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Larry King Live

Cybill Shepherd Discusses `Cybill Disobedience'

Aired April 6, 2000 - 9:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CYBILL SHEPHERD, ACTRESS: ... when I got to New York.

LARRY KING, HOST: From?

SHEPHERD: From Memphis, Tennessee, 1968. And somehow I managed -- it wasn't until many years later that I read a book about the modeling business at that time that everybody was drugs...

KING: You weren't?

SHEPHERD: Except me, and I was wondering why they were acting so weird?

KING: Were you Miss Memphis?

SHEPHERD: I was Miss Teenage Memphis.

KING: So were a beauty, right, in high school? You were a...

SHEPHERD: I didn't -- yes, I was voted most attractive my senior year in high school, but I was homecoming queen, and I went to the Miss Teenage America Pageant and didn't even make it as one of the seven finalists.

KING: Did you leave Memphis with idea I am going to be a big model? Did you?

SHEPHERD: No, I always hated modeling. I developed an early hatred of modeling just from having to do it; having won Miss Teenage Memphis, I had to model, and I hated it. It bored me. I was always very bored with modeling.

KING: So you were always look going break away from it, even though you were very successful?

SHEPHERD: Well, it was my way out of Memphis. It my way to be financially independent. At 18 years old, that's a fantastic thing, to be financially independent.

KING: How'd you handle it?

SHEPHERD: I handled that well -- the money. (LAUGHTER)

KING: You did? You were able to handle your money well? You handled your money well?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I did. The money, I handled it OK. I didn't care about being rich. I didn't care about making a lot of money until I had my first child, then I started to go like, OK, I have to have some financial security here. But up until then, I wanted to find out what I could do good in my life.

KING: Did you leave a boy in Memphis?

SHEPHERD: Several.

KING: Strung-out hearts along the highway?

SHEPHERD: Just a couple of them. Just a couple of them.

KING: Ever close to marrying any one in Memphis?

SHEPHERD: Well, I thought so. I thought I was at 15. But it turns out that first love was not really a first love.

KING: What made it for you in modeling? Was there a particular shoot?

SHEPHERD: There was a particular shoot with "Glamour" magazine. Frank Harbas (ph), the photographer, criticized me the minute I came out and just said you're really bad at this, you've some really bad habits, you have to stop -- you're a really bad model. And I went, why? What do you mean? He said, you're just faking it, you just have to really start really looking at what you're looking and really think. And actually, what he was doing was giving me my first acting job, and then I did really well with him. And That was my start on "Glamour" magazine.

KING: Are models acting?

SHEPHERD: Well, I think that the most interesting models appear to be thinking, and certainly acting -- the camera I think photographs thought, and it makes for a much more interesting photograph to feel that the model is thinking.

KING: Do they have you modeling everything -- suits, bathing suits, coats, everything?

SHEPHERD: Well, I was always too -- I was always overweight as far as models go.

KING: You were chunky on the model end? You weren't a "Vogue" pinstripe.

SHEPHERD: Well, but see, I was very, very fortunate in the time I started modeling, there seemed to be this brief window of opportunity where it was OK for models to look like regular women and like we enjoyed life.

KING: As opposed to near death and skinny.

SHEPHERD: Yes, and it was okay to look kind of like a woman. I mean, I was skinnier then than I am now, naturally at 50, put on a few pounds. But you know, I have everything I had in my 20s, Larry.

KING: I'll bet. We're going to get into some of that.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So you were a very successful model, making a lot of money, right?

SHEPHERD: Well, it wasn't the era of the supermodels, you know, like we think of today, like million dollar contracts. I think I made when I started like $30 an hour, which is not a bad hourly rate, and then I got up to like $100 a model, and then I did "The Last Picture Show," and then it kind changed.

KING: And how did you get that part?

SHEPHERD: The cover of "Glamour" magazine. Peter Bogdanovich ...

KING: Peter Bogdanovich who later became your -- one of the loves of your life.

SHEPHERD: That's right. That's right.

KING: He spotted the cover of "Glamour" and hired you for that off that?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: He called up and said "I want you to be in a movie?"

SHEPHERD: He had them track down the casting agent. It was Marianne Dougherty (ph) in New York, and track down that girl, and I went to see Marianne a few times. And one time I had to wear a bikini. And I said, why do I have to wear a bikini? And they said, well, they just want to make sure you don't have any scars on your body, and I was really kind of embarrassed, but I did bathing suit shoots sometimes. And there was a nude scene, I guessed, and there was a nude scene. I actually ended up doing several nude scenes in "The Last picture Show" but I...

KING: Didn't mind?

SHEPHERD: It was horrifying actually, quite horrifying.

KING: We'll ask about that. We'll be right back with Cybill Shepherd. The book is "Cybill Disobedience," great title. She's 50, got three kids, one grown, like 20 years old.

We'll be right back. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LAST PICTURE SHOW")

SHEPHERD: My Christmas present. Oh goodness, I didn't buy you anything yet.

JEFF BRIDGES, ACTOR: Oh, that's OK.

SHEPHERD: I just went to the shop.

BRIDGES: Do you like it? I saved up for six months to get it.

