Skip to main content /transcript



Encore Presentation: Darva and Rick Reuinite for First Time

Aired August 26, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: It was marriage at first sight, a TV wedding witnessed by millions. But "I do" soon turned to "What did I do." Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell face off next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. Fox scored a ratings bonanza in February of last year with a reality show called "Who Wants to Marry a Multi- Millionaire?" Rick Rockwell was the multi-millionaire, Darva Conger the woman who, supposedly, wanted to be his wedded wife. But their honeymoon didn't last long. In fact, it hardly got started.

After a nasty public split, the two were thrown into a relentless media spin cycle. Since their bust-up, Rick and Darva have only gotten back together once. They reunited very temporarily on this show.

Before Rick joined us, I asked Darva what she's learned from all she's been through.



KING: Don't go on TV shows.

CONGER: Don't go on TV shows. Oh, no, I didn't learn that. I've done a lot of these. Don't go on quote, unquote reality-based TV shows, and don't do something that you know isn't a good idea because you think it won't be you.

I knew that my motives were essentially pure. I knew I didn't want to marry a multimillionaire. I was assumed the show was set up like I assumed that most dating and reality programs were. My innate knowledge of Hollywood is nursed. I went on the show for a trip to Vegas and a chance to be on TV for 10 minutes and look cute for a guy that I had recently broken up with and to get his attention.

KING: You had a boyfriend.

CONGER: I had a boyfriend. We were broken up at the time, but, yes, that was my motive, and it was a stupid motive and I'm not proud of it, but that's all it was. And boy did I get his attention and the rest of the world. KING: Was he ticked?

CONGER: He was amused. I mean, it was very funny at first, but then when I came back and there was all the media attention and it was getting kind of nasty, he was very supportive, and we rekindled our romance he stuck with me through the whole thing.

KING: Were you amazed at the public reaction?

CONGER: I was. I was amazed. But I've also just learned to realize that this is what we do as a society. We find something of interest for some reason, it's of interest to a lot of people and we just keep putting it out there and keep putting it out there. I'm sort of at peace with all of it now. I'm not offended. I'm not victimized. This is part of life in America.

KING: For a time, it was great public anger with you.

CONGER: Yes, there was. It's sort of strange, it's like you're so mad at me and what did I do to you? Gosh, I'm not even this mad at me and I did it to me.

KING: I guess thought maybe you used it. I mean, you got some gifts. You're auctioning off the ring, right?

CONGER: I'm auctioning off the ring, Make-A-Wish Foundation this Saturday night is auctioning off the ring. I gave away Trooper and everything from the show to charity. I didn't profit from the show.

KING: So you get nothing of what the gifts were.

CONGER: Oh, yes, I profited from my "Playboy" deal, obviously, but to me it's like OK, well, I did a job.

KING: Why did you do the "Playboy"?

CONGER: Lost my job. I didn't have a chance to get another job as a nurse and quite honestly, in that situation, it was the best decision for me that place and time. I'm not ashamed of posing for "Playboy." It was a great deal.

KING: You knew it would hurt you, PR-wise.

CONGER: Hurt me.

KING: Elements of PR.

CONGER: I knew that there would be controversy. And that was something that I took into account when I chose to do it. The good far outweighed the bad and it didn't have an impact or effect on the person I know myself to be.

KING: What was the good beyond the pay?

CONGER: Beyond the pay is the fact that well, it gave me a sense of security and a sense of I can get through this. This is not the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I can get through this. It also paved the way for me to look into other avenues and using that financial security I was able to start my own Web site,

KING: Darva's what?


KING: And what does it do?

CONGER: This is a free Web site. It revolves around fitness, nutrition, health, tips on lifestyle, book reviews, movie reviews.

KING: You certainly are fit.

CONGER: Yes, and it also draws upon my nursing background. Much of what I loved about nursing was interacting with patients, giving advice, advocacy, et cetera. I can do this with the Web site.

KING: Are you back with your boyfriend?

CONGER: I am back with my poor boyfriend, yes. I am.

KING: What he had to go through with this.

CONGER: He went through so much, the tabloid intrusions, the fact that everybody saying, oh, my gosh. You're dating Darva Conger. But he knows me. He knows the real me.

KING: And why -- I know our producer set it this up and I work here, so I come in and I'm happy to do this. How did they get you to appear tonight with Rick?

CONGER: Well, you know, they've been trying for quite sometime.

KING: I gather that.

CONGER: I've turned it down over and over again but you know, number one, I'll be completely honest with you, it is a great -- it's an opportunity for me to promote and publicize, but I realized that also I have closure and last year's events are just that, last year's events.

I have moved on. For many people, there are still many unanswered questions. And they want to see this, and I could think of no better arena than do it here with you tonight to close it. This is the first, last and only. It's over.

KING: Are you going to tell us about it.

CONGER: Sure, I am.

KING: You haven't seen him. When was the last time you saw him?

CONGER: When we returned from that Caribbean cruise last February 20, I think. KING: And you'd already -- the 20th. My God, it's exactly a year.

CONGER: Yes, it is.

KING: You had already broken up by the time that ship landed?

CONGER: Broken up whatever there was to break up. I had told him within 36 hours of the marriage that I had made huge mistake. This wasn't for me. I didn't mean for this to happen and how sorry I was. So it was over for me, essentially before anyone else ever knew about it, before allegations of fraud, et cetera, and so on.

KING: Well, we're going to make a little history here now.


KING: In a moment -- we'll take a break, and when we come back, their first time together in exactly a year, this is February 21st, that was February 20th, that's a year and a day to me, Rick Rockwell joins us. Don't go away.




