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Larry King Live
Can Getting Old Mean Getting Better?Aired May 15, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, former presidential candidate Bob Dole heads a panel of more than four centuries of smarts and style. With him in Washington is Willard Scott of NBC's "Today" show. In Los Angeles, the beautiful Barbara Eden -- we all dreamed of her as Jeannie. Also in L.A., the Emmy-winning Art Linkletter, author of the bestselling "Old Age Is Not for Sissies." Plus, silver-screen legend Jane Russell and the unstoppable Ed McMahon.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Before meeting our panel, we're going to go down to New Orleans and talk with Neil Reed, the former Indiana University basketball player who accused Bobby Knight of choking him during a practice in 1997, that incident caught on videotape.
Here, by the way, is what one of the trustees said at that press conference today, in which the university said they were keeping Bobby Knight but under strict, strict supervision. Here's John Walda, University of Indiana trustee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALDA, INDIANA UNIVERSITY TRUSTEE: I know that coach Knight reached out with his right hand and he grabbed Neil Reed by the neck. And I know that there was enough force that Mr. Reed's head snapped back and that he stopped. And you can characterize it by whatever words you want, I characterize it by saying that is not appropriate conduct between a coach and a player. That is inappropriate physical conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Neil Reed, we thank you for joining us tonight.
How do you feel about that decision concerning your former coach today to keep him with kind of sanctions?
NEIL REED, BOBBY KNIGHT ACCUSER: Well, I'm not surprised by the decision. I think coach Knight will be Coach Knight. And things haven't changed. He's -- he's been him and like that for 29 years, as long as he's been at Indiana. I think the problem lies with the university and the people who are in charge, who are making decisions. I think they're avoiding the facts of all these cases. And they're trying to cover up some mistakes from the past, and it's costing a lot of people now.
KING: You think then they should have dismissed him today?
REED: No -- well, that's not really my concern. My whole point in discussing any of the things that I've been through was to simply tell the truth about what has happened to me. And I'm certainly not the only one -- and that's become evident over the past week -- that has been subject to things like this. I just wanted to tell the truth and rid myself so I didn't have to feel like one of those people.
And it's a helpless feeling. As a student, especially, I've felt like I have had no rights, no one who stands up and looks after me as a student athlete at that school. And it's just very disappointing. I'm disappointed in the university.
KING: Did -- weren't you at all impressed by his, one, apology; and, two, the sanctions they put on him? In incidents like we're seeing now, it would cause him to be immediately dismissed?
REED: Well, coach Knight's going to apologize. I've never asked for an apology. I think he stated that he was going to apologize to the secretary, which he probably should. And I think when a question was asked if he was going to apologize to me, the answer was no. Now, you know, like I said, I've never asked for an apology, but when you go out of your way to not apologize and make it public that you're not going to apologize to someone, I have a problem with that.
I'm a young man. I'm 24 years old. I've tried to do the right thing by simply telling the truth. And I don't feel I've done anything wrong but bring truth to this situation.
KING: As you know him then, you don't think he can stick up to all those prerequisites they put on him?
REED: Oh, no, I think coach Knight will make it. I think, you know, he'll be coach Knight. Like I said, I think the problem...
KING: What does that mean?
REED: Well, coach Knight is going to act like coach Knight. That's why he gets what he does and gets all the attention he gets. I think he will be -- I've seen him be nice. I've seen him be extraordinarily nice to someone, but I've also seen him be extraordinarily mean and rough and harsh with people. And it's just a matter of which side he's going to fall to more. Now obviously now he's got to fall to the nice side.
But coach Knight's going to be make it. Coach Knight will be coach knight. It's that school that is having a serious problem with themselves.
KING: Were you shocked when he grabbed you by the neck?
REED: Yes, sir, I was. The situation was basically simple: I communicated with another player on the floor during a play to do something, and, you know, it worked. It was successful. And I was walking back, and coach Knight was praising the other individual in the play that I told to do something about the play. And he turned to me and started getting on me, saying that I didn't tell him to do that. And all I simply did was say, yes, I did. And he said, no, you didn't -- and he's using other language that I don't feel comfortable with using. But I simply asked the kid, I asked him if he heard me say that to him. And the kid said, yes. And I said, thank you. And that's when I looked to the other guard, the other player to my left. And we were going to start the play again. And as my head was turning back, he came at me.
I was very shocked. It's a very confusing situation. I didn't know what to do, but I was not going to let him squeeze me by the throat any longer, hold me by the throat anymore, so I removed his hand. And he continued to berate me, be in my face screaming at me. My first thought was to walk out, but for some reason I just -- I couldn't do that.
KING: And why did you wait so long to tell about it, Neil?
