A Year: Day to Day Men: 7th of April, Solar Year 2018

A Casual Pose

On April 7, 1939 David Frost, the journalist and writer, was born in Tenterdon, England.

David Frost was chosen by writer and producer Ned Sherrin to host the satirical program “That Was the Week That Was” (TW3) after Frost’s flatmate John Bird suggested Sherrin should see Frost’s cabaret act at The Blue Angel nightclub. The series, which ran for less than 18 months during 1962–63, was part of the satire boom in early 1960s Britain and became a popular program.

In 1968 Frost signed a contract worth £125,000 to appear on American television in his own show on three evenings each week, the largest such arrangement for a British television personality at the time. From 1969 to 1972, hosted “The David Frost Show” on the Group W (U.S. Westinghouse Corporation) television stations in the United States. Throughout the years of his show, David Frost, known for his personalized style of interviews, spoke with such personalities as Jack Benny, Tennessee Williams, and Muhammad Ali; he was also the last person to interview Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the deposed Shah of Iran following the 1979 Iranian revolution.

In 1977 “The Nixon Interviews”, a series of five 90-minute interviews with former US President Richard Nixon, were broadcast. Nixon was paid $600,000 plus a share of the profits for the interviews, which had to be funded by Frost himself after the US television networks turned down the program, describing it as “checkbook journalism”. Frost’s company negotiated its own deals to syndicate the interviews with local stations across the US and internationally, creating what filmmaker Ron Howard described as “the first fourth network.”

For the show, David Frost taped around 29 hours of interviews with Nixon over a period of four weeks. Nixon, who had previously avoided discussing his role in the watergate scandal which had led to his resignation as President in 1974, expressed contrition saying “I let the American people down and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life”.

David Frost was the only person to have interviewed all eight British Prime Ministers serving between 1964 and 2014 and all seven US Presidents in office between 1969 and 2008. He was very active with the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. His conversations with Nixon became the subject of Ron Howard’s 2008 film “Frost/Nixon”, nominated for five Golden Globes and for five Academy Awards. David Frost died on August 31, 2013 at the age of 74 on board the cruise ship MS Queen Elizabeth, on which he was engaged as a speaker. His memorial stone is in Poet’s Corner of the Westminster Abbey for his contribution to British culture.

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