KING: We're back. We, by the way, will be including your phone calls. Now a little history is about to be made. We've got no fanfare or anything. Joining us now on set, if he'd come forward, is the other half of this duo, Rick Rockwell. Rick, want to come out?

Here he comes. This is the first time he and Darva have been together, first time interviewed together and first time together in a year since that day. Well, how do you feel?


CONGER: Hello, Rick. How are you?

ROCKWELL: I'm doing well. I've been worried sick about you.

CONGER: Wondering where I got to? You didn't see me anywhere?

KING: What were you worried about?

ROCKWELL: I'm joking, Larry.

KING: Are you nervous. She said she was nervous.

ROCKWELL: Um, not really, not particularly.


CONGER: You know what, I'd like to say something because I think this is a perfect opportunity...

KING: Say it.

CONGER: ... because I think we both, in a sense, did things that were not in our best interests but I'm not going into that. What I'd like to say is that I don't hold him responsible. I don't blame him. I'm not angry at him.

It's not his fault I chose go on that show. It's not his fault he chose me. I put myself in that position and I am the first one to say I should never have been there. I was initially, very defensive, very taken aback and I was less kind to him in the press than I should have been.

KING: Are you apologizing to him?

CONGER: I am apologizing to him for things that probably should not have been said in the sense that it didn't matter to me, your aesthetic value, the person that you were, nothing like that mattered to me in my decision not to carry on that marriage. I should never have been there. I should never have married you and I'm so sorry that I put myself in that position.

KING: What's you're reaction to that, Rick?

ROCKWELL: I think it's great. I never understood it from the start. I never understood why it had to be Rick versus Darva, and I tried to reach out, and...

KING: But you blasted each other publicly. You were publicly removed. This is your first time together in a year.

ROCKWELL: I was doing no blasting.

CONGER: You did a whole comedy series based on blasting me.

ROCKWELL: Actually, my comedy show is self-deprecating as anything. I mean, my whole take on this is, you know, what a dummy I am. I can't pick the right line at the supermarket. I think I'm going to get a wife in two hours on Fox.

KING: Let's go back a little. The program is "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?" It airs in February last year. The viewership goes from 23 million for the final -- jumps to 23 million in the final 30 minutes. Huge female audience, a third of all women between the age of 18 and 34 are tuned in. How did you get on the show?


KING: Because we learned later you weren't a multimillionaire, right? Or was that -- well, I'll get to that later. How did you get on the show?

ROCKWELL: My journey to the show was completely unorchestrated. I had got an anonymous e-mail, and the weird thing about it is in my book I have all the chronicle, all the history between myself and the producers, because I...

KING: You write in the book?

ROCKWELL: Yes, and I archive all my e-mail. So I have the written word about how this whole thing evolved as...

KING: All right. But you eventually get selected, right?

ROCKWELL: Correct.

KING: And you go, intending fully to marry someone and love them.

ROCKWELL: And attempt to build a relationship, yes.

KING: Wasn't that weird to begin with?


KING: Just off of the top.

ROCKWELL: Yeah, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the craziest thing I ever heard. But after I got to know the producers and I talked to them for a while and I realized their sincerity in it, and I -- again, when I was here the last time, I said, you know, there's 6 billion people in the world. Somehow my path led me to this show, and I just -- I thought that that was my destiny.

KING: Darva?


KING: What led you to this show?

CONGER: A phone call out of the blue to my house from the producers of "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?"

KING: How did they know about you?

CONGER: A doctor I worked with at the hospital in the emergency room told them about me. She was friends with one of the producers.

KING: And she thought you would be the kind of person who would go television and get married?

CONGER: Apparently -- in our little talks behind the scenes -- and her husband's a producer -- we assumed, we thought, we figured no way this show is for real. They had the people...

KING: So you went as a lark?

CONGER: I went as a lark thinking that I was an extra, I was filler, thinking that they had the girl selected. I thought you knew the girl. I thought I knew who it was. And when you walked past her on stage to get to me, I'm like, oh, no, that's not in the script. I...

KING: You thought it was a setup?

CONGER: Who -- who -- who I thought it was. I never thought it was me. I thought there was no way that they would have two strangers marry each other on TV. And I -- all I can say is I froze. I didn't know what to do. I thought I had to go through with it. I thought I would ruin everything.

I don't know what I thought. I thought a lot of dumb things and did a dumb thing. And I'm just here to say, can we all move on? It's over.

KING: This -- you believed in it completely, right?

ROCKWELL: Yes, I did.

KING: To the -- to the end. When you picked her, you picked her because you thought you wanted her. There was no gimmick in picking her to you.


KING: And you expected only good things?

ROCKWELL: I had -- I really did, and I have illustration after illustration of that. And all of the things that I've been able -- now that I have some perspective on this thing, now that we're a year down the road and I'm able to look back and kind of try to make some sense of it all, because I can empathize with where Darva is coming from -- it was a whirlwind. I don't think anybody knows what to do when a situation like this hits.

KING: I asked her, I'll ask you, were you surprised at reaction?

ROCKWELL: Absolutely.

KING: Public reaction?

ROCKWELL: Yeah, absolutely.

KING: You two became two of the most famous figures in the world.

CONGER: Infamous.

KING: Infamously famous.

