Tom Snyder died Sunday at age 71. He will be missed.
In fact, I have been missing him for years since he left TV.
I grew up watching Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show. It started in 1972, so I would have been 10 or 11, and I watched it from its inception. I was never a good sleeper – even as a kid – and my mom gave up long before I was 10. She just let me stay up as late as I wanted, as long as I got up for school the next morning.
Johnny Carson and then Tom Snyder kept me company as I sat up late, having time to think, and time to be alone, which I never got during the daylight hours. In retrospect, I think that was probably part of the deal for me – I have always needed alone time. That was the only way to get it.
When I grew up and became an interviewer myself, I remembered that it’s OK to ask the question that seems a bit rude, because it’s what everyone really wants to know. I remembered Tom Snyder’s easy manner and modeled it whenever it was appropriate.
Of course, I never interviewed the sort of people he did – from John Lennon to Charles Manson.
I was thrilled when Snyder came back to television in the mid nineties on the Late, Late Show that aired after Letterman. When Craig Kilborn took over the show it was a huge disappointment for me. I watch Craig Ferguson now, and love him, but it’s a completely different show than what Tom Snyder did.
Snyder always looked like he had just heard the filthiest joke ever and was debating whether or not to share it with you. You always wanted in on it and he never failed to bring you along.
He died from complications of leukemia.
His sign off was my bedtime story for many years – “…sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.”
The pictures won’t ever be the same without him.