After leaving NBC, Dave Garroway tried to put his life back in order, and sought new directions in his career. None, however, could match his prior level of success. In 1962 he hosted a series for National Educational Television called Exploring the Universe, and also hosted radio programs for WCBS in New York. Garroway entered the publishing business, but the magazine he launched, National FM-Radio, ended in a business nightmare. Later in the decade he moved to Boston, where his most notable effort was a 1969 television series called Tempo Boston. Garroway hoped this talk show would get national syndication, but those plans didn’t work out.
After Tempo ended in 1970 Garroway moved to Los Angeles, where he hosted radio programs and tried once more to become a television host. He also took acting lessons, which resulted in occasional bit parts on television series. But in spite of his efforts, nothing really stuck. To friends he lamented, “I’m old hat, old shoe. Nobody wants old Dave any more.”
In his personal life, Dave made improvements, losing weight and eventually kicking his Dexedrine habit. He began dictating notes and compiling material for an autobiography. He stayed in contact with old friends and associates, and made appearances on Today anniversary programs. His love of telescopes introduced him to astronomy professor Sarah Lee Lippincott, a friendship that eventually resulted in marriage. Garroway moved from Los Angeles to Swarthmore to be with her.
A heart condition led to open-heart surgery in 1981, and a staph infection he contracted during the procedure led to some complications. Nevertheless, Garroway was present when Today celebrated its 30th anniversary in a special episode on January 14, 1982. During the two-hour celebration, Garroway shared stories about the old days and proved his wry wit was none the worse for wear. In a note thanking the show’s producer for his hospitality, Garroway closed with, “Now let’s talk about 1987.”
It was not to be. In the months that followed, Garroway’s health complications, co-mingled with the depression he could never conquer, wore away at him. On July 21, 1982, he was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was buried one week later in a cemetery in nearby Bala Cynwyd.
While this is not a comprehensive list, major sources used in compiling this biographical sketch include:
Stephen Battaglio, From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America’s Favorite Morning Show. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2011.
Dave Garroway, unpublished draft of memoir. “Lee H. Lawrence Papers.” Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, College Park. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1488
Robert Metz, The Today Show. New York: Playboy Press, 1978.
Museum of Broadcast Communications. “Garroway at Large.” http://www.museum.tv/eotv/garrowayatl.htm
Wikipedia. “Dave Garroway.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Garroway