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…

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