SHEPHERD: Oh, it's just beautiful. It's just what I've been wanting. You're so sweet spending all of that money on me.

Oh, you're so sexy, Duane.

I just wish I didn't have to leave you tonight.

BRIDGES: Well, you don't.

SHEPHERD: Oh, I do too. It's killing my mother.

BRIDGES: What do you mean?

SHEPHERD: She made me promise to go to a swim party in Wichita, with what's his name, Lester Marlow.

BRIDGES: God damn, what kind of thing is that?

SHEPHERD: Don't be mad at me at, Duane.

BRIDGES: I ain't mad at you, but goddamnit.

SHEPHERD: Lester calls, he keeps asking...

BRIDGES: Well, God Damn.

SHEPHERD: All I want to do is stay with the man I love.

BRIDGES: God damn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Cybill Shepherd.

OK, it's movie time.

How did you feel about acting? Did you like it?

SHEPHERD: Yes. I really didn't learn to love it, though, until I did the theater, did live theater.

KING: Did you get a crush on Peter right away?

SHEPHERD: I did instantly, yes.

KING: He was much older than you.

SHEPHERD: Yes, and he was married.

KING: So how did you handle that? You were how old?

SHEPHERD: Avoided it. We just didn't do anything until I would say two-thirds of the way through the shooting of "The Last picture Show," and then we became involved.

KING: How did you deal with that? You're a young girl, you've come from New York, you're making your first movie, you're in love with the director, and he's married?

SHEPHERD: Well, I was also playing a charterer that I really hated. Jacy in "The Last Picture Show" is the height of narcissism, just destroying men right and left with no concern, other than how bad it makes her feel. And I hated it at the time, because I thought everybody always thought I was like that, you know, and I am not like that. I am the sweet girl next door.

In writing this book, looking back, I actually realized that I was far more of Jacy than I would like to think now. And it was -- we put a lot of people through a lot of pain. I mean, that was something very difficult.

KING: Was it widely known? Was it printed? I mean, it got out.

SHEPHERD: Hugely, once we were living together, yes.

KING: He left his wife for you, right?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: Did you feel like you broke up a marriage?

SHEPHERD: I don't know. I don't -- I am not proud of that, I have to say, at all. It's been a very important friendship with Peter Bogdanovich. We're great friends now. I am certainly not proud of that. I'd always like to think -- like now, I don't fool around with married men, so.

KING: Why did it end?

SHEPHERD: We were ready to move on to something else. We were also involved in the '70s, which was a really wild time. Make love, not war was a common bumper sticker. And Neither Peter nor I were really ever interested in the institution of marriage, or for that matter, necessarily, monogamy.

KING: You mean, you went out, you did what you wanted to do, he did what he wanted to do, even though you live together?

SHEPHERD: Yes, it was just like don't cheat on me when you're in the same city was kind of our attitude. KING: Can you explain to people who are watching what that life was like?

SHEPHERD: Well, it wasn't the greatest thing in the world. I certainly wouldn't want to live it again, because I just don't like to lie about sex. I started out -- the only way to survive as a sexual being, growing up in the time I did and the place I did, was to lie about sex. I mean, that's the biggest way I was disobedient with my parents. Otherwise, I towed the line. And I continued to lie about sex.

(CROSSTALK)

SHEPHERD: I lied to my parents about sex. I lied to Peter about sex. I lied mostly to a lot of people about sex in order to have more sex with other people. With the birth of my first child and my involvement with my first husband, I basically stopped lying. I just didn't want to lie anymore, because it reduces the stature of the person you're lying to. So much of -- that's why in the subtitle what you're reading, we talked about lies. Lying is -- life's too short for lies.

KING: Did you feel at all, based on the way we're all raised, badly that you liked sex so much?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I had to disconnect from the fact that I was overwhelmed with the early pleasure of my first sexual experiences.

KING: Because girls who like sex are bad, right?

SHEPHERD: Right.

KING: That's the way we're raised. If you're a man you like sex, you're normal; if you're a girl and like sex, you are bad.

SHEPHERD: That's right. You're not supposed to do it. And when you do it, you're not supposed enjoy it, and you're certainly not supposed to talk about it. It's a really...

KING: So did you feel funny in and of yourself?

SHEPHERD: I allowed myself to still believe that I was a good person by believing that I was out of control, when in fact I wasn't out of control. And it wasn't until much later in psychotherapy that I would realize that would be one of the first myths that I'd break, is that when I am sexually aroused, that I cannot stop.

KING: Were you often the aggressor then?

SHEPHERD: No.

KING: But you're so -- I mean, men came on to you all the time, right? I mean, let's be logical. Correct?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I've had quite a few... KING: Why did you choose to be so honest in the book, like in saying who you slept with and naming names? Kind of a tell-all tell- all?

SHEPHERD: Well, It's not a tell-all, because I would end up in jail if I really told it all. And I don't name -- quite a few names I don't name. It doesn't really matter who the people are. It's really -- I had to be honest or there was no point of doing the book. I have taken chances for a long time. I took a chance in talking about menopause. I've taken a chance in speaking out about feminist issues and pro-choice, and I was not about to disappoint my audience by not telling the truth.