ROCKWELL: Yeah, it's -- it was strange. It's -- you know, I use the analogy that you're like a pinata, and the media is at your birthday party, and you're the guest of honor, you're the pinata. And they keep whacking you with this stick, and when one reporter sees another reporter hit you and they make a dent in the pinata, the next reporter has to hit it harder, or else he hasn't made an impact with anyone. And it's Lewinsky, Bobbitt, Rick and Darva, and as soon as they're done beating the pinata until the point where it's grotesque, you don't want to see it anymore, they take the gifts and they go down the street to the next house where they're going to have the birthday party there.

KING: How did you feel when you would see him on, like this show?

CONGER: I didn't watch, sorry.

KING: But you had to watch some of his appearances.

CONGER: I didn't, I didn't, I didn't.

KING: Didn't watch any?

CONGER: And it's not a situation of enmity. I just -- quite honestly, you know, you and I are not two personalities that will ever mesh, no fault of either one of ours. We're just not two people that will ever...

KING: I think he still likes you. I think he still looks at you like...

CONGER: Let's not -- let's not do that.

KING: OK, all right, never mind.

CONGER: This -- this was never a relationship.


This was a bad TV show. That's all it was.

KING: Bad TV show.

CONGER: It was a bad TV show.

KING: What did you think when she was on?


KING: You would watch it?

ROCKWELL: I thought it was pretty interesting. I...

KING: Interesting?

ROCKWELL: Yeah, I thought it was interesting. I think there are a lot of things that I -- that quite frankly I would like to get some answers to.

KING: And we'll try to do that.

ROCKWELL: Yeah. KING: Let's clear it all up.

CONGER: We'll clear up what I'm comfortable speaking about. There's other things. You know, I just think it's time to move on. How does it matter?

KING: Darva, it ain't a trial. You don't have to answer. But he might have some questions that...

CONGER: And I may or may not answer them.

KING: You may have some, too.


KING: You may have some.

CONGER: I don't have any. I'm good. I'm happy. I've moved on.

KING: We'll be right back with the former Rockwells. Right? You are a former Rockwell.

CONGER: No, I'm not. The marriage was annulled. It means it never existed.

KING: It never existed.

ROCKWELL: We've got to go collect all those "People" magazines. It never happened.


CONGER: That's right.

KING: Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell together for the first time -- well, the second time. We'll be right back.





CONGER: If you feel that I am the perfect woman for you and you choose me to be your bride, I will be your friend, your lover and your partner throughout whatever life has to offer us. We'll have joy, maybe a few tears, but more ups than downs, and you will never be bored.



CONGER: Ooh. Famous last words. KING: Now, what -- what were you doing there?

CONGER: I was talking to someone else.

KING: Your boyfriend?

CONGER: I was talking to the...

KING: You were using Rick. He was a prop.

CONGER: Yeah, he was. He was, because I thought that -- like I said, to reiterate, I didn't think it was going to be me. I thought I could do anything I wanted to do, say anything I wanted to do. It wouldn't be me.

KING: Why did you pick her?

ROCKWELL: I picked Darva because of her profile, her answers to my questionnaire, and because of that final plea in large part.

KING: And she didn't look too bad, right?

CONGER: Sorry, wrong guy.

ROCKWELL: Yeah, I thought she was very attractive, and you know...


It was more beyond the physical. There were other women there that -- that I thought were very attractive, and Darva had a job. She had an education, she had a career. And I thought -- she was a little closer to my age. I thought we had, you know, more of a chance of making something gel.

KING: OK, what was...

CONGER: You do know -- I just want to interject this. But I wanted very much to have a friendship with you after this. I want to make that perfectly clear. I don't vilify you.

ROCKWELL: You did.

CONGER: I don't hate you. I wanted very much to be friends. I did find that impossible, and I'm not saying, oh, because you're a bad person. I just found it -- I found it impossible because our personalities just conflict so much. So this is not me trying to jump on the bash Rick Rockwell boat. It wasn't that I wanted so much of this public enmity. I -- I just -- we could not meet at a friendly level. And I feel it's a shame that we couldn't initially face the media gamut together, and say, hey, you know, bad idea for both of us, but we're friends.

ROCKWELL: Well, I offered the olive branch and said let's -- let's face the media together. And I got numerous messages to you, and you didn't respond to them. And then I started saying... CONGER: At what point in time did you get a message -- what timeframe was that? Because I never received a message from you.

ROCKWELL: I e-mailed you. I had Cheryl (ph) relay messages.

CONGER: I don't have -- I didn't have an e-mail -- I didn't have an e-mail address at that time.

KING: What did you want to do, appear together?

ROCKWELL: No, I said, you know, if you need...

KING: What are we asking about?

ROCKWELL: I said, if you need help and you want to do this together, I'm there for you.

CONGER: I didn't want to do it with you at that point in time. I didn't -- we weren't friends, Rick. You knew that. We were not friendly.

ROCKWELL: Well, you just said you wanted to face it together. So I'm confused.

CONGER: No. I said how nice it would have been if we could have done that on a friendly level. We weren't friends.

KING: In retrospect, should you have appeared -- in retrospect, should you have appeared...

CONGER: No, no, I don't believe so. I'm happy with -- you know, things turn out for the best.

KING: You're glad it turned out...

CONGER: Life is good. Old news. It's over.

KING: I don't know if he feels that way.

Should you have appeared together?

ROCKWELL: I really thought that if someone had gone with me afterward, even if there's no romantic magic, even if you're just being civil to each other and you're being kind and you show up after this 10-day honeymoon -- and all these allegations and all this phony bunk is swirling around, and they pull this 9-year-old restraining order out -- and somebody stands next...


KING: ... previous girlfriend.