REED: I didn't. I actually -- I told someone that day. Assistant Athletic Director Steve Downing actually came down to me after that practice and pulled me into a private little lounge and said, Neil, I heard coach Knight hit you. And I kind of chuckled -- not because it was funny, just because the story had changed so quickly. And I said, no, he didn't hit me, but he choked me. And, you know, he seemed kind of disappointed, like he was going to have to do something. And it was in the middle of the year, and I was like, look, Mr. Downing, I can't have any more trouble now because, you know, I was -- I always seemed to be catching a lot of stuff. And maybe deserved, maybe not, but I was catching a lot of stuff. I said, look, I can't handle any more stuff right now. If what you heard was that he hit me, no, he did not hit me. And I left it at that.
And when I left, nothing formal, no formal investigation was ever conducted. No one contacted me about coming in to talk about any specific situation. I did go in to get my release letter from the university, and at that time I was asked by Athletic Director Clarence Doninger if there was anything that he needed to know. And once again, I kind of thought this was funny because Clarence Doninger knew exactly what was going on. My father actually spoke to him twice and told him that it did happen.
And I was basically discarded and almost run out of town, to be honest with you. And I parted. I left. I tried to deal with it as best that I could, but they did know about the situation. I think they said they did conduct an investigation, but it was an oral investigation and there's no records. There's no written records of that investigation. So I think things have been handled pretty shady.
KING: Well, you got your due today, though.
REED: Well, I don't know.
KING: You got an admission of what happened, and the investigation said that's what happened, what you said happened? REED: Well, they admitted to a certain extent about the choking incident. The two other things that I discussed did happen. They were confirmed by two or three other players that CNN had talked to also. And I know for a fact that the investigation didn't contact one Charlie Miller that did the CNN interview, for whatever reason. But I think he would be a very important person to talk to, when he also stated in the interview that it did happen. So, you know, they're -- they want to use my name and my face up front to discredit this whole situation, and, you know, I don't think that's quite how you should handle situations.
KING: I don't know. I think you came out pretty good.
REED: All right, no problem. Thank you.
KING: Neil Reed, former Indiana University basketball player -- and the Bobby Knight story.
We'll come back with the story of aging, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYLES BRAND, INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Viewed by themselves, each allegation does not individually rise to the level of dismissal. But the review of the Neil Reed incident caused us to look at the sum total, the pattern of behavior. And from that perspective, it is troubling. This behavior cannot and will not continue or be tolerated at Indiana University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, let's re-meet our panel introduced eight minute ago: Bob Dole, the former Republican presidential candidate; Willard Scott, the weather reporter of NBC news "Today." In Los Angeles is Barbara Eden, the well-known actress; Art Linkletter, the oldest member of our panel; Ed McMahon, the famed TV personality; Jane Russell, the famous actress; and back in Washington as well is Dr. Mike Magee of the David Rockefeller -- he's David Rockefeller fellow and professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College and a senior medical adviser of Pfizer. They make Viagra.
And this is the Dole panel, is it not, Robert? This is -- these are your folk. These are the story of aging?
ROBERT DOLE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I try to pick a group of younger people, and you know, we got some great people on here. Jane Russell is one of my pin-up girls in World War II. I remember the picture very well. And I've -- you know, I've watched all these people over the years and listened to Willard Scott here.
But I think the point we want to make is that people do live longer, and they can live healthy lives. And we may -- we're not exceptions. We may be more visible and have a higher profile, but there are hundreds of thousands and millions of people our age and older who now consider themselves sort of middle-aged.
KING: Art Linkletter, what's the biggest problem of aging? You are 88.
ART LINKLETTER, AUTHOR, "OLD AGE IS NOT FOR SISSIES": Yes, I have found in my meeting with all kinds of groups, because I lecture at retirement and nursing homes all across the country, the biggest thing is that when you suddenly realize you're old, you lose independence. People are helping you across the street and people are making decisions for you. And the doctors say...
KING: Treating you as old?
KING: Treating you old and taking away your hand on the tiller of your own life, kind of pushing you along. Even doctors do that. They say, now, Grandma, here are these pill. You just take these pills. And she says...
KING: Don't ask about them.
LINKLETTER: ... do I do it before breakfast? That kind of thing.
KING: Willard Scott, you and I are the same age. Do you feel old?
WILLARD SCOTT, NBC NEWS: No, and I know you don't feel old.
SCOTT: And Ed McMahon is my pinup boy. I wanted to get that in.
ED MCMAHON, TV PERSONALITY: I don't feel old, you know that. I feel about 45.
KING: But what -- what's the biggest problem? You did semi- retire, Willard, though?
SCOTT: Well, you know, I keep doing that to try to get my contract renewed. They think I'm going to leave -- I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you. No, I think that one of the great things is -- I talked to somebody today about this -- is to hang around younger people. That keeps you younger and thinking younger.
MCMAHON: Yes, very good.
SCOTT: And the other thing is to be happy. Have a nice attitude about life. And that's a real blessing. I don't want to, you know, say any more than that, but it's just a wonderful thing...
KING: Yes, I want to -- we're going to establish each person and then get into a major discussion of all of this.
Barbara, what's the biggest problem maybe from the female end of getting older? You're in your 60s, right?
