RIP Phyllis Newman

Phyllis Newman, who died Sunday at 86, was an accomplished actress/singer best known to baby boomers through scores of appearances on game shows and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show starting in the 1960s.

As an example of the former, here’s Newman on the What’s My Line panel of July 2, 1967. The episode’s “mystery guest” is the lyricist/writing team of Betty Comden and Newman’s husband Adolph Green.

And here’s The Tonight Show from September 6, 1974. The late-nighter ran for 90 minutes back then; if you want to skip the other guests, Newman comes on at around the 36-minute mark.

Undoubtedly a Carson favorite, Newman became his first female guest host and appeared on his final episode in 1992.

Phyllis Newman was also a regular on a couple of ill-fated series.

One was a 1988 CBS sitcom, Coming of Age. Set in a retirement community and co-starring Paul Dooley and Alan Young (Mr. Ed), the show failed to ignite any Golden Girls-type vibes and was cancelled quickly. Here’s a rare episode:

Two decades earlier, Newman was a cast member of the pioneering political satire show, That Was The Week That Was (aka TW3), which ran live on NBC from 1964 to 1965. TW3 received several Emmy nominations for its two seasons, including writing nods for Calvin Trillin, Gloria Steinem, the show’s “special correspondent” David Frost, and others.

We’d love to show you an episode or even a clip, but they simply don’t exist anymore – in video form. So, here’s a complete audio recording from June 12, 1964. In addition to Newman, listen for Frost and a pre-M*A*S*H Alan Alda. Highly recommended for anyone curious about the roots of SNL’s “Weekend Update,” The Daily Show and so many others:

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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