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David Susskind was an early example of the “intelligent” school of talk show hosts to develop programs during the late 1950s and 1960s.

He spent the early part of his career as a press and talent agent before he went into television program development in the early 1950s. His talk show career began in New York with a late night talk program called “Open End” which premiered in 1958. The show was unique not in that it focused on intelligent and articulate guests, but because the program had no scheduled conclusion and would simply stop when everyone was too tired to talk anymore.

Susskind scored some big interviews. He received a lot of press when he interviewed Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1960. While he liked his program to be intelligent, he also wanted it to be controversial and, at times, confrontational. It is for this type of talk programming that Susskind is remembered by talk fans and his recognition by historians as being a strong influence on future talk television.

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