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Larry King Live
Remembering Steve Allen; Lieberman Discusses Campaign's Final PushAired October 31, 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, Steve Allen, once called television's man for all seasons, is dead at 78. We'll share memories of this multi-talented pioneer with friends and fans.
Joining us from Las Vegas, the wonderful entertainer Steve Lawrence, who knew Steve Allen for 47 years. In Los Angeles, television personality Ed McMahon, and with him Carl Reiner, who received the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor earlier this month. And in West Palm Beach, former talk show host Mike Douglas.
Then with just a week to go to Election Day 2000, we'll talk to Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Well, as you know, we had scheduled only politics all this week, but a tragedy occurred today -- the death of Steve Allen. So we thought we should devote some time on this program to that.
About him, Steve, Johnny Carson who followed him some years later hosting "The Tonight Show," Johnny Carson issued this statement: All of us who have hosted "The Tonight Show" format owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Allen. He was a most creative innovator and a brilliant entertainer.
Steve Lawrence, how did you first meet Steve Allen?
STEVE LAWRENCE, MUSICIAN: Well, I was, I think, about 17 years old, and I did a guest appearance. Steve had come in from California. He was doing a radio show which later turned out to be "The Tonight Show," and they were doing a remote out of the Plymouth Theater in New York, which is a legitimate house and during the day Steve did his radio show there.
I had a record that he liked and I got a guest appearance on his program. And as a result of that, I was invited back and then I didn't see him for about a year. And they were holding auditions for the -- what turned out to be "The Tonight Show," and I took the audition along with a lot of other young hopefuls. And I was fortunate enough to wind up and get the job. And I did the original kiniscope with Steve Allen back in 1953.
KING: And is that is where you met your wife? LAWRENCE: Eydie came on the show about two months after. They had used several girl singers before that, because -- they just were rotating them and they didn't know a lot of songs. And Eydie came on and knew about 2,000, so Steve was very impressed...
KING: That show had regular singers, right, Steve?
LAWRENCE: Yes, there was...
KING: You were a regular.
LAWRENCE: I was a regular singer, and then Eydie came on. And then a year-and-a-half after we were on locally, NBC decided to put it on the network. We were just on in the tri-state area in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And it was an hour and 45 minutes live every night and it was mayhem. Absolutely mayhem. We just live and loved it.
KING: It was. An hour and 45 minutes. Carl Reiner, you never worked with Steve, did you?
CARL REINER, COMEDIAN: Only on his talk show. I mean, I was a guest a few times.
KING: And your show of shows, which you were heavily involved with, was on
REINER: Yes, about the same time.
KING: The same time Steve was on.
KING: What did he mean to early television?
REINER: He was the master. He was the guy who set it up. I mean, Carson said the right thing about him.
KING: That's right.
REINER: And you know, the -- everybody owes a debt of gratitude to him. I think if make a list of every comedian who is on the scene now, I think Steve might have had a hand in most comedians because, he loved comedy. He -- Mel Brooks and I would not be the 2000-year-old man known to world if it weren't for Steve Allen.
It was Steve Allen, at a party in Los Angeles -- we always did parties. We were now known to do the 2000-year-old man at parties like Mozart used to play piano in salons. Well, we used to do command performances and out here Joe Fields gave a party and invited everybody -- everybody, to hear these two guys. And we only did it for friends because it had a Middle European Jewish Accent, and it was -- we started doing this 1950 to 1960 for parties, friends...
KING: That's where the album came from. REINER: Yes, and it was Steve Allen who heard it. George Burns came over to us after we had performed and he says, if you don't put this on record, he said I'm going to steal it. Edward G. Robinson says. I want to do that guy on Broadway. Steve Allen came over and he said, look, fellows, you got to put this on record.
And we said no, this is for friends. It's really very special. Inside stuff and for Jews and he says, well, I'm a Christian. I'll tell you what I do. I'll give you a studio. It was called World Pacific, a friend -- I'll rent the studio. I'll pay for everything. You just do the record, and he said if you don't like it, edit it, expunge it, burn it, whatever. It's yours.
KING: I never knew that.
REINER: Oh, no. Without that, Mel and I would have never put the record out.
KING: Mike Douglas, as a TV talk show host, what did Allen mean to you?
MICHAEL DOUGLAS, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: Well, he meant so much to me, Larry. I made my first appearance on his show, as a matter of fact, when he was with Westinghouse doing a syndicated show. This was after "The Tonight Show tenure, and I was hired by Westinghouse. And they sent me to California to appear on his show.
I was scared to death, and especially meeting this man. I mean, I had such respect for him. He was an innovator. He started a lot of -- he helped a lot of people. They mentioned several people there, but I remember on my show, Rosemarie once saw -- I had Tim as a kind of a regular guest and she said I'm going to tell Steve Allen about you. And from that, he just happened.
KING: Now Ed McMahon, you sat on that famous seat on "The Tonight Show."
