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Teri Garr Discusses Her MS for the First Time

Aired October 8, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive: For almost 20 years Teri Garr suffered in secret and kept herself in denial. And that all changes right here, right now.
For the first time Teri Garr goes public about the fight of her life and why she felt compelled to hide it before.

A revealing, emotional hour with my lady Teri Garr next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always great to have her with us. It's been a long time since she's been with us. The last time she was here it was only 1988, 14 years.

Teri Garr returns to LARRY KING LIVE. The Academy Award- nominated actress who has been keeping this secret for nearly two decades.

And the secret is that you have MS?

TERI GARR, ACTRESS: Is that a secret?

KING: Why had you not told people? Why had you not gone public?

GARR: Well, first of all, I didn't know I had it for that many years. I mean, I went to many -- like 11 doctors, and no one really -- you know, it's a very hard diagnosis.

And then it would go away and I'd be fine. So I'd say, oh, hell with it, I'm going to go on with my life. I mean, I do go on with my life.

I think now the good news is that there's a lot of good medicines out there and options for people. So if I can just help people to feel better...

KING: When you finally knew you had it, why didn't you come forward immediately, as others have done?

GARR: You know, I don't think I finally had a definitive day when, this is it. It was just always so vague and vague. I mean, I don't know.

Then, plus I don't know if -- I didn't feel it was necessary to tell anybody.

I mean, I'm going on with my life. I raise my daughter, I work, I doben (ph). That's a Jamel Brooks (ph) joke, thank you very much.

But I really didn't think there was any reason to come out and say anything about it except that know that I know what it's like to be proactive and take medicine and go to the doctor and try to figure this out, I feel better emotionally, you know?

KING: All right, let's go back. What kind of symptoms did you have?

GARR: Well, starting many years ago, I would run, jog in the park, and I just started tripping. It was just like my toe. I would start to trip, and then that would go away. Then I would get some tingling in my arm.

And I went to one doctor who said, oh, this is an orthopedic problem. Can we operate on Thursday? And I said, no, we can't operate -- wait a second. I called my brother in L.A. who is a doctor and he said, you know, get another opinion.

So I went to a neurologist. And he said, yes, it's a pinched nerve.

I mean, this was a couple years ago. It's only been recently that they've had any kind of...

KING: They were misdiagnosing it?

GARR: Misdiagnosing it and not having any way of diagnosing it, so...

KING: Did you also -- frankly, Teri, were you in denial about it?

GARR: Well, yes, denial; of course, nobody wants that kind of news.

But I also -- yes, I guess I know that there are many different kinds of MS. I mean, I've heard as many as 22.

KING: Did someone say to one day, Ms. Garr, you have multiple sclerosis?

GARR: Not...

KING: Really?

GARR: Wait a minute. No, not "Ms. Garr." They said: Hey you; hey you with that weird hair.

No. Yes, I mean, I think...

KING: I mean, was it kind of a -- were you frightened? Were you scared?

GARR: Oh, yes. I mean, I think everybody is scared and frightened when they hear something like that. And that's because there's so much -- you know, there's not a lot of information out there about it. And a lot of people don't know that it's not that bad. I mean, I'm going on with my life.

KING: Yes, but I noticed you limp. That's a recurrence from this, right? Is that new?

GARR: No, that's been -- I guess I've had that for about 10 years.

But that's about it for me. And then I developed a dropped foot, so they put a little brace on my leg. And now I walk around with a brace on my leg and think, well, that's a small price to pay, so I'll have that.

KING: Are there some days weird, some days not?

GARR: Yes.

KING: There's no strict pattern to MS, is there?

GARR: No. Everybody's different. I mean, they define the disease by your symptoms, I think.

But, you know, I come from a showbusiness family. And my whole life I feel like I've been in denial about, you know -- like, the very first thing I ever did was "West Side Story" when I was a dancer. And I went and auditioned and I was dinged out of it.

So the next couple of days my girlfriend said, they're having a callback on Saturday. I said, oh good, I'm going.

No, you can't go because they passed on you.

Yes, but know I know what they want and I'm going to go back there.

And I went back there and I got the job, and I was in "West Side Story." It was my first job.

My point is, you should just keep -- I was in denial about -- that they dinged me. So I'm in denial about, OK, you're in really bad shape because MS is really bad.

And I think, it's just so stupid to think that way. I just don't think that way.

KING: Yes, but one of the side effects of it...

GARR: Is insanity!

KING: Is depression.

GARR: Is it?

KING: Sure.

GARR: I don't have that.

KING: You haven't had that?

GARR: No, thank God. No, no. I get depressed about other things, but...

KING: The biggest fear is eventual, what, wheelchair? Is that the...

GARR: I don't know if that would be so bad.

KING: Really?

GARR: I get tired.

I mean, I really don't think negatively about any of this stuff. I just don't.

KING: So then why -- I'm surprised, then, you didn't come out sooner, in a sense. You've got this wonderful proactive attitude.

GARR: Well now I do because I'm taking some, you know, medicine for it. But...

KING: I'll get to that.

