In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with the original SNL cast from the May 1977 issue.
Al Franken: Here’s a line I couldn’t get past the censors: “If Helen Keller were alone in the forest and she fell down, would she make a sound?”
Chevy Chase: When I first heard that the ribbing Ford was getting hurt his feelings, it bothered me. On the other hand, he was a man in the public eye, who had to be held accountable for falling on little girls in wheelchairs, just the way Nixon should be held accountable for bombing Cambodia. Thank God, Ford didn’t try to bomb Cambodia. God knows who he would have bombed first by mistake.
Gilda Radner: Zweibel and I once spoke at a college and I said something about Belushi that was misinterpreted by someone who loves Belushi and he wrote John a letter saying that I have about as much talent as his Irish setter. I wrote back saying something mean about the dog and I sent him an autographed picture of me, but first I told Belushi to write something nice so the kid would like me. Belushi wrote, “I like Gilda very much. She’s a cunt with teeth.”
Alan Zweibel: Once we wanted to kill a baby on the air and they wouldn’t let us.
Lorne Michaels: The show represents what’s going in our lives that week—and we rarely have time to think beyond that. This is roughly how it goes: On Monday, we walk in and find nothing written. There will be a new host wanting to know what he’s supposed to do, so you set about filling 90 minutes of air time. Scripts are started, sets are ordered, and all of a sudden it’s Wednesday and you see there’s nothing written for Gilda. By Saturday, we’re frantic and the show goes on, in whatever shape it’s in, and after that, we go out and drink. Sunday is for lying home and sulking. So you can see, there just isn’t much time to be Machiavellian about who’s watching or what the effect is going to be. The process is one of problem solving. It’s reactive rather than conspiratorial.
John Belushi: I’ve got a long life ahead of me. I might just do anything.
To read the interview in its entirety on your Kindle App, Kindle Fire or Kindle Touch, click below.
Or read the interview with access to all Playboy interviews on iPlayboy.