So it was the harshest -- the person who is dealt with the harshest in the book is Cybill Shepherd.

KING: Bruce Willis, who you did not have sexual relations.

SHEPHERD: That's right. He also has a great sense of humor. I think he'd get a kick out of it.

KING: But you were tough on him in this book, were you not?

SHEPHERD: No, actually not at all. I didn't think so, about Bruce Willis. No, I thought it was quite fair.

KING: About "Moonlighting," though, you called him a jerk.

SHEPHERD: Oh, he was playing David Addison on "Moonlighting," who was a jerk.

KING: But he wasn't a jerk off? Or was he?

SHEPHERD: Well, you know, when somebody gets to be famous, it's usually difficult to handle, and I did have to live through his first being famous. I mean, I'm sure I was pretty intolerable. As a matter of fact, I am sure I was my first time I became famous also. But very complimentary about Bruce in -- and our work together, because it's on again, "Moonlighting." And I actually have had an opportunity to see the "Moonlighting" marathon for 17 hours, and I was so thrilled. I never for a second thought, "Why are they giving him all the funny lines?" It didn't enter my head about anything, any anger that we might have had.

I thought I was wonderful. I thought he was wonderful. And Glenn Caron did a brilliant script. And I was so thankful and thrilled that something I'd done still holds up.

KING: How many shows did you actually do?

SHEPHERD: We only did 60.

KING: Sixty?

SHEPHERD: Sixty hours, yes.

KING: People thought there were less probably, because we never knew when that show was going or coming?

SHEPHERD: That's right. There was a lot of controversy, and there was a lot of fighting, and there was a lot of -- but I mean, ultimately, all that doesn't matter. What matters is the work is great and we had an opportunity to do great work.

KING: It did work, and the chemistry worked.

We'll be right back with Cybill Shepherd. The book is "Cybill Disobedience." This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: ... in the very honest, very well-written "Cybill Disobedience."

Let's tin-type some things. I want to get into other bases, too.

Elvis Presley -- how did you meet? What was he like?

SHEPHERD: He was a brilliant man. I had somebody ask me a question just the other day, was Elvis somewhat childlike? I said, well, in the best sense, he was brilliant, he was funny, he was warm- hearted.

I really think that the drugs were the problem with Elvis Presley. And as I say in my book and also a song that I wrote called "Graceland Revisited," once I went back to Graceland and could allow myself to mourn the death of Elvis Presley, I also went back and found out that he was a very spiritual man in ways I couldn't appreciate 25 years before.

KING: Very socially liberal.

SHEPHERD: Well, very searching in trying to be a good person and trying to find a way, and I respect that. I feel like now I could be such a good friend of his, and I'm sorry he's not around.

KING: The recording of "In the Ghetto" took guts at the time. Colonel Parker didn't want to do it.

How did the relationship between you and Elvis begin? You never worked together, did you?

SHEPHERD: No, we never worked together. George Klein, who had been the moderator at the Miss Teenage Memphis Pageant, called me up -- he was a friend of Elvis' -- one day, and said Elvis would like to meet you. And I said, OK, but he has to call me, and he has to pick me up. And later on -- actually, I just went to a movie theater to meet him. I said, can I bring my girlfriend, my best girlfriend, and he said sure.

KING: Where'd you go? Memphis?

SHEPHERD: Oh yes, I was in Memphis. See, Elvis never did have a problem with two girls.

KING: No, I heard.

And so what was that first night like?

SHEPHERD: Well, we got there and they wouldn't let us sit down in the theater, and we were, like, really bored standing around the theater, and finally they let us in, and we sat down, and we waited and waited.

KING: You mean, they were holding him on the side, like...

SHEPHERD: Yes, they wouldn't let -- like when you meet the queen of England, they always, like, bring the queen in and then everybody else is allowed to sit there or something, but you're not allowed to go in until the queen arrives. Well, this is sort of like the king, so finally we went in and we sat down and they lowered those lights, and I thought, well, I guess he's a no show, because the movie's going to start because it dark. But instead, everybody in the row to my right got up and moved one seat over. And I saw him coming in. And I couldn't see him, because it was still pretty dark. And I could smell him before I could see him. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what that cologne was. Maybe it just Ode to Elvis.

KING: Did you hit it off right away?

SHEPHERD: Yes. He's a tremendously sexy man, person, wonderful, delightful.

KING: Did you ever think something serious would come of the relationship?

SHEPHERD: Well, the Elvis that I got to know in Memphis was very different than the Elvis that I got to know later, like in Las Vegas. I think that the pressure of performing, as much as he loved it and as brilliant as he was at it, increased his drug use would be my guess. I'll never know for sure. But I felt that...

KING: He was a good friend while he was using?

SHEPHERD: I think he was probably using all the time, but maybe he was using -- I don't know, but my guess would be that performing, he was probably using more. And I just noticed that he was unavailable in a way. And then later on, years, years later, I would read and find out that he had, like, two other women there at the same time. Elvis always had like three or four women.

KING: In the hotel?

SHEPHERD: Oh yes, like on different floors, maybe on the same floor.

KING: You mean, he'd be with you and then be with another one, and that didn't bother...

