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David Susskind

  • Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City
  • Birthday: December 19
Date of passing: 
February 22, 1987

David Susskind was an American producer of TV, movies, and stage plays and also a pioneer TV talk show host.

His talk shows were innovative in the genre and addressed timely, controversial topics beyond the scope of others of the day. He drew controversy for his scathing opinion of Muhammad Ali's resistance to the military draft.

His program, Open End, began in 1958 on New York City's commercial independent station WNTA-TV, and was appropriately titled: the program continued until Susskind or his guests were too tired to continue.

David Susskind was an American producer of TV, movies, and stage plays and also a pioneer TV talk show host.

His talk shows were innovative in the genre and addressed timely, controversial topics beyond the scope of others of the day. He drew controversy for his scathing opinion of Muhammad Ali's resistance to the military draft.

His program, Open End, began in 1958 on New York City's commercial independent station WNTA-TV, and was appropriately titled: the program continued until Susskind or his guests were too tired to continue.

In 1961, Open End was constrained to two hours and went into national syndication. The show was retitled The David Susskind Show for its telecast on Sunday night, October 2, 1966. In the 1960s it was the first nationally broadcast television talk show to feature people speaking out against American involvement in the Vietnam War. In the 1970s it was the first nationally broadcast television talk show to feature people speaking out for gay rights. The show continued until its New York outlet cancelled it in 1986, approximately six months before Susskind died.

During his almost three decade run, Susskind covered many controversial topics of the day, such as race relations, transsexualism and the Vietnam War. His interview of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, which aired in October 1960, during the height of the Cold War, generated national attention It is one of the very few talk show telecasts from the era that was preserved and can be viewed today.

David Susskind was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1988.

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David Susskind

Photo credit: 
AP

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