ROCKWELL: Right. And somebody stands there and says, now hang on a second, I just spent 10 days with this guy, he seems like a gentleman to me. What's the next question? There's two sides to every story. CONGER: In every interview, I said I don't know anything about it. He was never that way toward me. It was not an issue for me. I didn't care. I didn't care about it at all.

I didn't like you based on our interactions, not those.


KING: He didn't bother you, though, did he?

CONGER: No, he didn't bother me.

KING: He didn't force himself on you?

CONGER: He didn't force himself. He was nothing like that.

ROCKWELL: May I -- may I address that, though?

KING: Sure.

ROCKWELL: This is one of the questions I have. If it had no bearing on anything, why did you put it in a court document?

CONGER: I had to. It was the only grounds to use for an annulment. Legally in the state of Nevada, the only grounds for annulment are fraud, bigamy or insanity. The only thing I could use was fraud. Otherwise, we would have had to get a divorce, and that was not acceptable to me.

KING: Why?

CONGER: As a divorced woman, it would have meant the marriage legally occurred. It would have taken at least six more months to go through with. Financially, it was burden. The annulment itself was not cheap. It was not option for me.

KING: Do you accept the explanation?

CONGER: That was the only option I could use.

ROCKWELL: At that point, what...

CONGER: I didn't like to use it couldn't use bad idea, I was dummy for the reason to get an annulment. They don't accept that. I would have if I could have, believe me.

KING: Accept it, Rick?

ROCKWELL: You said that I was a fraud. Now, you're stating that you were a fraud. You were there for a different reason than I was.

CONGER: Absolutely, I was a fraud.

ROCKWELL: Why did you include me in your court document and say that I was a fraud when it was your choice? So, the point is people lie in court documents every day. And that's why I'm -- that is why I have been.

ROCKWELL: So you're denying that you have the restraining order? You're denying that the reason I used was a valid reason?

ROCKWELL: I'm saying that that had no bearing on why you didn't want to be married. You just said it.

CONGER: The only reason I didn't want to be married is because I never meant to go on the show to marry anyone. They don't accept that as a reason. I can't use that.

ROCKWELL: I'm not putting words in your mouth, Darva, I'm just...

CONGER: I can't use that. I can't say fraud. I didn't do anything fraudulent.

ROCKWELL: Wait a second, you went on MSNBC and said I was there for fraudulent reasons. You said those exact words.

CONGER: OK, well, since you can quote me verbatim, how about this: The court would not accept that and all I cared about was what the court would accept.

ROCKWELL: And I'm saying, if all you care about is what the court will accept, and you put...

CONGER: That's all I cared about.

ROCKWELL: Then don't put words in my mouth when you try...


KING: Don't some people have to say certain things in divorce suits or annulment suits that don't really happen just to get it happen because of some of the inadequacies of the law?

CONGER: Larry, I'd like to interject here that it really did happen. He really did have restraining orders. I don't care, personally. It's not an issue in he and I's life because we don't have one. But it was reason for me to get an annulment and it worked.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll come right back with Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger, and we'll discuss more of this incredible, really incredible story in American tabloid television history. They -- you were really the first of the what we call reality TV.

CONGER: Lucky us.

KING: You began it. Lucky you, too. You're still mad, Rick. You're still mad. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


ROCKWELL: Darva Conger, will you marry me?






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With this ring I thee wed and pledge you my love and devotion.

CONGER: With this ring I thee wed and pledge you my love and devotion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now by the authority vested in me as district court judge in the state of Nevada, I pronounce you husband and wife.


KING: That kiss, what was it like for you?

CONGER: I don't remember. I've sort of blocked the whole thing out. I've seen it over and over again, obviously, in replays like this but I don't remember any of it.

KING: Do you remember what you were thinking?

CONGER: Just shock, terror, fear. Oh, my gosh, what have I done? How I do get out of this and kind of like...

KING: You were thinking that all the time?

CONGER: All the time and also I was thinking, well, here's this guy and I wanted to know about you. I you wanted to know who you were and find out about you. I wasn't -- it wasn't a matter...

KING: He wasn't distasteful looking to you.

CONGER: I don't think that's even an issue. It shouldn't have mattered.

KING: He wasn't a turn-off.

CONGER: No, no, it wasn't that at all. It could have been George Clooney or anybody. It was the wrong thing to do.

KING: What were you thinking, Rick?

ROCKWELL: I think I didn't look like George Clooney.

KING: What were you thinking as you, you know, you got the ring on your finger and you're kissing?

ROCKWELL: I was incredibly calm going into this. I had an eerie calm around me...

CONGER: Calm before the storm.

ROCKWELL: ... because I really -- I realized that getting amped up and getting agitated and excited about this was not going to help me make a better decision. And being calm didn't help make very good decision.

CONGER: I think we were both too calm for our good. I think we both battened down the hatches. I know I did, taking my emergency room experience and saying OK, I'm in a chaotic environment, chaotic situation. I don't know what to do. I'm just going to calm and focus and finish the job.

KING: What was the first night like? Awkward -- the first night was in hotel; right? It was before you went on the cruise.

CONGER: You know what, it's old news. It's over. I don't even want to talk about it. It's obvious that this was not a marriage that was meant to be.

KING: Awkward for you?

ROCKWELL: Not particularly; I mean, given the situation, I don't think so.



KING: Nothing happened. Were you bugged?

CONGER: He never made a point of any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'd like to point that out.

KING: He didn't.

CONGER: No, he didn't. I'm not trying to bash him or make any sort of inferences that don't exist. It wasn't a matter of me trying to fight him off or anything like that. It wasn't an issue.

KING: What was the cruise like, the honeymoon?

CONGER: That was awkward.