ED MCMAHON, FORMER CO-HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Yes.
KING: Now, Steve Allen didn't have a sidekick, did he?
MCMAHON: Oh, yes. Sure.
REINER: Yes, Sure.
MCMAHON: Gene Rayburn.
KING: A lot of them, right?
MCMAHON: No, he invented that whole concept for television. And there were followers. You know, Steve Allen had him. Then Jack Paar had Hugh Downs and Johnny had me. No, that was a development of that guy where you'd use them in a sketch. He was the counterman, you know, the devil's advocate, whatever. No, Carl Reiner was the... KING: Steve Allen -- was Johnny right that Steve set the tone for all of this?
MCMAHON: Oh, yes. Totally, totally, because he opened it up. You know, you mentioned the Hudson Theater earlier. When they did it live, he would open the back doors of Hudson Theater, put a camera out there, and a police man would come down on a horse. And he'd start talking to the policemen, and he'd get five or six minutes of comedy never written, never planned. He just saw this guy -- what's it like out there? What's your name? Charlie. Well, Charlie, tell me -- and he's have a whole five minutes out of it.
KING: Rule breakers cause changes, right, Carl?
KING: We need them. We need our rule breakers and he was paramount.
REINER: And he was also one of the brightest human beings that ever lived.
KING: Yes, I'm going to get to that.
KING: All right, we're going to take a break, guys, and we'll come back with Steve Lawrence, Ed McMahon, Carl Reiner and Mike Douglas as we remember Steve Allen. As we do that, here's Steve on his own "Tonight Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")
STEVE ALLEN, TALK SHOW HOST: And -- oh, yuck.
ALLEN: Why do I say yes during the week when they say, how would you like in jump in some gelatin?
ALLEN: I don't want to go in. I want my mommy. Let all the big boys jump in. I want go home. Go to bed.
ALLEN: I don't want to go in.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, the National Broadcasting Company presents, "Tonight," starring Steve Allen.
ALLEN: In case you're just joining us, this is "Tonight," and I can't think of too much to tell you about it except I want to give you the bad news first. This program is going to go on forever
ALLEN: Oh, you think you're tired now. Wait until you see 1:00 roll around. It's a long show. It goes on from 11:30, here in the East, that is, from 11:30 to 1:00 in the morning. And we especially selected this particular theater. This is a New York theater called the Hudson. And we especially selected this for this very late show because this theater, oh, I think it sleeps about 800 people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Years later we're laughing at the same joke.
Steve, it was called "Tonight," right, not the "Tonight Show" at first. It was "Tonight."
LAWRENCE: It was called "Tonight." "The Tonight Show" first and then the Sunday show was called "The Steve Allen Show." But, I must say that you know the entertainment world lost a genius today. Johnny's comments were right on, Carl Reiner's, all of us, we have lost a very dear, dear friend. And, to me, he was, he was a mentor and like we would hang around a show, and just watch all the great stars parade. And he introduces, a guy said, wonderful new comedians.
KING: He loved comics.
LAWRENCE: Loved comics introduced Lenny Bruce. He introduced Billy Crystal, and Steve Martin, and Jonathan Winters. I mean it was like party time every night. We just couldn't wait to go to the theater.
KING: With us on phone, guys, is Bill Allen, the son of Steve Allen.
Are you there, Bill?
BILL ALLEN, STEVE ALLEN'S SON: I am, Larry, how are you tonight?
KING: I'm fine, where were you and how did you hear of your dad's passing?
BILL ALLEN: Well, actually my dad was at my home visiting his grandchildren and helping them carve their Halloween pumpkins when he was taken a little ill and asked me if he could go relax in the den where he spent so many lazy Sunday afternoons with his grandchildren, and took a bit of a nap and unfortunately didn't wake up from that nap.
KING: You went in to wake him up he had passed away.
BILL ALLEN: He had. He had.
KING: Were the grandchildren any witness to this.
BILL ALLEN: No, they were not, thankfully. They were busy. They were carving pumpkins or getting off and getting ready for bed. But he was devoted to those kids and they will miss him terribly.
KING: What kind of father was he?
BILL ALLEN: He was a terrific father. A lot of people are often surprised to hear that someone who could take the time to write 8,500 songs and publish 54 books and work as much as he did in the last 50 years could find time to be any kind of parent at all. But he was my little league coach, he was always in the stands for every event, whether it was arts, or sports, or you name it. He was a devoted father, and I will be grateful to my dying day.
KING: Were you the oldest child?
BILL ALLEN: No, I'm the youngest actually. Steve Junior was the oldest, then Brian, David, and I brought up the caboose.
KING: So, Jane Meadows is your mother.
BILL ALLEN: Jane Meadows is my mother.
KING: And how is she taking this?