BARBARA EDEN, ACTRESS: Yes, I haven't really seen a problem. I...
KING: You don't get offers to be the sex starlet of a movie?
EDEN: No, but you know that's kind of a relief. It really is. It's wonderful to be able to just be yourself and relax a little and not have to wear shorts and a bikini and worry about your navel.
KING: Isn't L.A. a tough place to be old in?
EDEN: Is L.A. a tough place to be old in? I don't think it's any more difficult than anywhere else. I love to look at beautiful people, and we have a lot of beautiful people here.
KING: But you don't feel old?
EDEN: I don't field ancient. I know I'm older. I mean, I'm realistic about it. I just -- I enjoy each day, I guess, as it comes.
KING: Ed McMahon, what's the biggest problem?
MCMAHON: I don't have a problem. I just feel...
KING: No problem?
MCMAHON: I -- really, none at all. I like to be old, I just don't want to get old. I like being old. I'm proud of my age. I'm 77. I'm very proud of that. I got it to here, I'm not done yet, and that's my attitude. I mean, people can't keep up with me, and that's wonderful.
KING: Jane, what's the biggest problem of being old?
JANE RUSSELL, ACTRESS: I just go day by day.
KING: It doesn't bother you?
KING: You don't say to yourself, I wish I were young again?
RUSSELL: No, oh, heaven's no. I wouldn't want to live through that again for anything.
KING: Anyone who read your book knows why, right?
All right, Dr. Magee, are they right? Do people treat people old as old? Are we mistaken in this subject of gerontology?
DR. MIKE MAGEE, SENIOR MEDICAL ADVISER, PFIZER: Well, I think that certainly there is that feeling out there. But there really is a new face of aging that you see represented here tonight.
The Pfizer poll survey just surveyed 3,000 senior Olympiads, and what they said is, No. 1, you have to stay current. Sixty-nine percent of them were using the Internet regularly, and they had very active minds.
Secondly, stay connected. By that they meant 41 percent of them were still working, and they were very active with family and friends.
And lastly, stay in control. Even though 64 percent of them were on pharmaceutical medications and they had the same chronic diseases as everyone else. They had seen their doctors early and often, so they controlled the diseases rather than having the diseases control them.
So I think the issues of self-control are very important in aging, but we certainly see a new longevity, and we see people doing things that weren't imagined some 20 years ago.
KING: And we'll get into all of that -- that's our topic for tonight: growing old -- right after this.
Don't go away.
KING: Bob Dole, you became a national spokesperson for Pfizer, in a sense, with the Viagra. And it was on this show where you had told us you were in the test results for that drug. What part, let's be frank, does that drug play in the aging process?
DOLE: Well, it might be a question better left to Dr. Magee. But I think the important thing is what we've really done is try to get men into the doctor's office, and then trying to get the doctor in the office to do things he should do, to have the prostate tests and all the other tests you take. And we've had some success in that.
I think -- you know, I took a lot of heat and a lot of ridicule over that, but I think the result has been that more men go to their doctor. But it's still very low as compared to women. That's what this is all about. It's about aging, it's about seeing your doctor, it's about living longer and have a better quality of life.
KING: Art, did you take...
DOLE: And right...
KING: Did you take better care of yourself?
LINKLETTER: I've always taken good care of myself.
KING: You always were kind of...
LINKLETTER: I never smoked, didn't drink, always was in good shape. In fact, when the driver picked me up today I was on my bicycle doing my exercises. I ski on black diamond trails, I surf in Hawaii, all of this at age 88.
KING: Not bad. LINKLETTER: Of course, skiing's a natural, because after 70 everything's downhill.
KING: Yes, that's right up Willard Scott's alley. You're the predecessor of Willard Scott.
Willard, do you take good care of yourself?
SCOTT: I think I have, for the most part. You know, I find that the people that I talk to that are 100 or 105 or 104, they have brothers and sisters and people in the family. Don't you think it's genetics, Doctor? I mean, there's so much involved in the fact that -- who your grandparents were?
KING: How much of it, Doctor, is luck?
MAGEE: Well, certainly, you know, gene and luck, you would think, play a big part in this. But the truth of the matter is it's a combination of science and people who change their behaviors. As Bob was saying before, you know, it isn't so much that before people came in for erectile dysfunction or for Viagra, it's the fact that in the process of coming in, their untreated diabetes and hypertension and heart disease and cancer of the prostate was picked up early rather than late. And if you can do that, you tip everything towards prevention, and you have a chance of a future that's full of vitality.
KING: You take care of yourself, Barbara.
EDEN: Yes, I do.
KING: Get all the regular checkups?
EDEN: Yes, I do.
EDEN: Yes, I do.
KING: You're in good health.
EDEN: And I spin.
KING: You what?
EDEN: I spin.
EDEN: I do the bicycling, you know, the bicycle classes, yes.
KING: Ed, do you take care of yourself?
