When it comes to televised talk shows, there’s no telling what might happen. The only thing that’s scripted are the points that the host wants to hit on. Everything else that happens is at the will of the guest or audience. While most guests and hosts manage to act respectfully and go with the flow of the show, that isn’t always the case. Whether it’s an all-out brawl with a white supremacist or people dying during filming, talk shows have it all. Here are some of the most out-of-control things that have ever happened during talk shows.
Dick Cavett had quite the shock when filming a standard episode for his show.
Morton Downey Gets Ruthless With Gid’s Only Stripper
Photo Credits: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
In the 1980s, Morton Downey Jr. had made a name for himself on television as the supposed “king of shock television.” The Morton Downey Jr. Show was known to strike up controversy, offend people, and would often spiral out of control because of Downey’s affinity to often getting hostile towards his guests. One particular incident featured Kellie Everts, the self-proclaimed “stripper for God,” and the episode even shocked some of Downey’s patrons.
In the episode, Downey completely derailed, calling her numerous demeaning names and even making physical contact with her. he repeatedly knocked her with his pelvis, broke her dress strap, and forcibly removing her microphone. Everts went on to file a $40 million damage claim suit for Downey’s humiliation and physical assault against her.
Death On Stage On The Dick Cavett Show
Photo Credits: Bachrach/Getty Images
While acting as host of The Dick Cavett Show, Cavett had numerous questionable moments on air, such as when actors Peter Falk, Ben Gazarra, and John Cassavetes came to the studio totally inebriated. However, the most shocking moment of his show was on September 18, 1970, when health advocate Jerome Rodale went on the show. After spending 30 minutes talking about the organic food lifestyle, Rodale was snoring loudly in his chair.
At first, it seemed to be some joke until they realized something was terribly wrong. After Rodale had just proclaimed that he had “never felt better in his life,” he had died on air at the age of 72 while the cameras were still rolling. Thankfully, Rodale’s death was never aired, although Cavett explained what happened in the next episode.
Geraldo Rivera taught the world not to put white supremacists in the same room with social activists on television.
Madonna Lets Loose On David Letterman
Photo Credits: CBS
One particular talk show known for have very few dull moments was The Late Show With David Letterman. Guests were always unpredictable, and it’s hard to guarantee that celebrities will censor themselves. On March 31, 1994, David Letterman had a young Madonna on the show which set the bar for on-screen antics. Her appearance was packed full of sexual innuendos, with her repeating a certain expletive fourteen times over the course of the interview.
At on point, she even went backstage and got a pair of her underwear asking David Letterman to smell them on camera. Although her antics were shocking, the episode garnered Letterman some of the best ratings that he ever received.
The White Supremacist Brawl
Photo Credits: Paramount Domestic Television
In The 1980s, Geraldo Rivera hosted the daytime television talk show The Geraldo Rivera Show. Things got out of hand in 1988 on the episode “Teenage Hatemongers” which featured a group of young white supremacists debating with African American and Jewish Activists.
Midway through the program, a brawl broke out after 20-year old White Resistance Youth member John Metzger looked to African American guest Roy Innis and said: “I’m sick and tired of Uncle Tom here, sucking up and trying to be a white man.” During the scuffle, Rivera had his nose broken by one of the white supremacists and the episode still aired.
Coming up: Drew Barrymore showed her wild side to David Letterman.
Bill O’Reilly Blames Muslims For 9/11 On The View
Photo Credits: ABC
When Barbara Walter and Bill Geddie established the ABC talk show The View, the intent was to have women from all backgrounds come together and discuss controversial current events. It was clear from there that there would be issues on the show. However, one segment that mainly stuck out was Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on the show in 2010.
While discussing President Obama’s position on Park 51, O’Reilly declared that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” His comment set co-hosts Whoopie Goldberg and Joy Behar on fire, who proceeded to walk off of the stage on the air in disgust. Apparently, Walters was not happy with the women, but they didn’t care.
Drew Barrymore Let It All Hang Out
Photo Credits: CBS
Clearly, anything can happen on David Letterman, and the 1995 episode featuring Drew Barrymore did not disappoint. In what is now considered one of the most famous late-night interviews of all time, Barrymore climbed up on Letterman’s desk as the band began to play a sensual blues song.
She then proceeded to dance for him as Letterman sat not knowing what to do with himself at that exact moment. Then, in honor of his 48th birthday she decided her present would be to flash him, which she then did, setting the bar for future talk show host birthday presents.
See how Andy Kaufman gave the audience exactly what they wanted.
Andy Dick Gets Handsy With Ivanka Trump
Photo Credits: ABC
In 2007, Ivanka Trump was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and joined by comedian Andy Dick. During the episode, Dick repeatedly put his hands on Ivanka in a more than friendly way. At one point, he even commented, “You don’t play up the glitter on your legs?” as he began rubbing her legs.
This kind of “joke” was over the top, even for Andy Dick, who was notorious for his stunts. It eventually became so out of control that Kimmel pleaded, “Andy, please don’t. Donald Trump will kill both of us.” Moments later, Dick was dragged off the stage by security with the help of Jimmy Kimmel.
Andy Kaufman vs. Jerry Lawler
Photo Credits: CBS
In 1982, a heated dispute regarding the nature of wrestling broke out between over-the-top comedian Andy Kaufman and professional wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler. So, to settle things, the two stepped into the ring, and Kaufman wound up in the hospital due to Lawler’s unsportsmanlike behavior. As a follow-up to their infamous fight, David Letterman invited the two onto his show Late Night in 1982 to try and get to the bottom of everything.
In true Kaufman style, Andy spent the majority of the interview prodding and antagonizing Lawler. Once Lawler had had enough, he stood up and slapped Kauffman hard in the face right before a commercial break.
Jim Rome Pushed Jim Everett Too Far
Photo Credits: ESPN
In 1994, weeknight show Talk2 on ESPN was hosted by Jim Rome. During his show, Rome repeatedly kept referring to Jim Everett as “Chris” in reference to the female tennis star. Everett did not take this insult lightly. Everett dared him to say it one more time. When Rome did, Everett flipped the table and attacked Rome.
Rome later admitted that he had “gone too far,” though the ESPN executives did not take any disciplinary action. Although Everett was aware that the whole thing was supposed to be a joke, he reported that he just snapped and didn’t regret his actions.
Michael Richards Blows His Apology
Photo Credits: CBS
After Seinfeld actor Michael Richards went off on an unbelievable racist rant at the Laugh Factory during a stand-up performance, it was up to him to apologize. So, on an episode of The Late Show, Letterman was joined by Jerry Seinfeld as well as Richard, who was on the show via satellite.
Here, he made a public apology about what he said and his actions during his standup. When he was beside himself on what to say, a lot of the audience began to laugh at him which neither Jerry or Michael took kindly too. It also didn’t help that during his apology, Michael Richards apologized to “Afro-Americans.”