SHEPHERD: He'd wedged me in between, I think it Linda Thompson and some other...

KING: That didn't bother you when you learned...

SHEPHERD: I didn't -- did it bother me?

KING: You didn't know at the time.

SHEPHERD: It made more sense, I guess, that he was sort of less available. But that -- even though I didn't know then at the time, it could never have worked with Elvis and I, because I saw the drug use in Las Vegas.

KING: I have never heard a bad word about him. In other words, I never heard anyone in show business who said he was a bad guy.

Did you? Have you ever heard bad words about him?

SHEPHERD: Not too much.

KING: I mean, he was pretty much known as a good guy, right?

SHEPHERD: Yes, he was a very sweet person.

KING: Did you love him?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I think I did.

KING: Been in love a lot, Cybill?

SHEPHERD: Yes. I think I've been in love a lot. I am not sure.

KING: Every time when that happens, do you think this is it? Like this last guy who just dumped you, was he going to be it?

SHEPHERD: I thought so, yes.

KING: Why would anyone dump you?

SHEPHERD: I don't know. I think he did he a favor. I think he did me a big favor.

KING: How do you dump Cybill Shepherd? What do you say? Goodbye? Come on, fill us in on this, because you're a man's fantasy. Men got to be thinking all over the world, boy, could I really dump this.

SHEPHERD: I think the fantasy part and the celebrity part, maybe even the way I look part is kind of like the gift wrapping on a package that makes me appear so -- maybe more desirable, and then when you get to know me off the pedestal, I am just the normal person with the weaknesses and just like normal.

KING: So you get dumped like other people get dumped?

SHEPHERD: Right. I talk about glamour -- I really don't like it when people refer know as glamorous, and I don't mean to be ungrateful at everything I've had, but so much as I feel like when they use the word "glamour," they're going to deny me some other human attribute, like suffering or the normal things that people go through, human beings go through.

KING: You have all of those?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I do.

KING: You said this is one of the reasons you wrote book. You must have been very hurt?

SHEPHERD: Yes, this was a process. And I felt that I wasn't really sure what I would end up with at the end of the process. It was very painful to look back. I had amends to make to, particularly, I think to Peter Bogdanovich and anybody else that I lied to during that Peter I was lying like that. And I think I even complained once to my father not too long ago about when my daughter was a teenager about the hard time she was giving me, and he said to me, I don't want to ever hear you complain after the torture you put us through.

KING: We'll be right back with Cybill Shepherd, who doesn't lie anymore.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LOREAL COMMERCIAL)

SHEPHERD: Some people say I'm attractive. I say I agree. After all, I had nothing to do with it. I owe that to my mother and father. But how I take care of my looks is up to me. And for my hair, only performing preference will do. It gives my hair layers of light because the color's translucent, and my hair is always healthy looking and fit. Do I deserve such riches? only if I think I am worth it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Your daughter Clementine is getting married. Would you like her to be like you?

SHEPHERD: I am very proud of her. I think she can be a lot more honest about who she is as a sexual being with me than I could be with my parents because of the time I was born, in 1950. And I am just really proud of who she is. She's very different. I don't know. I just -- I like her a lot.

KING: Were you open with her in raising her?

SHEPHERD: Very open.

KING: Discuss sex openly with her?

SHEPHERD: Our silence is not going to protect us. We know that.

KING: Why do you think sex is such a hangup in America? Why do you think so many people are so into either it's a sin, or this, or it's that, or it's horrible, or it's terrible, or it's wonderful? Why?

SHEPHERD: Well, I think it's hard, certainly for women, to be honest about their sexuality, just like we were talking earlier. We have to be able to talk about our experiences and why we went through what we did and communicate. I mean, I think more than anything, sex is probably about communication, and that's what can make it better as you get older, because you know more of what you don't want, more of what you say yes to, and more of what you want to say no to, and the honesty is what makes for great sex, I think.

KING: Why is it a hangup to so many people?

SHEPHERD: I think there's kind of a new Puritanism. I've noticed it. And I try to be very open with my children. Children have to have certain information or they can't protect themselves. I mean, it's very common for children to become sexually active at 12 years old. We don't want our children to become sexually active at 12 years old; we want them to wait for so many reasons.

KING: It's never good to be active.

SHEPHERD: The later you wait, the better.

KING: Of course.

SHEPHERD: No question about it. But I don't think we give -- or do our children a favor by not being honest with them. I think for my children, they read about my sex life in the tabloids, all the lies. And you know, I wanted to at least tell it from my side. And I am not a Puritan. I wanted to be really honest with them.

KING: You're very open in the book. You write about stunt men and others, your OB/GYN, right?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: If you were attracted, did you go for it? Can we sum up Cybill Shepherd that way, that if you found a man attractive, let's do it?

SHEPHERD: Well, we each have that same maternal voice or parental voice in our head that tells us what's good or what's bad. And I think because of being born in 1950 and coming of age in 1968 with the pill and the new feminism and women's liberation, I threw out that maternal voice, and I did not have that little guide to help me. And I had to find, had to make a lot of mistakes. And certainly, I did not believe that sex was bad. I thought it was a wonderful thing, sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is a radical political concept, women's sexual pleasure particularly, and that's why it was so honest for me to talk about in my book, so I could talk about how I became a radical feminist and became politicized.

