Before the 1971 Cavett show taping, Vidal and Mailer met in the green room as they waited to go on. According to Mailer’s memoir The Time of Our Time (Random House, 1998), he admits to head-butting Vidal. Mailer had read somewhere that a head butt robbed one of the ability to form clear thoughts for 20 minutes. As the footage posted yesterday shows, it did not work.
In 1977, Mailer threw a drink at Vidal and punched him. On the ground, Vidal famously remarked, “As usual, words fail him.”