Hard to believe that Friday marked the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation speech.
I was already working at my first newspaper job at the time. I was a copy clerk at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. I spent a good part of that evening running back and forth between the newsroom and the composing room (on the next floor), as the managing editor sent me up to have various headlines blown up to full page-width, and I brought full-sized proof of those heds back down for him to peruse.
That was how you did an eye-popping, historic headline in those days. Now, you’d just try various heds on your screen, and see immediately how they’d look on the page. Then, with the news pages still done on hot type (loud, clanking linotype machines, cutting-edge technology in the late 19th century), we had to get the hed set in the desired font by a compositor, have a high-resolution proof of it made, and have a camera shoot it at the right distance and magnification to blow it up on the page camera — a process even more tedious than that employed by David Hemmings in Antonioni’s “Blow-Up.” Then, a proof was made of that.
At least, I think that’s how we did it. It’s been so long.
I saved at least one of those proofs I brought down to the M.E. Don’t know what I did with it.
Anyway, to celebrate the milestone, I share the above weird little video with Harry Shearer playing Nixon. Here’s a description of the video:
In a new video just posted online, Harry Shearer inhabits Richard Nixon in a verbatim comedic re-creation of Nixon’s poignant last 6 minutes before he resigned the Presidency, forty years ago today.
This excerpt, from Shearer‘s TV series “Nixon’s The One,” includes Nixon’s previously little known – and surprising – words to the CBS camera crew, which Shearer uncovered using advanced audio restoration techniques.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
For the rest of “Nixon’s The One,” Shearer and his co-writer Nixon historian Stanley Kutler combed through thousands of hours of the legendary Nixon audio tapes, and re-enacted word for word the best moments as if filmed by a hidden camera.
“Nixon was one of the great comic characters of the 20th century,” Shearersays. “When I first began listening to his secret tapes, the revelation to me was the crazy conversations that went on in this place on the public dime. Stanley and I aimed to be as accurate as humanly possible in the way these lines are spoken, in the intonations, in the pauses, in the way people interact. Our job was to be faithful transmitters of this incredible record of craziness.”
Stay tuned for more news on the US launch of the series in fall 2014, which aired earlier this year on Sky Arts in the UK.