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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
US chat show veteran Douglas dies
Mike Douglas in 1972
Douglas sang as Prince Charming in classic Disney animation Cinderella
Chat show host Mike Douglas, seen daily on US TV throughout the 1960s and '70s, has died on his 81st birthday.

He interviewed seven US presidents, co-hosted for a week with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and featured future golf champion Tiger Woods at the age of two.

Douglas was a big band singer who was on the verge of leaving showbusiness before his TV career took off in 1961.

His Emmy-winning show was seen in about 230 cities - virtually all of the major US television markets - at its peak.

"It was really a music show, with a whole lot of talk and laughter in between numbers," he said.

Born Michael Dowd in Chicago in 1925, he served in the Navy for a time during World War II, and then began singing professionally.

CNN interviewer Larry King paid tribute to him, saying he was "a genuine, nice guy, not a mean bone in his body".

He told the AP news agency: "He had a geniality about him. It was easy to be around him."

Memories

Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra were among the musical stars who appeared as guests during the show's 21-year run.

Mike Douglas in 1997
The host was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame in 1997
However, the stint with Lennon and Ono in 1972 tested Douglas's patience, as he confided in his autobiography.

He was unhappy that the former Beatle and his wife had invited the well-known anti-war activist Jerry Rubin on to the programme.

Rubin "just got on my nerves", Douglas said.

"It sounded like this guy hated the president, the Congress, everyone in business, the military, all police and just about everything America stands for."

But he praised Lennon for acting as a "kind and gentle host", "reinterpreting Jerry's comments to take some of the sting out and adding a little humour to keep things cool".

Douglas also had fond memories of Woods, who was only a toddler when he appeared on the show in 1978, but was already gaining attention for his interest in golf.

Veteran entertainer Bob Hope watched on as Woods made his first televised putt.

"I don't know what kind of drugs they've got this kid on, but I want some," Hope joked.


SEE ALSO
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