BILL ALLEN: Well, she is bearing up as well as she can simply because between her and my father they never left anything unsaid, particularly their love for each other. And I think she knows to the very core of her being how much he loved her and knows that he knew to the very core of his being how much she loved and was devoted to him.
KING: Bill, do you know when services are planned?
BILL ALLEN: We are going to do something very private in the next few days just as family, and then try and invite friends to a memorial service where we can celebrate his creativity rather than mourn his loss sometimes soon.
KING: What was cause of death?
BILL ALLEN: Apparently, heart failure, or heart attack.
KING: He said he wasn't feeling well, though.
BILL ALLEN: He was tired. He had otherwise on Sunday performed one of his best music comedy shows ever to a standing-room only audience, and enjoyed himself. He gave a 90-minute performance without -- well, as you can see by the kind of performance he is giving with Terry Gibbs on your screen. That was his energy level. The audience fueled him and for all of his fans who are out there tonight, I want to tell you, they helped keep him alive, vibrant, creative, and prolific, for 78 years and all of us in family are extremely grateful for it.
KING: Thank you, Bill.
BILL ALLEN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Thank you for sharing these moments with us.
BILL ALLEN: My love to all you guys. I've got to tell you, I suspect my mother is home watching now as she and my father sat side by side for so many years in their kitchen watching your show and to see all these people that they loved so dearly on the screen tonight. I know my dad would have wished you were talking about somebody else tonight so he could be next to her watching you all.
KING: Bill hold it a second -- Carl.
REINER: I'm just saying, I'm so aware that you're your father's son. His voice is coming out of this man.
LAWRENCE: Billy was the biggest baby I saw in my life. He was the longest, I mean, the longest child. You know, Jane and Steve are very tall people. On the show, they used to call me Little Steve, because when they called Steve everybody turned around. So, he was Big Steve and I was Little Steve. When Billy was born, we went over to the house and saw the baby. He filled the crib from one to end the other. His legs were hanging out to the side. He was the longest kid that we ever saw.
KING: Thanks for calling, Bill.
BILL ALLEN: And you'll never let me forget it, Steve.
KING: Thank you, Bill.
BILL ALLEN: Good night.
KING: We saw him playing vibes with Terry Gibbs, the other musician along with Steve Lawrence in this group.
How good was he musically?
DOUGLAS: He was a fine pianist and a composer. He wrote some great songs. In fact, Steve and Eydie recorded his best "This Can Be the Start of Something Big." A great record on that.
I used to sing it as an opening song until I wore it out.
KING: It's a great opening number.
DOUGLAS: It's a fantastic opening number.
KING: Back with more of out tribute to Steve Allen. Still to come, Senator Joseph Lieberman, candidate for vice president of the United States. Tomorrow night, the Lazios will be with us and Andy Rooney. Thursday night, Katie Couric.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): When forgetting is forgotten,
STEVE ALLEN: Forget it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Mr. Morton, I wasn't finished.
STEVE ALLEN: That's what you think, sister. Mrs. McNemora (ph), I want you to know that while you were on, the phones did not stop ringing. I'll tell that much, so let's look again at the tote board. The new total is $27.15.
Listen, sister, while you were singing, $100 in pledges was withdrawn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't that marvelous. And now for my next number.
STEVE ALLEN: Wait a minute, we can't afford another number from you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we get back with our guests, here's a bit Steve Allen always told me was one of his favorites: Steve the sportscaster. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE ALLEN: You're own stupid jerk, Bill Allen, bringing you -- how are you? -- the complete sports round-up of the world of sports for all you jerky sports out there in sports land.
Well, what's new in sports? I'll tell you what's new. The 1958 ouch baseball season is getting underway with the annual -- good night folks, that is it.
All right, here we go. Now...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: When he cracked up -- nobody cracked up like Steve Allen.
With us on the phone now is Don Rickles.
DON RICKLES, ENTERTAINER: Hello, Larry. KING: Hello, Don.
RICKLES: Unfortunately, you are calling me for this because, just watching that bit, too, he was one heck of a man.
KING: He sure was. Did you ever work his show?
RICKLES: Yes, I did, a few times, as a matter of fact. The highlight of the time was I worked the show and he had a live camel on the show and he had the camel come over. He said, Rickles, go kiss the camel. And, like a moron, I walked up to the camel and he spit on me. And I went home and the wife couldn't figure out if it was me or the kitchen. And I smelled for about three or four days. In fact, I went to the synagogue and the rabbi's hat spun.
KING: What was his -- serious for a moment -- his contribution to this business you are all in?
RICKLES: Well he was, one of the most creative gentlemen I have ever known. I mean he always came up with something different and something new. And he was full of inspiration, and always looked out for the other comedians. He was one of the kind of guys that from the time I know of him and spent time with him, he was always interested in how things were going for you. And I thought that was a wonderful trait because our business is so competitive and you don't see that too often.
But he was, he was really concerned about other people, and I thought that was very nice on his part.
KING: And you do a lot, you do Letterman a lot, do you "The Tonight Show."