MCMAHON: I do. Yes, my attitude is go to the doctor when I don't need to. I go see them often to find out what might be happening to me. But I exercise every day. I'm very much involved in keeping fit. KING: Jane?
RUSSELL: Yes, I ride a bike and I swim and I, you know, keep busy and I sleep.
KING: You sleep?
RUSSELL: I love to sleep. I love to sleep.
KING: You sleep a lot, Jane?
RUSSELL: Yes, I do. Yes, I had a great-aunt Jane who lived to be 102. And she used to sit in the chair and say, oh, Lord, take me. Oh, Lord, take me, you know?
KING: Finally he did.
RUSSELL: And then my brother would lie down outside her window and play "going home, going home."
KING: We'll be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Bob Dole, isn't it a problem if too many people get too old? That we're not going to be able to take care of the aging population?
DOLE: Well, we're going to have -- I understand by the year 2030 we're going to have 70 million people over 65, which is almost double the amount we have now. It would be more men than women. I think it depends. Again, that's probably a medical question. But my mother- in-law, Mrs. Hanford, is going to be 99 on Monday, and I'll be she's taking notes on this program. And so -- you know, see if I'm doing OK, and she'll call me when I get home.
But I've thought about it a lot, and I've even thought about it in my own case. I'm 76, and I've wondered what I'd be like without a disability. I'd probably be climbing mountains or doing things out there with Art Linkletter at 88. But I don't think so. I think we're going to live longer, we're going to have a good life. If we do a lot of these things, we see our doctors -- that's the key. If we go see our doctor, and if the doctor's wise enough to ask us the right questions, we'll have a good, long, healthy life and be very productive.
KING: You don't feel your age, Senator?
DOLE: Well, yes, I feel it a little bit. KING: Whatever that is.
DOLE: Whatever it is? Seventy-six. But I did my treadmill today, went, did a little tonight before I came on the program so I could stay awake. But, you know...
KING: Keep it up, Bobby.
KING: Do you think about your age, Art? Do you think, I'm 88?
LINKLETTER: The first time I was ever aware I was getting old was when I had my 80th birthday. I was so busy in show business all the way through, the years went on. But when I was 80, that gave me a little thought.
KING: Big day.
LINKLETTER: But the biggest problem -- and it comes out of your question to Bob -- is it's not our individual health, but the government's handling -- right now, Europe...
KING: Will the money be there?
LINKLETTER: Europe is going to have it before we are. Europe, the 11 nations and euro dollar, is going to be struck with no pensions, no private pensions, no government money. In the next 10 years, Europe is going to have an economic disaster. No politician will either lengthen the age or lower the amount of money or raise the taxes because there are strikes, as we had in Paris.
KING: And your advancements, Dr. Magee, at Pfizer and others are what keep people going longer, right?
MAGEE: Well, I think certainly our scientific advances combined with changes in behavior and society's willingness to accept this new phase of aging, you know, we don't tend to think as aging as a drag on society. In fact, you know, we know now that 50 percent of all 60- year-olds have a parent, and in the year 2050 there will be over a million people who are beyond the age of 100. So we'll be dealing with four- and five-generation families. And this can be a tremendous resource for America, as long as those individuals are vital and healthy. Because they bring humor, wisdom, insight and history that can really increase our productivity.
We think the next step for America is to really embrace and value the four- and five-generation family, and that is what Pfizer is working on, along with others.
KING: We have not done that, have we, Willard?
SCOTT: No, but I'll tell you one thing. The people now that are living longer are getting to be older, they are taking better care of themselves. And so part of the problem of who's going to support whom here has to do with the fact that these people are going to want to work. And we -- I've heard reports that some people say in the next 50, 75 years, people will be working until they are 100 years old. They'll be living until they're 125 and 130, they'll work not just because they have to probably but because they want to, because they're great employees. Ask any employer, senior citizens make the best employees in the world. They love their job, they show up on time, and they're happy people, and they're good workers.
KING: You want to work, don't you, Barbara?
EDEN: Oh, yes.
KING: You like work.
EDEN: I love to work.
KING: You don't feel inactive. Ed?
MCMAHON: I work all the time.
KING: You're out now with you're dot.com and everything?
MCMAHON: I've got my nextbigstar.com. I just did a 40-city, 40- day bus tour, traveled on a bus, started here, wound up in Washington -- 40 days, 40 cities.
KING: Looking for talent. Do you work, Jane? Well, you wrote a book.
RUSSELL: Well, I'm going to London and I'm going to do a TV show, and then I'm going to Spain and visit some friends and then I'm going on a cruise and I'm going to sing on the cruise.
KING: Hey, looking good.
RUSSELL: And, you know, keep busy.
EDEN: Good for you.
RUSSELL: Keep busy. Why get bored.
EDEN: That's right.
KING: We'll be back. We'll include your phone call. The subject tonight is aging, and as you can tell this panel is not.
We'll be right back.
KING: By the way, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, the special guest is former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. In recent polls, he's been accorded the honors as high as the most important figure of the 20th century.