KING: Yet some of the antifeminist think that's it's non-sexual movement, that it's all people who are hung up about sex. SHEPHERD: I think everybody is kind of hung up in some way about sex. I mean everybody's got -- I haven't figured it out. This book is definitely a "how not to," not a "how to."

KING: Don't be Cybill.

SHEPHERD: No, I wouldn't -- I would hope that maybe my kids would read this and yell, well, I certainly don't have to do that.

KING: Was there any qualms in writing a book your kids would read?

SHEPHERD: Of course. And I wanted to make very sure that I was very proud and very -- you know, my 12-year-olds I did not -- this is an adult book.

KING: It's not written for a 12-year-old?

SHEPHERD: It's not, it's not, it's not. But I let them read some of it. And you know, they know me pretty well. And I'm very open with them.

KING: Right back with more of Cybill Shepherd. The book is "Cybill Disobedience."

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Cybill Shepherd, the author of the very honest "Cybill Disobedience." You talk about sexual politics in life. Was that one of the things you were thinking about when you were thinking of running?

SHEPHERD: Well, I've been politically involved for a really long time. Growing up in the segregated South, it was a very painful experience for me to live through the open racism of the time. And I remember when Martin Luther King was killed in 1968 feeling stricken really that I had not become...

KING: You were 18.

SHEPHERD: I was 18 and that I hadn't marched with Martin Luther King, and now it was too late.

KING: Where were you when King was shot?

SHEPHERD: I was standing right outside my high school, East High School in Memphis, Tennessee about 2 1/2 miles from where he was shot. We couldn't hear the shot. But the odd thing is I recall no one mentioning it at our high school graduation nor at the church the following Sunday, which was Palm Sunday.

KING: No one mentioned it?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I remember -- I recall no one mentioning it. No one could talk about it. It was so scary a subject. It was so -- and -- so I think...

KING: Was there collective guilt in the city?

SHEPHERD: Fear, and there should be should be some guilt on everybody -- I mean, everybody is prejudiced to a certain extent, but we want to try to be as little as possible.

KING: Did you regard yourself as different?

SHEPHERD: I was set aside as different quite early on because of my beauty, and I think the worst thing in the world is to hear somebody complain. But at 50 years old, I can start talking about being beautiful in a different way, because I look different than I did when I was 18. And though beauty was a great thing that benefited me hugely and for which I'll ever be grateful to my parents for, it also trapped me in a certain way.

It was -- people were not interested -- it didn't matter how hard I worked at something. All they cared about was the thing that came the easiest, which was the way I looked.

So I talk about that. I talk about there is something -- you lose something. You do suffer. My mother used to say to me, "Cybill, you have got to suffer to be beautiful." And she was right. She meant wear the girdles and she meant wear the pointy high heels and she meant act like a lady. But the truth is that everybody suffers that's alive and there's...

KING: All right. But being beautiful has its downside, right?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: Obviously. We put -- we tend not to give you credit for brains, the blond beauty, that kind of image kind of thing. What are the other downsides? Do you intimidate men?

SHEPHERD: I -- do I?

KING: Some, I would imagine, do -- the old stories of the beautiful women alone on Saturday night.

SHEPHERD: Oh, I certainly have spent a lot of Saturday nights alone, but I mean, I could have been with someone if I wanted to.

KING: So you never felt that men were afraid to ask you out?

SHEPHERD: Mmm -- I'm not sure about all of that.

KING: Did you know you were beautiful?

SHEPHERD: What I found out is how little I know about love. That's what I found out.

KING: What do you mean?

SHEPHERD: I found out how much I know about love, which was very little. I'm not sure quite how to do any of that except I know what not to do.

KING: Do you know what love is now at 50?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: It's different every time, isn't it?

SHEPHERD: Well, I know what love is in terms of my children and my good loving friends. And I think that probably the friend thing is one of the most important things, is to be really sure that someone -- one of the most difficult things about -- for my children in having a famous parent is that they say sometimes they're not sure if their friends really want to be their friends, that they want to be their friends because their mother maybe, because their mother is famous.

And it's true about being in my position is sometimes I'm not sure if people are really sincere. I've come to, you know, see that there is a lot of -- I might -- like I said, I'm the package that's wrapped nicely.

KING: You're interested in politics?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: How serious?

SHEPHERD: Well, I really enjoy serving. And I figured, you know, I would write this book and then all of my -- just let all the skeletons out of the closet myself.

KING: Did you really think of running running?

SHEPHERD: Well, I mean, I love to serve. I really loved doing the "Cybill" show because I felt that the audience was the most important people and I wanted to serve them and do a good show. And you know, and I do enjoy serving.

KING: So you would like to be an elected person someday?

SHEPHERD: perhaps. I mean, I'm still young. I'm only 50.

KING: But you would like to run for office someday?

SHEPHERD: Perhaps.

KING: Our guest is Cybill Shepherd. Back with more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: She's been the voice -- she's been the face rather of L'Oreal and Revlon. Been a major film star, TV star for a long time, and has now written a very honest autobiography, "Cybill Disobedience."