RICKLES: Yeah I do.
KING: Do you see the remnants -- by remnants, I mean the continuance of Allen in those programs.
RICKLES: Yeah, along with Johnny, I mean I think Steve Allen and Carson were guys that made it all happen, and don't forget Jack Paar was very good in his day doing that too. So they were all had different personalities, and they all did great, you know. And, of course, I hosted and I was marvelous.
MCMAHON: Yes. I was there, Don.
KING: Don, he passed away in his sleep, I guess that is the way.
KING: If you have to go that is the way to go.
RICKLES: I think God was good to him because there is no suffering, we all have to go some day but I think he was blessed that he had to leave us that he went that way.
KING: Don, I thank you very much for being part of this.
RICKLES: I thank you and I just want to say that it is so great to see you Steve Lawrence, I got a chill.
KING: A chill?
RICKLES: I got a chill seeing Steve Lawrence.
LAWRENCE: Thank you, Don.
RICKLES: He has that look like he knows where he is.
KING: What about Mike Douglas? How -- what is it like to look at Mike Douglas?
RICKLES: Mike Douglas, I can finally see. He has got a lot of gray hair now, and he should stay in Florida, and just lay in the sand and wait for big call.
KING: What about Ed McMahon? What are you thoughts on Ed?
RICKLES: Well, since Johnny retired, Ed is walking around with a Budweiser truck looking for work.
KING: And Carl Reiner.
RICKLES: He is throwing Mel Brooks in front of a car.
KING: Don, sleep well.
RICKLES: Yeah, and let Steve rest in peace, and thank you for letting me be part of the evening.
KING: Thank you for being a part.
RICKLES: And Larry, keep your chin up. I mean, put a little more make up on, you don't look good.
KING: Thanks, Don.
RICKLES: My pleasure.
KING: OK, it is always good talking to you. We will be back with more of our tribute, I think, to Steve Allen. Don't go away.
ALLEN: The funniest thing I ever did, and it was not that I was funny, but it was funny, I went out on the sidewalk, on 38th Street, the garment district on New York, and I asked five or six people the same question. I said: Politics, presidential election come up, assume that you have been responsibly behind a given candidate, but at last minute you find out that he is an admitted heterosexual.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Could vote for him or her?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no way.
ALLEN: If there were a person running for presidency who was an acknowledged heterosexual, speak the truth, would you vote for that person for president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say it again.
ALLEN: I am sorry, our time is up.
If person went on television, running for the presidency and admitted to being a heterosexual, could you vote for him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ALLEN: You could?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ALLEN: On what grounds?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know.
ALLEN: You don't know but you still vote for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ALLEN: Have you ever voted for a heterosexual, do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, no. You are talking about sexual, no, no, no, I would never for vote for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Steve Allen, dead at 78, his son called in. He died at his son's home, visiting his grandchildren. Took a nap, apparent heart attack.
With our panel now on the phone is Andy Williams, one of the great stars for many years, in this medium of television.
Did you know Steve well, Andy?
ANDY WILLIAMS, ENTERTAINER: I knew Steve very well, I mean, I worked with him for 2 1/2 years, I was on his show. And he really taught me so much I can't thank him -- I could never thank him enough for what I learned from Steve.
KING: Did you follow Steve Lawrence? WILLIAMS: No, Steve and I were on at the same time,
KING: Oh yeah?
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, he was on, we alternated, I was on two times a week, one week, and I was on three times the next week.
LAWRENCE: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday and Thursday. That was.
WILLIAMS: That is right.
KING: Worked with Pat Marshall?
WILLIAMS: I -- Pat Marshall for a while, and then it eventually got down to Pat Kirby.
KING: He loved, Andy, helping performers didn't he?
WILLIAMS: He was the best. I mean, how else would we have learned what we know, what Steve Lawrence knows, Eydie knows, what I know. I can speak for myself about my television career, I mean that is -- he started it. And I am always grateful to him and always will be for what I learned from Steve doing those shows.
KING: We are looking at Louie Armstrong there on the right. That is Doc Severinson, I believe.
KING: Lot of music on that show, right, Steve Lawrence?
LAWRENCE: A lot of music, a lot of comedy, and a lot of love. Steve was -- he just loved to laugh, and he had the most infectious contagious laugh. You didn't even have to know what he were a was laughing at, you would laugh.
KING: I said Louie Armstrong, that is Dizzy Gillespie. I said Louis -- that is Gillespie.
Steve was playing too, he played a lot of instruments.
Andy, he really knew music, didn't he Andy?
WILLIAMS: He was the best. Steve, you look great on television. You look younger than I do.
KING: Rickles is getting warmed over looking at Steve; Andy thinks you -- what you taking pills, Steve?
WILLIAMS: I feel very close to Steve, I love him very much. Steve Lawrence I'm talking about.
