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An Unlikely Pair: Woody Allen and Billy Graham

Filed under: The Squib Report   Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Martin Schneider writes:

Kevin Drum flags an interesting comment by Woody Allen on the benefits of belief, from an interview with Ronald Lauder:

I was with Billy Graham once, and he said that even if it turned out in the end that there is no God and the universe is empty, he would still have had a better life than me. I understand that. If you can delude yourself by believing that there is some kind of Santa Claus out there who is going to bail you out in the end, then it will help you get through. Even if you are proven wrong in the end, you would have had a better life.

It reminded me that a few weeks ago, I watched Woody Allen interview Billy Graham on The Woody Allen Show (1969). That telecast was a curious kind of variety show that also featured some sketches and a performance by The Fifth Dimension. (The commercials, all for Libby's canned vegetables and featuring Tony Randall as an inept sleuth, are quite amusing in a Mad Men-ish way.)

In the interview, Allen and Graham treat each other with affable respect; it's quite fascinating to watch them discuss the merits of legalizing marijuana. It's easy to see why Graham was so greatly admired during his life. It's funny that we consider 1969 the high-water mark for cultural turmoil in the United States, but after a generation's worth of culture wars, it's very difficult to imagine such a civil conversation between, say, Zach Galifianakis and Rick Warren. (Even on Oprah.) You also get to see Allen in a rabbi getup (but not during the interview).

You can watch the entire show here.

I am indebted to WFMU's "Listener Kliph Nesteroff" for making this show known to me, in his detailed and engrossing account of Allen's early years. Nesteroff has done the same noble service for David Letterman, George Carlin, Betty White, and others. Look out for those as well.


Robert Lauder, priest, not Ronald Lauder, politically-involved, art-collecting millionaire. I was intrigued by the idea, though. And loved the link to Listener Kliph’s blog post.

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