KING: I mean you are together...

CONGER: I was with the chaperone and he was, you know, doing his own thing, and I admit, I made a point of avoiding him because I, at that point in time, I had had enough interaction to know that we weren't comfortable.

KING: So the pictures we saw were just posed pictures for...


KING: ... for Fox?

CONGER: No, I think it was just some folks on the boat had a camera.

KING: Why was there a chaperone?

CONGER: I requested one. I wouldn't go unless there were one.

KING: Did that annoy you?

ROCKWELL: No, not particularly.

KING: What was it like for you, nine days with a bride you're not even seeing?

ROCKWELL: It was -- it was not the best honeymoon I could think -- you know, I'm walking around beach by myself with a metal detector, you know, looking for bottle caps and nickels. That was about the highlight of my...

KING: What did you do all day?

CONGER: I would go on shore excursions with the chaperone, with Cheryl and we'd hang out. I'd spend time in my cabin. I mean, I was kind of adjusting to it myself.

KING: Did you know there was trouble when you got back?

CONGER: Not to the extent that it was, no. We knew a lot of people had watched the show and I had so hoped, oh, gosh, only a few people will see, it could be OK. But shortly thereafter, we knew.

KING: Did you think there'd be trouble?

ROCKWELL: Not like this, no. No, I really didn't.

KING: We'll take a break and come back.

ROCKWELL: I don't think anybody expects this.

KING: Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell are the guests. We will be including your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.





ROCKWELL: So many nasty things have been said about me that if -- if Darva wanted to turn around today and say that she didn't want to be with me because I was cruel or mean or a bad person, she could have deflected all the criticism that she's taken. She never did that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was Rick Rockwell on our radio show, right?


KING: Really emotionally upset.

CONGER: I disagree. I couldn't have deflected anything. Any criticism he's received is based solely on his own actions.

KING: Nothing you could have done?

CONGER: Nothing I could have done. And my criticism that I've received is based solely on my actions. We need to take responsibility for what we did.

KING: You still...

ROCKWELL: I was praising you in that interview. You weren't listening correctly. I was thanking you.

CONGER: OK. That's not what I got from the sound bite.


CONGER: Maybe I'm having a blond moment, but that's not what I got.

KING: By the way, you're planning a book that's called "I Got Married on FOX TV: What Was I Thinking?" You're planning to have this published. You're going to tell the whole story from your side, right?


KING: Some of the questions -- you said you had another big question for her, which was? Because frankly, just observing it, you seem to me more bitter than she. You maybe have a right to be, because she went in under a pretense that didn't exist.

CONGER: I'd like to say, though -- and I know this for a fact -- that I'm not different from any, I'd say, 95 percent of the other girls. And I'm not trying to say, well, they didn't want to get married either, so it is OK. It was a dumb idea for all of us.

This was not going to be the arena where Rick was going to find the bride of his dreams, no matter what. Maybe he picked the absolutely worst possible choice out of all of us. But...

ROCKWELL: That's interesting, because I've talked to some of the other women, and that's not the reaction I get from them.

CONGER: They each tell us different things in different conversations, but I was with them for a week and I spoke to all of them. ROCKWELL: I've talked to numerous other women there...

KING: What are you still angry about?

ROCKWELL: I'm not angry.

KING: Well...

ROCKWELL: I just -- I had some questions. I had some...

KING: What's another one not answered? She doesn't have to answer them, by the way. It ain't a court. But what is it?

ROCKWELL: I -- I don't understand how somebody could go on a show like that, and there's nothing ambiguous about the title of it. There's -- there's no...

CONGER: I explained that already. You didn't -- you didn't get the part where I said I really thought it was a setup. I'm not kidding, I'm not lying. Look at my past. I've never done anything like this before. I'll never do it again. I so thought in my innate knowledge of Hollywood that this was set up.

And it was a dumb thing to do. I'm the first to say that. But Rick, I didn't go on to marry you or anybody else. That's why it's really not about you and I.

ROCKWELL: Well, let me give you an example of why I think that that's a bit of a stretch for me.

CONGER: That is...

ROCKWELL: At the final moment when you delivered that beautiful soliloquy that we saw earlier and you spoke so eloquently about how you wanted me to marry you...


CONGER: ... I was speaking to someone else in my heart and my mind, though.

ROCKWELL: I spoke to...

KING: Let him finish, Darva.

CONGER: I apologize.

ROCKWELL: I spoke to some of the other women there, and they said -- I mean, you're saying that you were confused, you were dazed, you were playing a role, you had no presence of mind, you didn't know what was going on. You had the presence of mind at that point to lift someone else's final soliloquy that they had uttered at rehearsal. Laurel Heskey (ph) had delivered some of those lines at rehearsal.

CONGER: Rick, complete and utterly untrue. I said those from my heart to someone else that was in my heart. If someone tells you that, I'm sorry. All I can say it's not true. And I -- believe me -- regret saying that.

KING: Someone told you that it was lifted?

ROCKWELL: I have it corroborated by three different women who were there.

KING: She stole the lines?

CONGER: I stole the lines...

ROCKWELL: They all sat downstairs and looked at the monitor and said, Laurel, she's doing your speech!

CONGER: Funny I've not heard that from any of the other 60 contestants.

KING: Well, it's simple. You're saying, no, that's not true.

CONGER: It's not true. I refute that utterly, irrevocably.


CONGER: I am a chatty -- I'm a pretty eloquent person in my own right. Those were my words, and I regret them greatly, but I do claim them.

KING: Do either of you feel like blaming the TV network?

CONGER: I don't. They didn't make me do it.