You had a -- you suffered a double twist in the small intestine? SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: Was that could have been death?

SHEPHERD: Yes. It was emergency surgery.

KING: How did it happen?

SHEPHERD: That's a very interesting question. No one can say exactly how or why it happened. But I can say I was under extraordinary stress. Gut twisting...

KING: Was this when "Moonlighting" was going off?

SHEPHERD: No, this was the "Cybill" show.

KING: "Cybill" show?

SHEPHERD: Yes, during the "Cybill" show, yes. And also I think that my relationship at the time, though I may not have known that it was going to be over, that I -- that probably that was taking a toll also.

KING: Also the raps you were getting then, that you were like this diva and controlling and people having a tough time working for you: Any of that warranted?

SHEPHERD: Not at all, absolutely not.

KING: Then when you read about it, were you shocked?

SHEPHERD: I had been there before. I mean, in a way it was a kind of deja vu, because in "Moonlighting" the press had picked up the same thing and turned me into this difficult person.

KING: Why you?

SHEPHERD: Because I really take chances and I speak out and I stand up for myself. I just wish I had stood up for myself more on "Moonlighting," because when I've seen it again now that it's been 15 years, 10, 15 years, I can really see that I was justified in standing up for Maddie Hayes. It was not a good idea to have her married off to that little twerp she'd known for three days. That was a disastrous decision on Glenn Caron's part and I told him at the time. And I wasn't producing it.

I just wish I'd stood up and said, "Well, I'm sorry, I'm not going to do it," you know, the way Roseanne did on her show.

KING: Yes, but you've got to get paid though, right?

SHEPHERD: Well, I mean, I don't know. I just kind of wish I'd stood up even more for my character, not less.

KING: The "Cybill" show you controlled? SHEPHERD: Well, you know, the network controls. It was -- it's a collaboration. You can't have a good television show and be -- everybody good around you, have writers -- Alan Ball was my writer for three years. And somebody just told me something today that -- they said that he said that he based a character, Annette Bening's character in "American Beauty" on me.

Did you know that? Did anybody -- had you ever heard that? I hadn't heard that.

KING: When you saw the movie...

SHEPHERD: I took it as the...

KING: ... did you think of it?

SHEPHERD: No. I just thought Annette Bening was so brilliant in it, and I thought the movie was so brilliant, and I was so thrilled for Alan because he was, you know, one of my head writers for three years. And that's the kind of writing -- he just won the Academy Award for best screenplay. That's who I had writing the "Cybill" show, and I would get so angry that we never nominated -- the writers were never nominated for an Emmy. It just -- it just infuriated me that I finally went out and bought them all awards and gave them awards.

KING: You did?

SHEPHERD: Yes, because I said this is one of the best writing staffs that's ever existed. This show is great.

You know, you can only do so much as an actor. It has to be on the page. It has to be written. And I had a brilliant -- I had more women on my staff than ever in the history of probably of television.

And the women, of course, they all say, oh, there's no women show-runners, they always give you that bull. So you know, most of the women got the lowest-paying jobs, but we would end up with like Linda Wallen as one of the co-executive producers. And Linda Wallen and Alan Ball were my mainstays, kept the show great.

KING: So what did it -- they got you into surgery immediately?

SHEPHERD: Yes, I had the -- the white blood count shot up and they had to do emergency surgery. And they do a thing where they open you up abdominally called the presentation of the bowel. I can't believe I'm talking about this on television. Anyway. And they look to see if you're OK everywhere in there, and when they did, I had a spontaneous untwisting.

And it wasn't until probably I started writing this book that I began to believe it was a kind of miracle that happened for me, that I didn't have to have my, you know, be cut, my intestines cut.

KING: What was the first symptom? Pain?

SHEPHERD: Excruciating pain. I think the only pain I ever had close to that was, you know, giving birth to twins.

KING: And they don't -- they associate that with stress? That stress could cause...

SHEPHERD: The doctor said that when he opened me up, it looked as if I had been struck. Like I said, "Are you saying that it looked like I'd been kicked like -- kicked by a horse in the gut?" And he said, "Well, yes." A lot stress.

KING: That's the way it looked?

SHEPHERD: So I guess the thing is that the show really -- though, as sad as I was that it went off, I mean, to a certain extent it did almost kill me, because it was 10 days later that I was in -- and no one really knew.

KING: That you were that sick?

SHEPHERD: No.

KING: What kind of...

SHEPHERD: It happened very quickly, and I didn't -- when you have an emergency situation like that in the hospital, and you're rushed in and you're -- you know, and they operate on you, you don't have time to even tell people.

KING: What kind of parts do 50-year-olds get to read?

SHEPHERD: Not very many. I'm going to have to make it up myself, Larry, just like I wrote this book, just like I made up the "Cybill" show, just like I've had to do everything. I'm going to have to make it myself just like most women are going to have to get out there and write it themselves and do it. That's how you get -- not everybody is lucky enough to have Alan Ball.

KING: Do you want to come back to television?

