RIP: New York Talk Show Host Stanley Siegel

By Richard Horgan Comment

Try for a moment to imagine Michael Strahan lying down on a couch once a week for 10 minutes to speak to a psychoanalyst about his personal struggles, while Kelly Ripa takes a coffee break. And… Strahan further framing the weekly on-air sessions with three longer such sessions off-camera.

As crazy as this conjured image seems, it was once a part of WABC’s The Stanley Siegel Show, which debuted in 1975 in the same weekday time slot. From the New York Times obituary by Sam Roberts:

Fearless and sometimes tasteless, Mr. Siegel grilled the transgender former professional tennis player Renée Richards about her sex life; challenged Henry M. Jackson, the starchy Democratic senator from Washington State, to tell a joke (it wasn’t funny); persuaded Gloria Steinem to kick back and do a tap dance; asked his parents if they really got along; and underwent, on camera, weekly 10-minute soul-baring therapy sessions on a couch with a psychoanalyst (followed by three weekly private appointments off camera).

There’s all kinds of other fascinating details in the obituary. For example, as a local TV newscaster, Siegel was way ahead of his time, fired from a Green Bay affiliate for reporting on cafeteria food from the Jello-ed up POV of fruits and vegetables.

The Stanley Siegel Show ran on WABC and WCBS through 1980. Siegel’s other stints encompassed the L.A. Times, WABC’s A.M. New York and stints with TV stations in Tacoma and Nashville. The L.A. native, 79, died in his hometown of pneumonia. RIP.

Editor’s Note:
Via the YouTube comments for the great clip above, we were able to ask Raphael Schwartz about what transpired after the Siegel plea was aired. His reply:

I actually did get a job at WABC-TV channel 7, the same local station that broadcast his show and eventually went on to work for the network in various jobs until I left the TV business in 1985 and have since changed careers multiple times. I am now very happy in my own business and have a daughter who has been a news producer at NBC News and is now a freelance journalist.

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