|J. I. Rodale (1898-1971)|
On this day in history... a man died (big surprise, huh?).
Like the late James Ferrozzo, it wasn't so much that he died, but how he left us. In death, as in life, style and timing are everything.
Jerome Rodale was an early proponent of healthier eating, and his legacy continues today. He was one of the first to support sustainable agriculture, and believed crops should be grown without pesticides. His publishing empire lives on today, with the magazine Prevention, which he founded, and more recent additions such as Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World.
On this day in 1971 he appeared on the then-popular television talk show, The Dick Cavett Show. It aired late-night, but was taped earlier each day in front of a live studio audience.
Mr. Rodale (age 72) was the first guest interviewed, and happily went over his beliefs in living a healthier lifestyle. He promoted the benefits of organic farming, and expressed his optimism over its effects on himself. Things he said during the show included:
"I'm in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way."
"I've decided to live to be 100."
"I never felt better in my life!"
"I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver."
After the interview, Mr. Rodale sat back in his chair as Dick Cavett brought the next guest onstage (New York Post writer Pete Hamill). As Cavett and Hamill chatted, Rodale made a loud snoring noise, and appeared to doze off in his chair. The audience thought he was pretending to be bored, and laughed.
According to witnesses, Cavett asked "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" (Cavett to this day denies making that remark). Hamill looked at Rodale, then turned to Cavett and said "This looks bad."
Two production interns ran onstage and began doing CPR (unsuccessfully) on the healthy-lifestyle advocate as Cavett took the microphone and asked "Is there a doctor in the audience?"
Cavett, in a 2007 interview with the New York Times, said "I thought, 'Good God, I'm in charge here. What do I do?' Next thing I knew I was holding his wrist, thinking, I don't know anything about what a wrist is supposed to feel like."
Mr. Rodale was later found to have suffered a heart attack. The episode was never aired, with the network choosing to show a re-run in its scheduled place.