KING: Do you?

ROCKWELL: No, I don't -- I don't blame the network. I think...


ROCKWELL: I think if you expect loyalty from a television network after it goes south, you're -- you're sadly mistaken. But no.

And I'm not -- and you know, earlier when you mentioned that you thought that I was still bitter or still angry about this, I'm not. I really don't -- I mean, like Darva said, you've got to move on. I mean, I -- I didn't get to where I am in life by sitting around lamenting my fate.

KING: You were certainly mad at the press and the way they tracked you down and coming up with things and reporting about how much money you were really worth, all the background, past?

CONGER: I think it takes -- it's hard to get used to initially, and after a while, you're like uh, whatever, it's no big deal.

KING: I don't think he ever got got "whatever."

CONGER: I got used to it. I'm at "whatever."

Can I just say something really quick, because you brought up a great point about when I sued him for annulment. I couldn't sue him for annulment and charge myself with fraud. I want to make that clear. If I could have, I would have. I wasn't out there to paint him to be a bad guy.

KING: Because...


CONGER: Yes. If I could have done it, I would have.

KING: Rick?


KING: The -- you say you don't have bitterness.

ROCKWELL: No, I don't.

KING: And you're getting on with your life. But you're mad at the press. You think the media did...

ROCKWELL: Well, no, I think "mad at the press" is -- what I'm trying to do with this writing is very cathartic, because the situation that we were thrust into -- and I can include Darva in this, because we both became the news. I have numerous examples...

CONGER: It was a slow news year.

ROCKWELL: Give you an example: Bill Carter from "The New York Times." This is supposed to be a credible publication. He went around and asked people that were on my corporate client list in my resume if I had ever worked for them. So he calls up a company and says to one person in H&R, did this guy ever work for you? They've been in business -- I've been a comedian for 20 years. How are they going to know everybody that ever worked for them? They said no, he's not on the payroll. So Bill Carter says he padded his resume, and he writes it in there.

So I called the company and I say, what are you doing telling this guy I didn't work for you? I got a 1099 from 1997.

And as soon as it became I busted them on it, "Oh, you'll have to talk to our legal department." But when it's "I'm going to get quoted in 1The New York Times,'" it's, well, yeah, you know...

KING: Did you send it to Bill Carter, the 1099?

ROCKWELL: I haven't yet.

KING: Why not?

ROCKWELL: I'll probably have a libel attorney do it.

KING: You're going to sue them?

CONGER: Larry, we can go through a litany of complaints against the media. Oh, they did -- they went through my trash. They got my phone bills.

KING: They went through your garbage?

CONGER: Now I put my pug's poop in there, so that stops it. But you know, they did a lot of mean, nasty things.

It's over. Whatever the press writes about me doesn't define who I am.

KING: And you have a Web site now.


KING: And you're into health and everything, and you have...

CONGER: It's using my nursing background.

KING: It ain't over for you. The book is cathartic, but it ain't over for you, Rick. I mean, we'd be an idiot to think it's over for you. It's not over for you. There's still a lot of pain in you. There's more pain in you than in you.

CONGER: I'm just comfortable with who I am and what I've done. I know the truth, and the people that matter in my life know the truth. And I can live without the adulation and the approval of everyone else, although I'm human and sometimes it hurts. It's just not important.

KING: You're anger is warranted, though, isn't it?

ROCKWELL: I don't -- I don't -- I don't think I'm angry. I think that I really -- you know, the illustration I just gave you. There are 50 stories in this book just like that about all the weird stuff that people would do, the lengths they will go to...

CONGER: I can probably match them. I guess I just don't...

KING: You don't want to write a book?

CONGER: I don't think -- I don't think -- I'm not saying I haven't. Maybe I will if I find something really good to say. But I just don't -- I'm not a victim. I wasn't victimized. Nobody beat me up.

KING: You are a victim?

CONGER: Nobody beat me up.

ROCKWELL: No, I'm not a victim. I just think it's -- I think it's really interesting the way this stuff gets twisted around and the way they present it. CONGER: It's high school. It's a rumor through high school. You say one thing. By the end -- by the time, it's gone through 10 people it's completely changed. It's just high school in the macrocosm.

KING: We'll get a break and we'll include some phone calls. We'll be right back with -- with Rick and Darva. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


ROCKWELL: I don't know what's going to happen about that, but I'll tell you what. She's a great person, and I like her a lot.






KING: Did you get into bed together? Was it discussed? Did she say no? What?

ROCKWELL: Well, I don't think a true romantic really goes over any kind of bedroom detail.

KING: What, you get married on television, you pick a bride on television. Now you don't want to give me -- in other words, did you come -- did you get close? Did you discuss it?

ROCKWELL: We had -- we discussed a lot of things that night.

KING: All right. OK. But nothing -- the marriage was not consummated.

ROCKWELL: That is correct.


KING: We're back with Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger, first time together in a year. And let's go to some calls.

Albuquerque, New Mexico.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: I would like to know why Darva, it appears to me, is very hostile towards Rick still?

CONGER: I'm hostile towards Rick? I'm sorry if it appears that way. That was not my intention.

KING: Because you do not feel hostile?

CONGER: I don't feel hostility toward him whatsoever.

KING: New Port Richey, Florida.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I'd like to know from Darva and Rick what kind of toll did this take on their immediate families?

KING: Good question -- Rick.

ROCKWELL: My family is pretty tough. It was not the easiest thing they've ever done.

KING: Who's alive? Who's in the family?

ROCKWELL: My parents are both alive, and I have got five brothers and a sister.