DOLE: There's another...
KING: I'm sorry, Bob. Were you going to say something?
DOLE: Well, I was going to say there's another example of somebody who accomplished a lot after he turned 70, is Nelson Mandela.
KING: Boy, are you right: There's a great example.
Bob Dole is with us, and also in Washington is Willard Scott, who by the way -- we're going to ask about this -- the "Today Show" is going to three hours. Barbara Eden is here -- Barbara Eden is here in Los Angeles, as is the famed Art Linkletter, who keeps on keeping on, as well as Ed McMahon, who just turned 77, and Jane Russell, who's going to London and Spain.
Willard, what's with the four -- what's with three hours of the "Today Show"?
MCMAHON: Well, it's just -- it's too big now. I mean, nothing can handle it. It's got to move on, and it's going to move into the 9:00 to 10:00 period.
I didn't get the straight word from Mr. Zucker, but I know that he's going to let me keep doing my birthdays for Smucker's. And I hope to see your face on that jar, by the way, Art, very soon. I'm going to put in the...
MCMAHON: I want to make that too. I'm looking forward to that myself. I want to be on that jelly jar.
LINKLETTER: I love peanut butter.
SCOTT: They make the best peanut butter in the world, Smucker's.
LINKLETTER: Oh, yes. Send a case.
SCOTT: One -- I wanted Bob to hear this and you guys, and it's quick and I'll tell it. I interviewed a guy in Ohio, who's the oldest licensed pilot in the United States. He's 100 years old. Still flies and builds his own airplane.
And I asked him after we did the interview -- it wasn't on the air -- I said to him, I said: "You know, do you take any medicines, any pills?" And he said, "No, it interferes with my sex life."
LINKLETTER: Can I tell a quick story?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
KING: I knew it would come to this.
LINKLETTER: I interviewed a 100-year-old lady at the San Francisco World's Fair. And I said, "What's the best thing about being 100?" She says there's so little peer pressure. (LAUGHTER)
KING: And we were supposed to -- and we were supposed to have 107-year-old man on the show tonight but his father was sick.
KING: Wichita, Kansas, hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is for Art Linkletter.
CALLER: What -- what should a concerned family member -- family members do when an elderly member in your family becomes unsafe, either by physical abilities or mental, not only to themselves but to others, and still insists and believes that they are able to, say, drive a vehicle?
LINKLETTER: Well, I happen to be chairman of the board of an international Alzheimer's research foundation, and you've described a lot of those problems that they have. My advice is to have them well- taken-care-of either, if you can afford it, by nurses, as Ronald Reagan does right now, or by taking them to a wonderful home where they can get good nursing.
The caregivers are endangered in their health and in their longevity by the presence in a home of a person who can't take care of themselves. They have emotional, physical and financial difficulties, which ruin the whole lives of everybody, especially Alzheimer's victims.
KING: Don't you fear a nursing home, Ed? Wouldn't that be one of the fears...
MCMAHON: I don't want any part of that. No, I wouldn't like that at all.
KING: Of course, you're not in control.
MCMAHON: No, I want to keep going straight.
EDEN: No, I...
KING: Barbara, is that -- is that one of the fears of aging? To be...
EDEN: I just -- I won't be there.
That's all. I decided I will not be in a nursing home.
KING: Jane, you fear it? Don't fear it?
RUSSELL: No, I don't, and I don't want any part of it. KING: Oh, you don't even think about it.
KING: Doctor, is it common to fear it among -- in this age group?
MAGEE: Absolutely, Larry. You know, we are moving more toward an emphasis on independent living. It used to be that we thought that aging was the problem. In fact, it's disease and isolation and rejection, and our response now is I think far more enlightened. Not only is the science better and we're picking up diseases earlier and treating them. But in addition, we're looking at people as potentially independent up through 100.
And so many of the models that are now available for people include the support that may be necessary, but an emphasis on human dignity and independent living. And I think that that's a right way to go.
KING: Was there a turning point for you, Barbara? Was 60 a turning point for you? Was it a tough day, as Art had when he was 80?
EDEN: Sixty was a tough day for me. You know, I never paid attention to my birthdays or the numbers. Really, I sort of forgot about them until 60. And I think what bothered me was suddenly I realized there was so little time left.
EDEN: That's what bothered me.
KING: You're not middle-aged. Sixty, I mean, let's not kid.
EDEN: Yes, you're not -- it wasn't getting older. It was the fact that I wanted to live a little longer.
KING: Did you have a turbulent age, Ed?
MCMAHON: Seventy-three was tough for me, because my father lived to be 73. So I figured, if I made 73, hey, that's pretty good, I lived as long as my dad. Once I got through there, I'm just sailing on.
Now, I'm heading for my grandmother. She lived to be 84.
KING: Willard, was 60 bad for you?
SCOTT: Never has been. Larry, I've loved all of it.