LAWRENCE: Thank you, Andy. We all do go back a long time, and we have all remained friends over these years. That is the wonderful thing about that show that brought us all together was Andy and Eydie and I, and Pat. And Pat, who is now Pat Marshall, who is now Mrs. Larry Gilbard (ph). So we all remained friends over these many, many years. And Steve was a great teacher.
KING: I would imagine, Mike Douglas, all these people that we've got on tonight, guested on your show.
DOUGLAS: Definitely, all of them, co-hosting, Andy co-hosted.
WILLIAMS: That is right.
KING: Andy, it is tough when someone in a bracket you grew up with, sort of, passes along isn't it?
WILLIAMS: This is terrible.
KING: These are hard days more for the people in the business than the people who appreciated him at home.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it is because he meant so much to so many of us. I mean, I learned so much from him, although I wasn't one of his closest friends, you know in the -- in his personal life, I feel that I lost a very personal friend in him.
KING: Andy, thank you so much and continued good luck.
WILLIAMS: My pleasure, thank you.
KING: These was another side of Steve Allen. There were many sides to him, many facets, he wrote a book a week. He also got involved in the campaign, this campaign, it was in today's paper, "L.A. Times" today, Thursday -- Tuesday, October 31st, Steve Allen is warning that TV is leading children down a moral sewer, and how you and I can stop it. We will talk about that aspect in the life of late Steve Allen, when we come back. Still to come, Joe Lieberman don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Away down the street. Do you hear the beat? Do hear the neat little rhythm of the happy dancing feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE," JULY 3, 1998)
KING: Jerry Springer says he's in entertainment. Is he to you?
ALLEN: He's in it. He ought to be thrown out if he continues do what he's doing. I'm glad to have about eight seconds here to express my complete disgust at the degree to which filth and sleaze and vulgarity and every kind of offensive language is now dominant in our language. There's a place for the dirty joke or the "goddammit" when you I hit my thumb with the hammer. It's human nature. That's not what they're doing. They're resorting to sleaze in the most vile way for commercial purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Carl Reiner, he was asking not to bar this, but for sponsors not to sponsor it. Was he on target?
REINER: I think so. I think so. You can't legislate against it. It has to be the people wanting to do it because they care and he cared so much. He -- that's what I'm going to miss about Steve. You got a letter a week from him about something important.
DOUGLAS: That's right.
REINER: He never went to an affair -- a good affair about good social things that he wasn't there.
KING: He was the first peacenik, right? Ban the bomb. I remember him sending letters. Do you think that's the right way, riding sponsors, Ed?
MCMAHON: Oh, absolutely. I'm just -- we've got to do something about ii. I mean, there's got to be some kind of control because it is really getting so, as he said, sleazy. That's a good word for it. And somehow we've got to -- I am of the old school. You know, I don't use bad language. You know, I spent years in the Marine Corps and never swore because I was afraid I'd do that on the air. So I don't -- all my kids grew up and never heard me do any bad language.
KING: Never heard you curse.
REINER: That's a disadvantage.
MCMAHON: It's tough. It's tough. You know, I say, oh, gosh and it just doesn't quite say it. But I think we've got to go back to that because we're just now -- I do a lot of interviews. A lot of phoners in the morning with disk jockey people in the morning -- the drive time shows and the language they start get into.
KING: It's crazy.
MCMAHON: I pull it back. I say, hey, guys. I have a picture of my mother in my wallet. No more. That kind of thing
KING: Mike Douglas, are you embarrassed about a lot of what you see on television?
DOUGLAS: Oh, yes. I wrote about it in my book. I found it hard to do because it's my style to take people apart and they asked me -- the writers asked me what I thought about today's television. And I was very frank and honest. I don't think it's necessary. It's the cheap way to get attention. It really and truly is. Doing it the way stars like Steve and the Bob Hopes and people like that. They went through life, had tremendously successful careers and never used language like that. Sure the double entendre is about as far as they want. KING: Steve Lawrence, he was really committed to the causes he believed in, as you know, right? When Steve got onto something, he didn't let go -- Steve Lawrence?
LAWRENCE: Yes. I'm sorry.
KING: He didn't let go of causes -- where did you go, Steve?
LAWRENCE: No, I was just listening to what the guys was saying and not only did he feel that way about sleaze in comedy but he also felt that way about the sleaze in music. it was just everything -- spilling over into society in every art form. It got the point where, you know, he just felt so badly about it and he got together this group and they were taking out ads in newspapers and the trade papers trying to persuade the sponsors not to endorse this type of humor and music. And he was right. I agree totally with him, 100 percent.
KING: His intelligence was extraordinary. How funny was he, Carl? You're our Mark Twain -- American Mark Twain award.
REINER: Well, I'll tell you how funny he was.
KING: How funny was he?
REINER: He was one of the few people who didn't need a straight line. The shorter the straight line, the easier -- he got laughs. If you said hello to him, he could find a way to make a punch line out of hello.
