Dick Cavett

Dick Cavett, writer, talk show host, Gibbon and Lincoln, NE.

Dick Cavett, writer, talk show host, Gibbon and Lincoln, NE.

Richard Alva Cavett, known as “Dick,” was born on November 19, 1936, in Gibbon, Nebraska.  His mother Erabel “Era” (née Richards) and his father Alva B. Cavett, taught school in Comstock, Gibbon and Grand Island, where Cavett attended kindergarten at Wasmer Elementary School.  Later, his parents took teaching positions in Lincoln, where he attended Capitol, Prescott, and Irving schools and graduated from Lincoln High School.

When Cavett was 10, his mother died of cancer at age 36. His father then married Dorcas Deland, also an educator, originally from Alliance, Nebraska. On September 24, 1995, Lincoln Public Schools dedicated the new Dorcas C. and Alva B. Cavett Elementary School in their honor.

Cavett’s grandparents all lived in Grand Island, Nebraska. His paternal grandparents were Alva A. Cavett, from Diller, Nebraska, and Gertrude Pinsch, an immigrant from Aachen, Germany.  His maternal grandparents were the Rev. R.R. and Etta Mae Richards. The Rev. Richards was from Carmarthen, Wales, and was a Baptist minister who served parishes across central Nebraska.

In eighth grade, Cavett directed a live Saturday-morning radio show sponsored by the Junior League and played the title role in The Winslow Boy. One of his high-school classmates was actress and fellow Nebraskan, Sandy Dennis. Cavett was elected state president of the student council, and earned a gold medal at the state gymnastics championship.

Before leaving for college, he worked as a caddy at the Lincoln Country Club. He also performed magic shows, and in 1952, attended the convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in St. Louis, where he won the Best New Performer trophy. Around the same time, he met fellow magician Johnny Carson, 11 years his senior, who was doing a magic act at a church in Lincoln.

While attending Yale University, Cavett played in and directed dramas on the campus radio station and appeared in Yale Drama productions.  In his senior year, he changed his major from English to drama.

Cavett would cross paths with Carson again in 1962, when he worked as a writer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson after having broken in to the business in a similar capacity for Jack Paar, Carson’s predecessor.

The Dick Cavett Show ran on ABC from 1968 to 1974, and then for an additional year on CBS.  Although Cavett perpetually ranked third in ratings behind Carson and Merv Griffin, he was well-respected and gained a reputation for attracting guests who normally did not appear on talk shows, such as Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and Omaha native, Marlon Brando.

In recent years, Cavett has written for the online New York Times, promoted DVDs of his former shows as well as a collection of his columns, and hosted replays of his TV interviews on Turner Classic Movies.


  • Won Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series – Talk (1972). The Dick Cavett Show.
  • Won Primetime Emmy for Special Classification of Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement (1974).  The Dick Cavett Show.
  • Plus an additional 7 nominations.


IMDB:  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0147118/?ref_=nv_sr_1