SCOTT: As long as I'm still here. They -- I've got a little thing on my briefcase that says "Every day's a gift." And as far as I'm concerned, if I wake up healthy and happy, and as long as I've got a job and get invited on the Larry King show and get to sit...
... sit next to Bob Dole, president of the United States. I mean, who could ask for more?
KING: Bob, did you have a bad age day?
DOLE: I don't think so. I've pretty much the same experience as Ed. My father lived to be 75 and I'm now 76. I always subtract the four years I spend in Army hospitals. That (UNINTELLIGIBLE) back, you know, take four years off every birthday.
But I think the caller from Wichita made a point that Art answered very well. We shouldn't leave the impression everybody in their 70s or 80s or even late 60s that it's going to be a piece of cake, because some people have real illnesses and haven't been as lucky, you might say, or had the same lifestyle.
But 25 years ago, the federal government issued what we called "dietary guidelines." I worked with Senator George McGovern at that time, and I think there's been a change of lifestyles, going back to when the first smoking report came out and the dietary guidelines. And I think it would be a great idea if we could have a discussion in their 60s, 70s and 80s where we didn't get into the politics of Medicare and Social Security. It might mean a lot to a lot of people, and it might be very helpful to them for a longer, better life.
KING: This panel tonight, though, is atypical, isn't it, Bob?
DOLE: I think so. Maybe Dr. Magee would disagree. But I think we've all apparently taken good care -- I know Barbara has and Jane has and the rest of us have tried.
MAGEE: Well, I think, Larry, the population is actually catching up. To emphasize this issue of attitude being important, in the Pfizer poll survey of senior olympiads 64 percent of these people had chronic diseases, but they were controlling the diseases well enough that they could perform, some as elite athletes.
I talked to one 87-year-old woman javelin thrower, and I said, "Have you ever thought about retiring?" She said: "Retire! Hell no! I'm on fire!"
So it's -- it's a function I think of attitude.
Many people today will say: "Retire from what? I'm loving my life." And I think with that type of an attitude and the scientific advances, it's a real winning combination, and it's amazing what may happen.
KING: Did you have a bad -- did you have a bad age day, Jane?
RUSSELL: No, but I remember my mother saying, I'm 90! I'm 90! I'm 90!
KING: I know, it's hard to believe.
KING: I'm 90. Sixty was bad for me.
Art, do you ever think to yourself, "I'm 80!"?
LINKLETTER: No, not very often. Sometimes at 11,000 feet looking down a ski lift, what am I doing here?
KING: We'll be back with more of our panel and more of your phone calls. Nelson Mandela tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: We're going to go to more of your calls. Art Linkletter has 11 great-grandchildren. He's 88 years old. He's never worn glasses. He doesn't get up in the middle of the night for any reason.
KING: Gresham, Oregon, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I'm approaching 60, and I just cannot believe how wonderful everybody looks and everything. But my question is -- I know you've talked of diet and exercise and taking care of yourself -- is there some kind of spirituality that gives you, along with your sense of humor? I think laughter is probably one of the best medicines, too. But is there a sense of spirituality that any of you carry with you to help you?
I mean, I can't -- I can't bear the thought of turning 60. But it's going to happen.
KING: Do you have spirituality, Barbara?
KING: Do you believe?
EDEN: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. I meditate. KING: You do?
KING: Do you, Art?
LINKLETTER: Yes, and of course, I speak on the subject at many churches and at educational conventions.
KING: Do you believe belief is important to you?
LINKLETTER: I think you should have some kind of a belief. I won't say which one.
MCMAHON: Absolutely, sure. I was raised a Catholic, and you know, I'm very much into that, sure.
KING: Do you?
RUSSELL: Oh, yes, definitely.
KING: Firmly believe?
KING: Bob, do you?
DOLE: No doubt about it. I've had many experiences, and somebody's watching over us.
KING: Willard, do you believe?
SCOTT: One thousand percent. And you know, so many of the people that I've talked to who are 100 or older, this is one of the mainstays of their very existence, is their religion and their faith. I think you see a lot of older people turning to it even more so as they get older. But the fact is it is very much of an anchor for everybody.
KING: Doctor, a Johns Hopkins study, I think, said that people who believe and who pray live longer?
DOLE: That's right, live longer.
MAGEE: I think that's certainly true. I know that in my years in medicine and at my years at Pfizer I'm surrounded by people who believe that mind and body and spirit all work together in a very mysterious way.
I'd also say that having had a dad who died from Alzheimer's disease, who was cared for in the home, and now being involved with my mother-in-law as well, supporting her, there is a redemptive quality to caring for people. As we care for people, they form us as human beings. And so part of the aging value to society I think is to be exposed to the process of caring.
Also senior people and mature Americans, they're very honest, and you can learn a lot by listening to them. And the pace slows down enough that you actually hear what they have to say.
So I think there's a redemptive quality involved with taking care of people who have a need in the later years of their life.
KING: San Diego, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry,
CALLER: I just wanted to ask your panel if they don't think mental health is just as important as physical health. I believe in laughter, meeting new people, and having new experiences.