KING: And quick.
REINER: Well, he would say hell-low. Well, not hell high, because hell is low -- or something. He would puns.
REINER: He didn't say that. He'd make a better one if I said hello to him. But he had the ability to do that. I remember Mel Brooks coming up to him one day and he said, you're very funny. He was very tall. And I loved that. When you went to a party you could always find him. And I always went to him. I always found him. Standing next to him -- what Mel said to him was, you know, you shouldn't tell jokes. You're too tall. Tall people shouldn't tell jokes. And he said to him, you should lift something. Lift things. Don't tell jokes. You're too tall.
REINER: And I'll never forget, Steve fell over.
KING: Lifting is good. How funny was he, Steve Lawrence?
LAWRENCE: Steve was hysterically funny. He was not only a comedian, but he was a wit and he always had a way of turning a phrase. And he just -- it never ceased to amaze me. Every night when we were on for an hour-and-a-half, an hour and 45 minutes -- then it went to an hour-and-a-half after that, he'd never run out of things to say. And he was truly one of the -- in the true sense of the word -- one of the first great liberals I ever met in my life.
LAWRENCE: Because he really, before the word, you know, changed a lot but he really stood up for his beliefs. He would have people on the show that were not popular at the time because what they subscribed to either politically or some other arena, and he gave them a platform. Lenny Bruce was a perfect example. Some other performers who came along were the same way.
And Steve, though, to me was like -- you know, I feel particularly sad about this because he was almost like a father in a sense. He just taught me so much and I just couldn't wait to hang around him and watch him and listen to him. And I loved him dearly and I will miss him dearly.
KING: How did you hear about it today, Steve?
REINER: I heard about it on television.
KING: How'd you hear it, Carl?
REINER: Yes, television, and I was -- I never reacted so strongly. I said -- I kept saying, oh, no. No, no, no. And I was reading the paper. I said I'm going to send some money in for this to read in the paper that he's got a cause -- and by the way putting your money where your mouth is, he too out a full page.
KING: That was his money.
REINER: With his own money.
DOUGLAS: That's expensive.
REINER: And I said, no, no. It can't be. He's in the newspaper. You can't die if you're in the newspaper.
MCMAHON: It can't happen that fast.
KING: How did you hear, Mike Douglas?
DOUGLAS: I heard it on CNN, Larry, and I was shocked because my memory of the man was very special because when I did that show years ago, when I was starting my show, he was so kind, and so understanding and so nice to me. Didn't make my uncomfortable at all and I remember that.
KING: He loved other performers. He had no jealousy. He never -- like I was honored to succeed him as abbot of the Friars Club. He sent me a wonderful letter. he called me up and he made me feel like it was his idea. It was just, he -- and that's a sign of a lot of self-confidence which when you can do that.
REINER: Well, he knew. He knew what he was about. I mean, he was never at a loss for anything: ideas, music. But you know, comedians -- that laugh he did with that hat. He laughed at other comedians the way he was laughing at himself. That's the greatest single break-up in the history of television because people used to break-up fake break-up.
MCMAHON: That's a real one.
REINER: That's a real one, and the fact he went with it. He knew -- instinctively he knew it was funny because he wouldn't say, oh, no, let's -- he just kept going. That's the funniest thing.
KING: That, Ed, was also a show business marriage that worked.
MCMAHON: Yes. They were always together. They went everywhere together. They were devoted to one another. He came down several times to help me judging on "Star Search" and they were -- they loved that. They loved to come down to Disney World and be down in Orlando.
And they just have a closeness, and I would always see them -- Harry Crane, who we lost, the great comedy writer who brought us "The Honeymooners," among other things, I always loved to go to that birthday party because at the end of the evening there would be Steve at the piano. Jane would be right beside him, and we'd all be hanging around. It was a wonderful time.
KING: We loved him and we thank you all for this. Steve Lawrence, Ed McMahon, Carl Reiner, Mike Douglas, and Bill Allen and Don Rickles and Andy Williams for this memories of a great man who passed away today, Steve Allen.
KING: Thank you all very much.
Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is next. Don't go away.
KING: We were with him the night Al Gore picked him. Now we are with him just a week before the election. He's Senator Joe Lieberman, Democratic vice president candidate, joining us from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a state which is neck and neck.
Before we move into politics, I know you knew him, I know you agreed with a lot of what he thought about violence and filth on television. Your thoughts on the passing of Steve Allen today.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Larry. I loved Steve Allen. I mean, I grew up, you know, I also say to people, now that I'm a critic of television sometimes, that I'm a child of the television age, So when I criticize television it's out of love, and that it's become less than it used to be.
Steve Allen was a creative genius, hilarious, gave us so much pleasure. And then it was a thrill for me later in life, over the last several years, to get to know him. And his work on the Parents' Television Council, and to work together to try to raise up the standards of television, particularly during the hours when kids are watching.
