Today is the birthday of David Steinberg (b. 1942). In the late 60s and early 70s there was no one hotter in show business. Steinberg was a constant presence in the television landscape I first knew. He was always on The Tonight Show, The Smothers Brothers, as well as shows he starred in like The David Steinberg Show and the one we cite below The Music Scene. After the mid 70s he seemed to vanish from the map, although the fact is that he has had a flourishing career for the past several decades — he has just ceased to be the center of attention.
Steinberg was never the funniest comedian in the world, but he had enormous appeal: good looking, charming, extremely likable, and hip in the way Dick Cavett was hip: soft-spoken, intelligent, understated. A Canadian Jew, he wore a Beatle-like haircut and had an anti-establishment edge that resonated with younger audiences.
This is just around the same time Groucho Marx was courting younger audiences. Hippies and radicals loved Groucho’s irreverence and anarchistic personality. Groucho could be sort of a loose cannon in these late interviews. Steinberg has a very hard time keeping him in line in the 1970 interview below from The Music Scene. It isn’t the most hilarious exchange in history, but it’s a wonderful glimpse of another time.
Now, Groucho has been especially on our mind of late, as we have been directing and producing an adaptation of the Broadway show that preceded it, one that was never filmed or revived — til now. It’s called I’ll Say She Is (1924). It opens tomorrow in the New York International Fringe Festival! Tickets and info here.