KING: They all handled it well?

ROCKWELL: They all handled it very well. I thought they did great, and my friends, everybody was really supportive.

KING: Darva?

CONGER: Same here. My father passed away before all this, but my mom lives with me. She was incredibly supportive. My friends drew closer and tighter around me. I was actually put back in touch with my two long-lost half-brothers because of all this. So, it was all good.

KING: And a brother died.

CONGER: My brother Danny passed away, yes.

KING: Your mother was a terrific actress.

CONGER: She still is.

KING: What's her name?

CONGER: Susan Harrison.

KING: She was in "Sweet Smell of Success," right?

CONGER: Yes, she was.

KING: And what was her last movie?

CONGER: "Key Witness" with Dennis Hopper in 1963.

KING: Is she going to come back?

CONGER: You know, I would love it if she would. She is one of the talented actresses of our generation.

KING: Terrific. Montreal, Canada. Hello.

CALLER: Darva, I just wanted to know, you say that you've moved on and you're over this ordeal, but then it sort of seems like you're looking for the celebrity and limelight that goes with this. So, my question really is are you really over it? I mean, you're not a nurse anymore so I'm just wondering...

CONGER: Well, actually, I am a nurse.


CONGER: I'm a registered nurse. I'm a nurse entrepreneur now. I still can't work in the emergency room environment.

KING: Why?

CONGER: Because I'm recognized. I'm disruptive in that environment. I tried. I went back. But you know what, yes, I've moved on and what I do now is use this fame or notoriety or whatever it is to run a project that I'm proud of. is important to me and I'm happy to publicize it.

KING: In retrospect, then, you're glad this happened?

CONGER: Glad is too strong of a word, but I don't have any regrets.

KING: What are you doing now? How are you earning a living?

ROCKWELL: I'm still writing, speaking and performing. Doing things I've always done, and this book has taken a tremendous amount of my time.

KING: But there's no income coming in until you sell it.

ROCKWELL: Well, I have passive investments and some things like that going and I've got my second interview with Hot Dog on a Stick tomorrow and...

KING: What's that?

ROCKWELL: I'm going to do the millionaire shift from 3:00 to 7:00.

CONGER: That's comedy.

KING: Oh, I'm lost.

Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Darva, hi. Hi, Rick, my sympathies are with you, and I would like to say to Darva, a well-educated person, are you wanting the people to believe that you're a victim here...



CALLER: ... that you're...

CONGER: I've said over and over again that I'm not victim, that I made mistake and I am standing by and taking responsibility for the fall-out from my mistake. Apparently you haven't been listening to the interview.


CONGER: Pardon me?

KING: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the end.

Grand Fork, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Darva, I was just wondering, like you've been saying you're taking responsibility for your actions, but it doesn't really seem that you are accepting responsibility because you're not concerned about who you hurt, like the consequences to Rick and all the people involved in your life, your families on both parts.

KING: She began by apologizing to Rick to begin the program.

CALLER: Yes, she did, but...

CONGER: I haven't hurt my family. My family is behind me 100 percent. They don't have enmity or blame towards me. For anything that I have done that has hurt Rick, I am sorry. I think we both need to take responsibility, however, for putting ourselves in that situation. It was not a good idea under any circumstances for him or for me.

KING: Wasn't it a stretch to call yourself the Richard Jewell of 2000? Comparing yourself to the guy falsely accused of bombing the Atlanta World's Fair, the Atlanta Olympics?

ROCKWELL: That's not the analysis I made. What I said was that I am guilty of rushing to judgment on Richard Jewell because of what I saw on TV. See, I was a news junkie. I watched television all the time to get fodder for my act and it's -- now I can't look at anything the same way after what happened...

KING: You don't believe what you see. You neither.


CONGER: I don't either. Not at all.

ROCKWELL: It's really -- I mean, I never read newspaper the same. I'll never look at something on the Internet the same. I will never listen to the radio same never.

CONGER: We are for once in a full and complete agreement.

KING: You don't -- you don't believe it or you -- you're certainly wary.

CONGER: The full truth is never out there and I think the most negative thing is always broadcasted.


ROCKWELL: I can see the nuance now...

CONGER: I just take the most negative kernel out.

ROCKWELL: Now I can see the nuance. I see when they change one word that's not going to be liable but they change it to try and skew the attitude.

CONGER: This is -- I learned this quote and I think it's wonderful. Freedom of the press only exists for those who have one. That's why I created the Web site. It's my own little press to get the truth out there.

KING: We'll right back with Darva and Rick. Don't go away.





CONGER: I'm saying that whomever was picked, I think the outcome would have been the same, just a different person. I don't think...

KING: Whoever it was would have been thrown into a situation that would have been untenable.

CONGER: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: You mean none of them would have stayed married to Rick Rockwell?

CONGER: I don't believe they would have. That is purely my opinion, mind you, but based on comments, based on talking to the other girls, just being there, I don't think that any one of them would have been happy in that situation.


KING: Take another call. Waterloo, Iowa. Hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, Rick and Darva. I just wanted to say that Darva, I don't think you're hostile at all. I think Rick is acting just a little bit more hostile and I was also wondering do either -- are you interested in getting remarried to someone else?

CONGER: Not each other; right?

KING: Love life now -- Rick.

ROCKWELL: I am with a wonderful woman who has my best interests at heart, and I certainly do hers, and it is...

CONGER: See, it all turned out for the best. You found the right woman.

KING: You didn't meet her in a television store?

ROCKWELL: No, I did not.

KING: Or television studio. And you're back with the boyfriend...