KING: How important is your mental approach, Jane, to things?
RUSSELL: Oh, I think it's very important, especially staying around younger people and...
KING: You feel younger...
RUSSELL: I enjoy...
KING: All of you have that attitude?
RUSSELL: Oh, yes.
KING: Certainly, Willard does. Willard has been a child forever, right?
LINKLETTER: Willard, at UCLA we teach a lifelong learning, never stop learning, always have something that you're looking for that you didn't know about. Have a purpose in life. Don't hang out with catastrophizers...
... the people who want to say, oh, have you heard about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wife's left him.
MCMAHON: Oh, yes. Forget them.
KING: Bob, what -- did defeat do anything psychologically to you? Losing a major election, did that, do you think, age you a little?
DOLE: I can't remember losing. But...
SCOTT: What losing?
DOLE: Yes. What losing?
No, I think -- you know, again, I think maybe God has a plan for us, whatever that may be, whatever His will may be. But I think you have this -- you should develop this positive mental attitude that Norman Vincent Peale used to tell us about every Sunday. And he was a great leader at his age, another example of age.
But I think as long as you have a positive attitude and a sense of humor, and you exercise your memory as well as your body -- as the lady said, it's very important to have the appropriate mental attitude.
KING: Jane, you wanted to say something to Bob?
RUSSELL: Well, I just think if they had let him be himself he would be president of the United States. But they calmed him down, and you know, you can't do this and you can't do that.
Because he's got a great sense of humor, and always has had.
KING: Let him be him.
RUSSELL: And they just didn't let him do it.
KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.
DOLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), yes.
KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry.
CALLER: I'm 72 years old, and I teach deep-water aerobics, and I'm wondering how Mr. Linkletter exercises.
KING: What's your exercise routine?
LINKLETTER: Well, in the morning I roll out of bed and do what I call "the camel walk," which is on my hands and knees for the relief of my pain in the back, the lower back. And I do a kind of a rolling walk for about 10 or 12 minutes.
KING: Like Groucho?
LINKLETTER: Then I -- then I do 10-pound weights and I do 50 push-ups and 50 of these like. And then I do swimming and I do bicycle, and I have -- I'm active all the time.
KING: What do you do, Ed?
MCMAHON: I do the treadmill every day almost, and I have a trainer come in three days a week, and he puts me through my paces, challenging me all the time.
KING: Barbara, what do you do?
EDEN: I go to a gym three days a week, at least three days a week, and I do the spinning, which is the bicycle classes. And then after that, I work with a trainer.
KING: What do you do, Jane?
RUSSELL: Well, I love to dance.
I can't find anybody to dance with.
LINKLETTER: I love to dance.
KING: Linkletter and Russell go dancing.
You can go to Merv Griffin's on Friday night.
RUSSELL: Yes, yes.
KING: Bob Dole, I know you do your treadmill. You watch this show on a treadmill.
DOLE: Treadmill. I do my treadmill every day that I'm home, and I can't do as much with my arm, but my legs are in good shape.
KING: And Willard, what do you do?
SCOTT: Well, I do all of my exercise while I'm sleeping in bed.
I -- I have the doctor -- the Dr. Pepper exercise. I get up at 10:00, 2:00 and 4:00, and go to the John and come back. And that's probably -- that's the highlight of my night, Bob.
KING: We'll be back with more on the problems, although I don't think there are any, of aging, after this.
KING: We're back with our outstanding panel. Spokane, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hi. How is everybody?
CALLER: Great. You know, I'm 33 years old. I grew up around my grandparents, lucky enough to be real close to them. And I want to let you know my grandfather -- he's almost 80 years old, and he still hunts and fishes. In fact, I stay in shape by hanging out with him.
And the funny thing is, is I want everybody to know that, you know, he worked hard his whole life. He worked in a slaughterhouse over in Seattle. And he was there 40 years, and retired, and two- thirds of his wages go to prescription medicine for my grandmother and him.
And you know, I just -- I just wanted to make sure everybody keeps you in mind. Sometimes you lose touch with that. A lot of people have the insurance, and they do have insurance, believe it or not, and it still costs them that much.
And I wanted to say I think age is a state of mind, you know. He's 80 years old, and he goes to the pool hall and shoots pool with the guys.
KING: That's amazing.
CALLER: And hunts and fishes and hikes the hills. He's a young man.
MCMAHON: Would he like to dance with Jane, because Jane's looking for a dancing partner?
KING: Do you take a lot of prescriptions?
MCMAHON: A moderate amount.
KING: Do you?
EDEN: Not a lot, .
LINKLETTER: High blood pressure only.
KING: Do you, Willard?
SCOTT: I did for a while, about four of them, and high blood pressure and cholesterol and stuff like that. And I stopped taking them all, with the doctor's permission, and I feel better than I've in years, to be perfectly honest with you. KING: Jane, do you take any?