This was a great person, leaves a tremendous body of work, and just a lot of wonderful memories. He made us laugh. He made us seen things that we wouldn't otherwise have seen. He was wonderful.
KING: Was he right in that approach? Right to the sponsors if you don't like what you see?
LIEBERMAN: Yeah, absolutely. It was one of the things that people like Bill Bennett and I have done. In some ways, it is one of the more effective things we've done because it says to some of the advertisers, you know, take a look at what you're making possible with your advertising. Or it says to the consumers: If you don't like what is on television at hours when your kids are watching, write to the advertisers. Ask them to ask the producers to give us better stuff because their money is putting it on.
And it did have an effect. The Parents' Television Council mobilized as large a list of just regular people out there who are -- feel like they are in a struggle with the entertainment culture to raise their own kids as it exists. So God bless the memory of Steve Allen.
KING: Senator, how do we explain this? It is one week to go, no poll has any separation of more than 3 percentage points. Someone said today, it's possible that Bush could lose Florida and still win, Gore could lose Tennessee and still win. Explain this race to me.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I wish I could. I mean, we always figured it would be a close race. It's been much more up and down than most people would have expected. And these are, though people have known the Bush family and obviously Al Gore, these are also people who are running on their own for the first time for president. So there's a certain settling out there.
I think also that a lot of people are so accustomed now, in a short time, to the prosperity that they think it's just going to keep going on no matter who is president, Larry, and that is not true.
We sense some momentum in our direction in the state polls we are seeing. I think it's because, as the election gets clearer, people are saying to themselves: Hey, the times have really been good, eight years we've gone from the biggest deficits, biggest surpluses, 22 million new jobs, good, high stock market. Why change horses here in mid-stream? Let's keep going in the same direction. I think that's going to move people to Al Gore.
KING: Why is it close? Shouldn't your ticket be way ahead?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I think it's just because a lot of people maybe have thought, without thinking a lot about it, that the prosperity goes on automatically. It doesn't. It doesn't.
If Al Gore is elected, we are going to continue to have surpluses in the federal government, which is the most important thing the federal government can do. Honestly, an American academy of actuaries said last week, under George Bush's economic plan, Larry, we are going to go back into annual deficits, won't pay off the long-term debt, high interest rates, high unemployment, not where we want to go.
So I think that's the message that we are putting out, and I think that's why there's beginning to be movement in our direction. But you know, I believe we are going to win. I believe with all my heart we are going to win, but I wouldn't say it's going to be a runaway by any means.
KING: Can you win Florida?
LIEBERMAN: Yeah, I'm in Florida. I've been in Florida so much sometimes I have the feeling I'm running for office down here. Florida is key, and I honestly don't believe that Governor Bush could win the election if we win Florida.
I've very grateful to the people here because nobody thought we would be competitive, Al Gore and I, in Florida a week out from the election. But I think people, there's a lot of prosperity here, a lot of seniors are -- want a good, solid prescription drug benefit like we are offering. They don't like the privatization of Social Security that Governor Bush has talked about, which would take a trillion dollars out and dry up the trust fund at the beginning of the 2020s, So we are in a battle here.
Florida reports early on election night. If we can take Florida, I think it's going to be a tough night for our opponents. That's of course what I'm hoping will happen.
KING: We will be right back with more of senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
Tomorrow night the Lazios of New York will be here. Last Friday, Dick Cheney was aboard. We'll be right back.
KING: Senator Lieberman, you've been hitting Mr. -- Governor Bush on experience. And here's what your opponent Dick Cheney said Tuesday, in Iowa, today. "If there's some ticket, one of the two tickets, lacking in experience, it seems to me it's those guys. They've spent virtually their entire careers in elective office, getting paid by the government, Never having met a payroll, living inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C."
How do you respond? That's saying you don't have the experience.
LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, public service is a profession. It doesn't mean that the only way you come into it is by being in public service. But president of the United States is the most important, complicated, demanding job in the world. And when you look at the relative experience of these two candidates and how they've handled what their record is, how they handle the experience, I just think that Al Gore is so much more ready to be a great president.
He's had national and international experience that is wide. He knows world leaders. He's worked to balance the budget and keep the economy growing.
Governor Bush, with all respect, his record in Texas on environmental protection is bad; on health insurance for women and children is bad; his education record we thought was good, but the RAND Corporation criticized it pretty severally last week. Story in the papers today about a congressional report on nursing home violations in Texas, tough conditions for seniors because the state pays about the lowest Medicaid reimbursement of most any state in the country.
I just think, when you look at the record, look at his proposals for the future, overspending the surplus, to take us back to debt, the whole business about pulling our troops out of NATO. Now I gather that the Bush campaign was embarrassed about that, and sent word to the NATO secretary-general that, no, they weren't going to pull our troops out of NATO.
I think, on balance, Governor Bush is not ready, with all respect, at this point, to be the kind of president that America needs and Al Gore is.