CONGER: And I'm back with the boyfriend, yes.

KING: ... you were thinking about that night.

CONGER: The whole time. I called him immediately after we got to Barbados and I told him what I had done, and we're back. We're together. He's a wonderful, supportive, great guy and has had to put up with a lot.

KING: What do you make of this 15 minutes, as they call it?


KING: You may be classic examples, although it's stretched.

CONGER: People are like, you've got your 15 minutes. Like it's such a wonderful thing, and it can turn into it if you make it that, but I think it is just a really, weird surreal..

KING: Yeah. Do you feel like a victim of 15 minutes? A profit of -- how do you feel? You two are going to be linked forever.

ROCKWELL: I think there's been a misconception that I have cashed in on this somehow. One of the things that has been really great about it is that I have raised over $100,000 for charity in the last year, because of people knowing who I am more, so that part of it -- that part has been really neat.

KING: In a sense, are you glad this happened?

ROCKWELL: No. I'm not glad it happened.

KING: You had to do it all over; you don't go on the show.

ROCKWELL: Correct.

CONGER: I would have said -- because exactly a month ago, but since then I have been reunited with my brothers and the only way they found me was because of and it's my brothers; it is my family. It is worth to it me.

KING: Fitchurg, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hello, this question is for Darva and Rick -- I was wondering, if you ever had children, how would you explain this to them? And what advice would you give them?

CONGER: I would explain it to them, when they were old enough of course, with complete honesty and -- using the fact that, you know, mom made a mistake, she did something that was not her best interests -- she did something that was wrong and she learned from it. And, you can learn from my mistakes and it doesn't mean that just because you have done something that is a mistaken and your worst fears come true, you're made fun of by the whole world and you can overcome it. Nothing is insurmountable and give them confidence.

ROCKWELL: I know that I made a huge mistake. I would say one of the biggest things I learned is that, you can't possibly know about somebody in two hours, on a television show -- you don't know anything about somebody's sincerity or what they are thinking. And, I was naive to think that and I was wrong, and I think, you know, in that way, it's probably a good example for other people.

KING: What do you make of all this reality television boom?

CONGER: Not reality. This is reality. The news is reality; it's contrived; it's staged, that is not reality.

ROCKWELL: You know, honestly, myself -- I do not have a problem with reality programming, because I think everyone is empowered to say, turn off the television set.

CONGER: Exactly, you know what it is? A microwave dinner -- a TV dinner. It's TV light and the only power it has is what we give it, and if we say it's credible, then it is.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell. According to Darva, its the only appearance you are going to make together; right?

CONGER: First, last, and only.

KING: First, last, and only. We'll be right back; don't go away.




KING: Couple quick things before we leave you. Your Web site address is?


KING: Health.

CONGER: House -- Darva's house.

KING: Darvashouse, because it comes from your house?

CONGER: Yes, it comes from my house and it has rooms in the house and there is a ton of stuff there.

KING: And your book, when it is published, will be, "What Was I Thinking? I Got Married on FOX TV and Didn't Even Get a Lousy T- Shirt."

ROCKWELL: That is correct.

KING: You got no prizes; right?

ROCKWELL: That is -- I got a big screen TV.

KING: And you kept it.

ROCKWELL: So I can watch myself!

KING: Did you read -- did you look at Darva's "Playboy"?

ROCKWELL: Yes. Someone gave me that "Playboy."

KING: What did you think of it?

ROCKWELL: I thought it was fine; I don't have any problem...

CONGER: I think that's completely ancillary to the whole deal. That was my dish.

KING: I know, but were you impressed -- what did you think?

ROCKWELL: Well, you know, the joke I used to do, I think it is great because it's important to see your wife naked at some point. I -- I didn't really -- it kind of was like looking at something really foreign, just really didn't have much meaning to me.

CONGER: We don't really know each other, so it's probably for him the same way as, looking at somebody he's met in this magazine.

KING: It really is weird, isn't it Darva?


KING: You don't know each other?

CONGER: No, we don't know each other. And that's where we need -- and I need to take responsibility; and I believe that he does, too.

KING: You think anyone would do a show like that again?

CONGER: I sincerely hope not. I really hope not. But once again, like I said, I think these shows only have the credibility we give them. If somebody...

KING: They got a show now, trying to have couples break up.

CONGER: Put them together, break them up. Next you know, they're going to have -- I don't know, polygamy. Who knows?

ROCKWELL: One of my favorite lines: How can you say you don't want to be with me; you don't even know me? You're just married to me.

KING: Do you think the show would -- do again -- any one would ever venture into, let's try a marriage on television again?

ROCKWELL: Actually, they did it in Germany, and they're suing the participants in that show because, apparently, they knew each other.

CONGER: They just don't get this down right; it doesn't work.

ROCKWELL: They knew each other.

KING: In retrospect, why do they even think it would work?

CONGER: They didn't really care whether it worked or not. They were there to get an audience. It was clearly exploitational TV.

ROCKWELL: I disagree. I think the producers from FOX -- the reason that I did it was because they -- we talked at length about this thing, and they were sincere about the fact...

KING: You mean they were totally sincere?

ROCKWELL: I don't think that it -- the fact that two people were going to get married on television does not make it mutually exclusive that something neat couldn't come of it.

CONGER: I disagree because all they cared was the perception that we were together when we come back.

KING: We are out of time. Thank you Rick.

ROCKWELL: Thank you Larry.

KING: Thank you Darva.

CONGER: I appreciate it.


KING: We hope you've enjoyed this look back at our interview with Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger. Thanks for joining us on LARRY KING WEEKEND; good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top