SHEPHERD: Yes, but not right away. I'm really enjoying being a mom, and I need to recover from writing this book, because it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

KING: We'll ask about that in a minute. My guest is Cybill Shepherd. The book is "Cybill Disobedience." We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE HEARTBREAK KID")

SHEPHERD: I've never done this before. A girlfriend told me about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love her. Whoever she is, I love her.

Look, I'm way ahead of you. Let me help.

SHEPHERD: Oh, no, no. That's the whole point, no touching. We take off everything and get as close as we possibly can without touching. It's a lot harder than it sounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it! I love it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And our guest is Cybill Shepherd. Why was this book the hardest thing?

SHEPHERD: Because I had to account for a lot of behavior that I would have just preferred not to ever look back on, not that...

KING: You didn't have to do it.

SHEPHERD: Well, I didn't -- I didn't have to do it. But I think that the three things combined made me feel compelled to at least get a chance to tell my story. And I was worried that if I waited until I was 85, that I wouldn't tell it.

But Clementine, my oldest daughter, came in and said, tell it, mom, tell it all. I don't tell it all, but I wanted to definitely feel that I was telling the truth so that my kids perhaps someday will understand.

KING: Why did you name her Clementine?

SHEPHERD: Well, I always loved the movie "My Darling Clementine," directed by John Ford.

KING: Henry Fonda.

SHEPHERD: Yes. And also I came across that name -- like at the grocery store you can buy those baby name books, and I saw that name, and it meant kind, truthful, most merciful. And I didn't know very many people named Clementine.

KING: Did you like the song too?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: Bobby Darin had a big hit with it.

SHEPHERD: "My Darling Clementine." I don't love the song so much. I like Bing Crosby's version where he jazzes it up.

KING: Yes.

SHEPHERD: But I'm actually -- oh, I can't say that, but she won't watch this probably. I'm writing a song for her wedding.

KING: You said that already.

SHEPHERD: "I Knew (ph) My Darling Clementine, I Knew My Darling Clementine."

Trying not to cry. You know, mother hasn't (ph) cried.

KING: You'll be a -- you're going to be a good mother-in-law?

SHEPHERD: Oh, yes. Yes, I'm a good mom. That's one -- one area I do pretty well in.

KING: So you don't want to do another movie right away, you don't want to do a television show?

SHEPHERD: I did a movie, a movie called "Marine Life." I don't know exactly when it's coming out. It's directed by Anne Wheeler, who directed "Better Than Chocolate." And it was really fantastic. I play -- my live-in lover in the movie is 17 years younger than me, which is -- I don't think we see near enough of that in television and the movies...

KING: Older...

SHEPHERD: ... an older woman, younger man, yes. Because I don't -- there's nothing wrong with an older man, younger woman. We're just missing all the other in-between.

KING: OK. What do you make of this battle going on, on gay rights to marry? Do you think they should?

SHEPHERD: I think to infringe on anybody's civil rights is a crime, and I absolutely believe they should have the right to marry. I think it's none of the government's business, frankly.

KING: OK, and...

SHEPHERD: Separation of church and state. I mean, people that object to the marriage, they object to it based on religious reasons.

KING: You've always been pro-choice, right?

SHEPHERD: Always been pro-choice.

KING: Even growing up in an area where pro-life would have been sacrosanct?

SHEPHERD: I was very lucky. Very close family friend in 1966, a doctor, prescribed me birth control pills without telling my mother and without telling me. Just went for my first gynecological appointment, and he said, "Do you have a boyfriend?" I said yes. He said, "Do you love him?" I said, "Yes, we're going to get married?"

He said: "Well, you know, your periods have been a little irregular here. I'm going to give you a prescription of something that's going to make your periods real regular."

I was very fortunate, and that is why I feel compelled to stand up for the young women in this country now who are not allowed to control their own fertility, their bodily fertility. People keep wanting to take away from women our right to control our pleasure and our bodies and our reproductive health. And for this, I will always continue to fight wherever it is.

KING: Are you Catholic?

SHEPHERD: No, I'm not. I was raised Episcopal.

KING: Now the "Cabaret" act...

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: When did that start? When did Cybill Shepherd start to sing?

SHEPHERD: Twenty-five -- well, I started singing long before I was an actor. I studied voice from 1966 on basically. I was a singer first.

KING: We never heard you sing.

SHEPHERD: That's right, because I was established as an actress first. But I have been doing the cabaret act for 25 years or so. And the "Cybill" show came from that. And Linda Wallen was my writer, and she became a writer on the "Cybill" show.

Now I do it -- this book came out of my act. A lot of the material in the book I actually do in my act. I have been doing it a long time. It's my chance to see the fans in person. It's my chance to get back. It's my chance to be live. It's a chance to do -- take chances with comedic material. If it bombs -- I figure, if I don't bomb every night a little bit, I haven't taken enough chances.

KING: You do a lot of singing, right?

SHEPHERD: Well, I do comedy as much. I mean, I do -- yes, I always...

KING: As much standup as singing?

SHEPHERD: Oh yes, yes.

KING: Ever fallen for a musician.

SHEPHERD: Yes, a number of times.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Any time you thought of living in the Valley. Anyway, that's a little joke, folks. L.A. kind of joke.

