Tom Snyder Battling Leukemia

From E! Online, via Steven Taylor, serious bad news — Tom Snyder has Leukemia:

The folksy former NBC newsman and CBS talk-show emcee has announced he has been diagnosed with chronic, but treatable, lymphocytic leukemia.

Snyder, who once held the The Late Late Show host post, was optimistic about his chances.

“When I was a kid leukemia was a death sentence. Now, my doctors say it’s treatable! With pills or chemotherapy or a combination of both,” he said Friday on his Website, He said that, if caught early, patients can live up to 30 years.

“I ain’t looking for thirty years,” he said, “but fifteen more would be nice!”

My thoughts below the fold.

I used to say that Beavis and Butt-Head got me through graduate school; the inanity of that show allowed me to let go of the first- and second-year graduate student anger that seems rather common. But that was just up until I got my MA. In a sense — something I hadn’t thought about until the Poliblogger post — it was really Tom Snyder and his Late Late Show that got me through my doctoral program.

After I’d finished about five years of coursework, I was living down at USC, in what we called “the ‘hood.” I had developed a serious routine: I’d wake up a bit late (10:00-ish) and I’d read for about four hours. After that, I’d head over to the campus gym and I’d swim and/or work out. I’d return home at about 4:00 pm, eat, and then get ready to spend the night reading and outlining my notes. But each night I’d take a break, at about 8:30 pm, and head on over to the local liquor store — once called Zip’s, but I don’t remember what it was after that. I’d buy a 40 ounce bottle of King Cobra for $1.49, return home, and put it in the little office fridge that I lived out of.

I’d read for another three or so hours, until 12:35, when the Late Late Show came on. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to call Tom Snyder an intellectual, but at the time it seemed that he would facilitate the type of intelligent conversation among his guests that I fancied myself having with the authors of my books. At a minimum, his brand of talk show was undoubtedly superior to that of Jimmy Kimmel and Carson Daily. I’d twist open the 40 and let myself relax.

One particularly memorable night was when Snyder had on some obscure, unknown, and strange Irish writer name Frank McCourt. He’d just written his memoirs — about his semi-tragic upbringing in Ireland — and McCourt and Snyder had a happy time recanting the horrors of mid-century Ireland. I went out and bought what turns out to be a first edition copy of Angela’s Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography whose dust jacket (lamenting the horrors of the Irish Catholic upbringing) offended my father when I gave him the book for Christmas. Of course the book is in fact excellent and a testament to the human spirit, but my point here is that I cannot separate this amazing literary find from Tom Snyder. The show was like that, it acted as an invitation into people’s lives, and in doing so forced me at least to ask the same tough questions about myself.

I only vaguely recall the cancellation of his show, but I recall that I too had moved on. Sure, I still enjoyed my 40s every now and then, but I was enmeshed in writing my dissertation, which precluded a lot of television. Yet in the end, or I suppose just today, I̢۪m reminded that this lone commentator, with a simple set, a sometimes annoying laugh, and incessant talk of sipping colortini̢۪s, really helped get me through a most difficult time.

I wish him well.

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Leopold Stotch
About Leopold Stotch
“Dr. Leopold Stotch” was the pseudonym of political science professor then at a major research university inside the beltway. He has a PhD in International Relations. He contributed 165 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and February 2006.


  1. Mark says:

    Tom Snyder is a genius. The last of the great talk show hosts. With Tom it was about the talk. Nowadays it is about shilling product and getting us to consume. With Tom that may have been the purpose of the guest sitting in the chair across from him, but it never came across as the be all and end all of the conversation. Tom and his ilk are greatly missed on TV and in radio. They say everything cycles around with culture, but sadly, I don’t believe there will ever be another cycle of quality TV like there was with Tom and the other greats of his age.

    You are missed every day in my world.

    Our prayers are with you Tom.

  2. OsamaBL says:

    He is a good guy and he has the right attitude in facing what is ahead of him. I worked with in the biz and you can be sure he’ll keep a sense of humor—which can do amazing things when given a chance.