s on his "Tomorrow" show guests said things that they might not have otherwise revealed, including a very young Steven Spielberg.

(Soundbite "Tomorrow")

Mr. STEVEN SPIELBERG (Movie Director): "Close Encounters" came from my imagination, but my imagination is stimulated by a lot of factual research.

Mr. SNYDER: Do you believe in UFOs?

Mr. SPIELBERG: I'm a want-to believer. I'm really anxious to have an experience myself so I can come on a show like yours and say I believe in UFOs and I'll tell you why. But the problem is, I can't tell you why so I shouldn't tell you I believe in UFOs.

CHADWICK: He'd begun in radio in the 1960s. For a few years in the mid-'90s he hosted "The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder" on CBS. Here he judged Barbara Walters for not recognizing a marijuana plant, something that many viewers figured Tom had encountered.

(Soundbite of "The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder")

Mr. SNYDER: Bless you...

Ms. BARBARA WALTERS (Journalist): Does that make me sound awfully square?

Mr. SNYDER: Not at all.

Ms. WALTERS: Well, so be it.

Mr. SNYDER: You're the hippest thing in television, kid. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

CHADWICK: Tom Snyder died Sunday in San Francisco. He was 71. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.