(LAUGHTER)

We'll be back with our remaining moments with Cybill Shepherd right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TAXI DRIVER") SHEPHERD: You're going to be my friend?

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Yes.

What do you say? It's a little hard standing here and asking you, so...

Five minutes, that's all, just outside, right around here. I'm there to protect you.

(LAUGHTER)

Come on. Just take a little break.

SHEPHERD: I have a break at 4 o'clock, and if you're here...

DE NIRO: 4 o'clock today?

SHEPHERD: Yes.

DE NIRO: I'll be here.

SHEPHERD: I'm sure you will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Cybill Shepherd. We have covered so much territory.

Have you always had a weight situation, up and down weight situation?

SHEPHERD: Never like hugely gained a lot, because I've always kind of not worried about it too much and tried to emphasize the healthy aspects of walking a lot and eating healthy things. But I -- I believe in eating chocolate every day.

KING: You do?

SHEPHERD: Oh, yes.

KING: But I have seen you go by me in health walks in New York.

SHEPHERD: Yes, yes, yes. I walk slower now.

KING: You do? You were going pretty fast last time.

SHEPHERD (singing): Beautiful girl, walk a little slower when you walk by me.

KING: That's right. You're 50, yes.

SHEPHERD: Slow down.

KING: Yes. I guess...

SHEPHERD: I don't mind that.

KING: ... one of the most memorable things you ever did was "Taxi Driver," right?

SHEPHERD: Slow is good. Yes, "Taxi Driver" was a great movie, great experience shooting it, and no one noticed my performance in it until 20 years later when they reviewed the VideoDisc of "Taxi Driver" and said it was one of the underrated performances in the movie, it never got appreciated, and showed my potential that I would show later on. And it meant a lot to me 20 years later that my performance was appreciated.

KING: You and Albert Brooks. Did you know it was a great movie?

SHEPHERD: Yes, absolutely.

KING: You knew when you were making it?

SHEPHERD: Absolutely.

KING: You knew De Niro was...

SHEPHERD: You always know when it's a great movie.

KING: You do?

SHEPHERD: You always know.

KING: In other words, they don't surprise you?

SHEPHERD: No. Well, I do each one like I think it's going to be great, but you know, sure, "Taxi Driver," "Heartbreak Kid," absolutely.

KING: Heartbreak Kid" is...

SHEPHERD: "Last Picture Show." And "Chances Are": That was really -- I'm really proud of my work in that.

KING: Yes, it was a wonderful movie.

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: You've got a lot -- you've got a lot to be proud of.

SHEPHERD: That's right!

KING: Don't knock your career. Don't keep putting it down.

SHEPHERD: Did I put it down?

KING: Only kidding.

SHEPHERD: Oh no. I think I'm the luckiest person that ever lived.

KING: Do you want to be in love again?

SHEPHERD: Not right away.

KING: You can't pick that, though, do you?

SHEPHERD: I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out" is my favorite expression at the moment. It's a song I did.

KING: "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out."

SHEPHERD: "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: In other words, you can't control it, right?

SHEPHERD: Oh, I don't know.

KING: You wouldn't -- you think you can control falling in love?

SHEPHERD: No, I think what matters more than anything are values and the people are honest. And the book is about how I started out lying a lot about, particularly about sex, and how I've come around to being a lot more honest and much happier. And so the most important thing to me is not so much -- the most important thing is honesty.

KING: Honest enough to say, if you meet a man, I would like to go to bed with you?

SHEPHERD: You mean for me to say that?

KING: Yes.

SHEPHERD: Oh, well.

KING: That's honest.

SHEPHERD: That would be honest. I might. Yes, indeed.

KING: I mean, have you done that?

SHEPHERD: I would want to get to know a person a lot more instead of just kind of falling in love from the neck down. Been there, done that. Don't need to do that anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: When you've been there done that, I imagine you did, right?

SHEPHERD: I had a good time.

KING: You could have titled the book that too?

SHEPHERD: Well, I could have called it a lot of things.

KING: "I Had a Good Time."

SHEPHERD: I had -- I'm having a very good time right now.

KING: Still get back to Memphis.

SHEPHERD: Oh, yes, I have a home in Memphis. I love Memphis. It's the ultimate Zen retreat.

You didn't know that? 1 KING: The ultimate Zen retreat? Beale Street.

SHEPHERD: I love Beale Street, I love seeing the Mississippi River, and I love being with my friends, and I love going for long walks down by the river. And I love it, I love it.

KING: And the originator of a very unusual aspect of American music, right?

SHEPHERD: You got it.

KING: Not the Dixieland of New Orleans, not the jazz of Chicago. There was a Memphis sound.

SHEPHERD: Well, there are several. There's the stax music like, you know, Sam and Dave, and Otis Redding, and then there's also the blues of course, and there's also rock'n'roll with Elvis. Very unique blues. Memphis has contributed three unique musical forms.

KING: Great city.

SHEPHERD: Yes.

KING: Great girl.

SHEPHERD: Thank you. Love to see you again.

KING: Cybill Shepherd. Her book is "Cybill Disobedience." We thank her very much for being with us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

From Los Angeles, good night.

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