Here is an interesting curiousity -- a 26-minute appearance by Ayn Rand on the "Tonight" show, back in 1967. Alex Tabarrok comments, "An excellent interview with Ayn Rand on the Tonight show. Newly discovered. Good questions from Johnny and Ed. Even aside from the content, much to learn, a quiet audience, respectful 26 minute discussion, genuine intelligence all round."
I only watched part of it, but it's interesting seeing a serious discussion on such a popular show. And it makes me sad, thinking that Robert Anton Wilson was anxious to get on television to have a chance to popularize his ideas and never really got much of a platform. (If he was ever on National Public Radio, which also could have helped him reach an audience, I've never heard about it. I mean, as part of a nationally broadcast show, as opposed to appearances on local radio stations).
It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Ayn Rand was a best selling, very well known author, hence her "Tonight Show" invitations. But if RAW had not been frozen out of the major book reviewing publications and TV and radio networks, he likely would have sold more books. I don't think coverage of Illuminatus! ever got beyond niche publications such as science fiction magazines. It didn't get a review, for example, in the New York Times. For most of his life, RAW lived in an era of just a few powerful TV networks and newspapers, and the "gatekeepers" didn't take a chance and let him in.
The most exposure RAW ever got on TV was an appearance (05/23/1996) in the "Politically Incorrect" TV show starring Bill Maher, as a substitute for Timothy Leary, who was too sick to show up. Many of you have likely seen it, but if you haven't, see below. (Posted on YouTube by Mike Gathers.)
I heard him on NPR once. Margot Adler did a report on conspiracy theories, and Wilson was one of the interviewees. This would have been somewhere in the 1994-96 zone.
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