Longtime Television Host Mike Douglas Dies
The Mike Douglas Show Aired for 21 Years
West Palm Beach, FL – Longtime television host Mike Douglas, whose Mike Douglas Show aired for more than 20 years, died Friday on his 81st birthday in West Palm Beach.
While his wife, Genevieve Douglas, said she did not know the cause of death at this time, according to the Associated Press, some reports indicate cardiac arrest. His wife did say that he had been admitted to a local hospital Thursday following a bout with dehydration.
"We never anticipated this to happen," Mrs. Douglas said. "He was coming along fine, we thought. It was really a shock."
Highly regarded as a talk-show format pioneer, Mike Douglas said in his 1999 memoir that his 90-minute syndicated afternoon program was not a talk show.
"People still believe The Mike Douglas Show was a talk show—and I never correct them—but I don't think so," he said. "It was really a music show, with a whole lot of talk and laughter in between numbers."
Douglas clocked around 6,000 shows from 1961 to 1982, conversing with about 30,000 guests throughout those 21 years.
Showcasing Douglas' own talents as a singer, his program offered true variety with a mix of music and sports stars, comedians and political personalities.
In Mike Douglas' Own Words
Mike Douglas was interviewed for three hours in Beverly Hills, California, on March 31, 2005, by Karen Herman of the Archive of American Television. The complete interview is available for viewing at the AAT office on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences plaza in North Hollywood.
On voicing "Prince Charming" in Walt Disney classic Cinderella:
"I probably was in dire need of a job and an income. Suddenly, this agent called me, and he said, 'They’ve auditioned 500 people at Disney, and I got you an appointment!'"
"(Walt) Disney himself is there listening. I walk in and I couldn’t see; it’s one of those glasses you can’t see the people through, but you know there’s somebody in there. He was in there. I sang 'So This is Love.' (Disney) turned and said, 'That’s him, that’s what I want. I want that voice.'"
"I'd just came out of the service. We had this little GI house. We had some furniture. We had twin babies. They paid me $100 a day. We needed it so desperately. The very beginning of our life and our first little home and all."
On finding the energy to tape multiple Mike Douglas Shows in one day:
"We had two double tape days. Do you know what it’s like doing two 90-minute shows in one day? Just think about the preparation. I had the energy. I cannot tell you why. I think the show gave me the energy."
"I was 36 years old when I got the show. I used to work with a guy who’d say, ‘If you haven’t made it by the time you’re 35, forget it.’ That stayed in my mind. I just got in under the wire. I was so grateful. I put my entire being into that show. I worked harder than any of them did. The trick is, making it look easy."
On what makes a great interview:
"Liking the person makes it a lot easier. You don’t like everybody you talk to, and some of them don’t like me. It’s easy to overcome that, if you know that going in."
"I did it for so long, your instincts become very important. Also, the chemistry. I feel the chemistry. I can tell you before a show, seeing the people who are booked, that it’s not going to work. The chemistry’s not right. It was tough to deal with, I want to tell you, because they’re already booked and the show’s happening."
On his on-camera style:
"I didn’t invent anything. I didn’t try to be anybody that I wasn’t. A lot of them do. A lot of them try to do things that they’ve seen other people do. I just said, 'I’m going on, I’m going to be myself. If they like it? Fine. If they don’t? Next case.'"
On how he would like to be remembered:
"As a nice guy who thought a great deal about other people. I love people. As someone who never abused anyone in his family. Who was a good, honest father. One that could be trusted. I never hurt anybody in my life, in the business, intentionally. Just a good guy who likes people."
For more on the life and works of Mike Douglas, please visit the Archive of American Television Update blog.
Feature Edited By J. Bolden