David Frost, the veteran British broadcaster, died on Saturday at the age of 74. Best known for his 1977 interview with disgraced American President Richard Nixon, Frost began his career in 1962 hosting That Was The Week That Was, a satirical program that took on the most important issues of the day. But then, he moved on to made a career of interviewing the powerful and famous on a variety of shows for a number of networks. He asked the tough questions, often veering into uncomfortable territory. The Daily Beast takes a look back at some of his best moments.
Interview with Richard Nixon
Three years after resigning the presidency, Richard Nixon agreed to sit down with Frost in May 1977 (only after the latter agreed to pay for the interview). The pair spoke for close to 30 hours, during which time Nixon let his guard down and told Frost, "When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." Nixon also dropped this gem during the interview, "I know a lot of people, I can understand it, say gee whiz, it just isn't fair for an individual to get off with a pardon simply because he happens to have been president when another individual goes to trial and maybe has to serve a prison sentence for it. I can understand how they feel. I can only say that no one in the world, no one in our history, could know how I felt. No one could know how it feels to resign the presidency of the United States. Is that punishment enough? Probably not." The famous interview was eventually made into a play and a movie.
Interview with Margaret Thatcher about the sinking of the Belgrano
In this June 1985 interview, Frost pointedly asked Thatcher if she thought the fact that the government covered up the sinking of the Belgrano, an Argentinian ship many believe was on its way to dock on the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War, hurt the credibility of her government. Thatcher said no and disagreed that there was a cover-up, but Frost pressed, "When you said ... that it was not sailing away from the Falklands, was that a deliberate mistake or an accidental mistake?" He followed up with, "It's either sailing away or it isn't sailing away. That's just plain English."
Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
In 1969, Frost questioned John Lennon and Yoko Ono about their message and whether people would purchase their records. The interview got a little heated. "If we're selling a simple truth that peace is an alternative to what's going on the reason they don't dig it or understand it is because they're so conditioned to believe that it's inevitable and man is a violent animal who will always kill things," Lennon said. "But is it too simple a truth," Frost countered? "Well, what is too simple about me not killing you now?" Lennon responded.
Interview with the Shah of Iran
Frost scored an exclusive interview with the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, after he was driven from power. Frost conducted the interview in Panama in 1979. The journalist pulled no punches, asking the deposed leader if he should face a U.N. tribunal for the accusations that he committed crimes against the Iranian people.
Interview with Emil Savundra
In 1967, Frost took on Emil Savundra, a businessman who was eventually convicted of fraud. As this clip shows, Savundra offered low-cost insurance but failed to pay out to his customers. Frost had several of Savundra's customers in his audience to share their stories with his company. By the end of the interview, Frost was standing in Savundra's face, demanding an answer for why he wasn't morally responsible for his customers' suffering. When Savundra said he delegated responsibility, Frost responded, "You're now saying that you have this man who is responsible. If you knew him for 10 years, how on Earth could you let him run this company? You have either to be stupid or dishonest."
Interview with Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali sat down with Frost in 1974 before his fight with George Foreman. Ali showed his verbal sparring skills from the get-go, telling Frost, "Listen David, when I meet this man, if you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait till I whip Foreman’s behind." And when Ali said that he wrestled an alligator to prepare for the bout, Frost replied, "I believe you totally," much to the delight of the crowd.