Norman Mailer & Gore Vidal Feud on The Dick Cavett Show

Anoth­er chap­ter from Amer­i­ca’s long his­to­ry of inci­vil­i­ty. Today, we rewind the video­tape to Decem­ber 1971, when Gore Vidal (already known for his tele­vised spat with William F. Buck­ley) got into a ver­bal brawl with the always mer­cu­r­ial (and, on this occa­sion, sauced) nov­el­ist Nor­man Mail­er. What the tele­vi­sion audi­ence sees is just the tip of the ice­berg. Back in the green­room, Mail­er actu­al­ly head­butted Vidal, tak­ing revenge for a neg­a­tive review that Vidal pub­lished in the New York Review of Books that pre­vi­ous sum­mer. (Slate has more on this.) Cavett nav­i­gat­ed the whole scene rather remark­ably, as you’ll see. But still, almost 40 years lat­er, he mulls over the dif­fi­cul­ty of this one inter­view (and here again), even though many oth­ers (take for exam­ple this bit with Sly Stone) were no small chal­lenge…

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Nor­man Mail­er & Mar­shall McLuhan Debate the Elec­tron­ic Age

Mail­er on the Ali-Fore­man Clas­sic

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