RUSSELL: I take something to sleep.
KING: Bob, what do you take?
DOLE: Cholesterol. I really probably don't need it anymore, but I still take it. And that's about it. Vitamins, I take a lot of vitamins.
EDEN: Oh, yes.
KING: Westport, Connecticut, hello.
EDEN: Oh, yes.
KING: Me, too.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Great subject, great panel.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: I also just want to point out that they're a very well- to-do panel in terms of their financial status. And I'm just, as a 54-year-old boomer, I just would like to answer the question -- you can direct it -- how does one plan for the financial crises that someone in their 80s or even 90s experiences in -- both in terms of themselves and the -- and the children of the family? How do you plan for this?
KING: Fair question, senator. Everyone on this panel could afford to buy any prescription.
DOLE: Well, that's true, and I think it's got to be this private-public partnership almost. And some of it's got to come from the government. Some of it's got to come from nonprofit. Some of it's got to be the individual too, because much of the problems that individuals have regardless of their -- whatever their economic status might be may be self-inflicted.
But that's an obligation I think we have in the government, and you know, people have different views on how we approach it. But he's right on target. It's got to be this public-private partnership, and we've got to reach out to people who can't afford to take care of themselves.
KING: One could make a case, couldn't they, Art, if someone needs a prescription for something certainly in the life-giving area they shouldn't be denied it?
LINKLETTER: No, I'm -- I'm a spokesman for USA. That's the United Seniors Association. And we say that there should be the same kind of prescription arrangement for Medicare as the federal employees get in Washington. DOLE: That's right. That would be a good program.
DOLE: There should be.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. We'll see if Dr. Magee agrees, right after this.
KING: Doctor, before we get one more call in, do you agree the pharmaceutical industry should be cooperating in a government and private industry way to make it possible so that anybody who needs it can get a prescription?
MAGEE: Absolutely. I think Senator Dole really had it right. About two-thirds of the people on Medicare currently have coverage for pharmaceuticals, and so we're focusing, I think, together on how to get coverage for the other third, because it's so important.
Also we need to remember that choice and innovation have sort of been central to the American system, and that's why American medicine, I think, is the ideal in the world.
It's also important to remember that as we've expended more for pharmaceuticals, the number of people who've had to go to emergency rooms and have surgery and have hospitalization has declined. So in many ways, we're transforming the system toward prevention, and we have to find a way of getting everybody included.
We think that all elders ought to have pharmaceutical coverage.
KING: Thousand Oaks -- I'm sorry. Go ahead, Bob.
DOLE: Well, the good news today about cancer rates going down. So a lot of good news today.
KING: Yes, boy. Thousand Oaks, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I have a question for Willard Scott.
SCOTT: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.
CALLER: I'm 90 years old. I want to get on one of your cups, you know, your Smucker cups, so you better wait.
Promise? SCOTT: I will wait forever for you and to dance with Jane Russell. Those are the two things that I'm going to live for the rest of my life.
KING: All right. What would each of you say -- we have about two minutes left -- to people, Art, what would you say to people about aging that you know?
LINKLETTER: I think -- I think, as you get older, you need to have a purpose, and that should be either your family, being sure your grandchildren know where they came from and what happened, or whether it's your community, working with the hungry or the blind people, or having an actual job. You have to pay back for having lived as long as you have.
KING: Jane, what would you say?
RUSSELL: Yes, I agree. I think you have to just be interested.
KING: Don't lose?
RUSSELL: And as I said before, I'm looking forward to where I'm going.
KING: You believe in the...
RUSSELL: You absolutely know that.
KING: Barbara, what would you say?
EDEN: Well, I agree with Art. I think it's very important to be active and to keep working, and really I don't know why we have to think about aging.
Why even worry about it? Just do! You know, live!
KING: Better than the alternative.
EDEN: Live, yes.
MCMAHON: I think keep getting involved in things. Now, I'm involved in the Internet. I'm in cyberspace, and I'm loving it. I'm finding out so many things about it.
KING: That keeps you young, right?
MCMAHON: It really does. And they figured out a while ago, I think -- the doctor may know this -- that if you don't keep those connections going in your head, keep that wiring going right, it's going to fall apart. KING: Almost out of time. Willard, what would you say?
SCOTT: My neighbor lived to be 101. He worked every day until he died. And his slogan was "You rust out quicker than you wear out."
KING: And we'll leave the final word for Senator Dole.
Thank you, Dr. Magee, for joining our panel.
MAGEE: My pleasure.
KING: Senator, what would you say to people?
DOLE: Stay connected, exercise your mind and body, do a good deed for somebody every day, and vote Republican.
(SCOTT HUMMING "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")
KING: Bob Dole, Willard Scott, Barbara Eden, Art Linkletter, Ed McMahon, Jane Russell, Dr. Mike Magee. The preceding, a paid political announcement.
Tomorrow -- a nonpaid political -- tomorrow night, Nelson Mandela for the full hour. Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND." Good night.
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