KING: Are you concerned about, and we had him on last, Ralph Nader?
LIEBERMAN: Well, this is, as we said before, Larry, this is a close election, and any number of factors can swing different states. And no question, Ralph Nader can have an effect on how a handful of states go that could determine who the next president of the United States is.
And you know, we've been saying, in some of these states, a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. I guess we were validated in that statement by the fact that there's a Republican committee paying money to television stations to run a commercial with Ralph Nader attacking Al Gore.
But our appeal is to people thinking about voting for Ralph Nader to think about the issues that matter to you, environmental protection, consumer protection, right to choose, campaign finance reform, McCain-Feingold. And Al Gore and I are so much closer to your position on that than George Bush and Dick Cheney. I just think about how you're going feel if you wake up November 8, and your vote for Ralph Nader helped elect George Bush president, and a lot that you value will be threatened in the years ahead.
So, but the Nader vote can be very important. I think it's beginning to move toward Al and me. I sure hope so.
KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. All the candidates have been on with us; the Gores a couple of times; the Bushes two or three times. This is the second appearance for Senator Lieberman. We've had Secretary Cheney on twice as well. We will be right back.
KING: Senator Lieberman, some personal attributes here. We were with you when this started. What surprised you about running?
LIEBERMAN: What surprised me about it, it's been an extraordinary about experience. I'm just so grateful to Al Gore for giving me the chance, and you know the excitement is that you honestly get to see America and the American people are wonderful. They've greeted me with respect, the warmth, with encourage. You know, you've got love this country.
KING: Have you felt or seen any anti-Semitism?
LIEBERMAN: Not a whit.
KING: Not a sign at a rally?
LIEBERMAN: Not a sign, and you know the wonderful thing is, sometimes I'll talk about the fact that, you know, this was a barrier broken by Al Gore that I'm the first Jewish-American to run on a national ticket. And the first time I said that I was surprised, a crowd out in an area where I don't people many Jewish people live started to cheer because it touches what people want to feel America is, which is a land of opportunity, freedom, where you're judged by your qualifications, not by your religion or nationality, or race or anything else. So it has been an inspiring experience. Win or lose, I love this country and I just want to serve it.
KING: Any second thoughts on staying on the ballot in Connecticut for the Senate?
LIEBERMAN: No, it's over. I did what the folks in the Connecticut Democratic Party who nominated me asked me to do. I will abide by the decision of the people of Connecticut.
KING: Help us. What happens if you win on next Tuesday, the vice presidency? What happens to the Senate seat in Connecticut?
LIEBERMAN: Well I think the legislature will try to have a special election next year. The governor is not so sure he wants that to happen. There will be a push and pull. At worst, there will be a special election two years from now, when everybody who wants to participate can. A lot of them who wanted to run for the Senate were running for other offices this year couldn't, and the voters can participate as they couldn't fully this year, because there was no time to have primaries.
So I think it's in the best interests of the people of the state. But a seat in the Senate shouldn't be filled on the run.
KING: Do you know your schedule the rest of the week?
LIEBERMAN: Do I know my schedule?
LIEBERMAN: You know, sometimes I say we are like a military group, an army, which is making tactical decisions every day depending on intelligence we are receiving. I mean, I'm in Florida tonight. I'll be here tomorrow. I'm then going to Little Rock, on to St. Louis. We are going to be in St. Louis Thursday. Then up into the upper Midwest, in Wisconsin. And then to Pittsburgh Friday morning, back to Florida Friday afternoon, And thank God, no pun intended, then comes the Sabbath, and we rest.
KING: And where are you Sunday and Monday, do you know?
LIEBERMAN: I don't know, but I think what we are going to do is basically keep running for a couple of days and just do a lot of stops in as many areas as we can.
Al Gore and I did a work-a-thon on Labor Day, where we worked through the night, and I wouldn't be surprised, knowing his capacity for work and our desire to do everything to carry our message to every point in America. We are just going to keep running almost around the clock for the last couple of days.
KING: You think you might be then up all night on Sunday night and Monday, and all day might go at it?
LIEBERMAN: I would not be surprised. I don't think the decision has been made, it's so close, and we want to reach out and touch as many people as we can throughout the country with our message to keep America moving forward, keep the prosperity growing, bring in more and more people to the winner's circle, keep America's government in surplus. All that really requires the kind of face to face, and get out the vote. Really to urge everybody, closest election in 40 years. If you can vote, why wouldn't you vote this year? You could really affect the course of history.
KING: Thanks, Joe. Regards to Hadassah.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Larry, I love you. Regards to your family, wonderful family.
KING: Thank you, you too. Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate.
Tomorrow night, the Lazios of New York. They are challenging Hillary Clinton for the Senate. And Andy Rooney, who takes on everybody, doesn't he?
Thanks for joining us from Los Angeles. Good night, Steve.
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