But when you didn't have the it; when you didn't have this proactive attitude, what was it like for you?

GARR: Well, it was bad. And I had -- there's a lot of rumors and gossip about me in Hollywood. Everybody -- I figure if I go on the Larry King's show, I might as well for the four people that haven't heard I have MS.

KING: Was there gossip about other things, you mean, not MS?

GARR: No, about MS.

And a few people said I was a bad actress, and that really pissed me off.

KING: Were you able to get jobs through all of this?

GARR: Oh, yes, I worked the whole time. But then I think later it got -- it thinned out. But then I thought: What's worse in Hollywood, being handicapped or being a woman over 50? You know, it sort of thins out anyway.

But I used to say that the William Morris Agency put me in the actress protection program. It's really working very well.

KING: But there also is -- multiple sclerosis patients...

GARR: You can't even say it, can you?

GARR: ... tend to bind together. There are organizations to fight it; the Fight to Erase MS, right? I've never seen you at a dinner. I go to their dinners ever year.

GARR: I'm there.

KING: Yes?

GARR: Yes.

KING: But you don't get up on stage.


KING: And you don't say, I'm a fighter with it, and I have it too.

GARR: Well, no.

KING: No, you don't.

GARR: So what am I supposed to, fight it now?

KING: Now you are.

GARR: But I don't know what that -- they get other people to do that are, I don't know, more credible than me. Maybe. I don't know. I've never been asked to do it.

KING: Would you say that this is a positive attitude you have? It appears to me you have a very positive attitude about this.

GARR: Thanks, Lar. I think I do. And I think -- I have to. I mean, you have to have a positive attitude about everything. Don't you think?

KING: It's hard.

GARR: It's very hard when there's all these horrible, horrible things going on in the world that are much worse.

You know, if we invade Iraq or if we -- you know, all this -- shooter going around. There's bad stuff out there, so this is a small thing.

KING: What has been the impact on your professional life? I mean, certain jobs you're not going to get, right? If you're limping, you can't get a job running in a movie.

GARR: Yes, but I'm telling you, a woman my age is not going to get cast in "Spider-Woman," as much as I could do it.

But, you know, one time I auditioned for something and the woman had to run up and down stairs and I tried to talk them out of it: She doesn't have to do that, it's not really important for the character.

It was like years ago when I'd get scripts and there'd be nude scenes. And I'd think, you know, it's really not important that there's a nude scene. I'd try to talk them out of it. So that's been my story my whole life.

KING: So you bring this with you?

GARR: Perhaps I do.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Teri Garr. We'll find out about medications she's taking, impact on her life and other aspects of MS.

She's finally revealed it: The rumors were true, right?

GARR: Damn it.

KING: Damn it.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Teri Garr, tonight revealing for the first time on television worldwide that she has multiple sclerosis.

Does this mean now we will intend to see a lot of you in this battle, that you will appear in places and where there is a public manifestation of it, you'll come forward?

GARR: Sure. Certainly. I mean, maybe they'll ask me now.

KING: No, I mean, are you now ready to talk about it?

GARR: Yes.

KING: This is not just a one-shot. You intend to be involved?

GARR: Yes.

KING: Think we'll ever have a cure?

GARR: Yes, I hope so. I don't know. You know, that's the thing I was thinking, they haven't even figured out what causes this. And then I was talking to this neurologist and he said, It really doesn't matter because now they can treat it.

I mean, they know what causes multiple -- what is it called -- muscular dystrophy. But they have nothing to treat it, but they know it is a gene carried from this woman and it's a sexual thing. But they don't know what causes MS, but they do know how to treat it or at least to stop it.

KING: And there are many forms of it, right? I mean, Lou Gehrig's disease is a terrible form.

GARR: Well, it's a neurological disease.

KING: Anyone in your family have it? GARR: Not to my knowledge. No, I don't think so.

KING: Now, what is the drug you're taking? And you're a paid spokesperson for the drug, right? I mean, they pay you to -- Is it a drug -- What is it you do?

GARR: You know it's -- I guess they call it a drug. But it's interferon. It's something that your body manufactures. So in a way, it's like a holistic drug. But it's -- you inject it three times a week.

KING: What's it called?

GARR: Rebif.

KING: Rebif. You inject it in your stomach?

GARR: Stomach or leg or butt.

KING: And what does it do?

GARR: It slows the progression, supposedly. I'm not sure.

KING: How long have you been taking it?

GARR: Since June.

KING: And?

GARR: You know, this is part of my quirky personality. I'm a little bit negative about everything. So, people say...

KING: But if you're a paid spokesman, it might not be wise to be negative about it. But what the hell, you're Teri Garr.

GARR: What the hell, I can get away with it.

No, I think -- I guess this isn't helping. But it is helping. And I feel better. People say, I'm walking better. So you know, I feel better.

KING: Attitude better, too?

GARR: Yes, but you know, attitude is so much about what's in your mind, isn't it? I mean, I went to a guy -- a doctor, and he did the MRIs. And he said, well, you have no plaquing in your brain.

I said, Oh, great.

He said, No, no, this is really good news.

I said, It is?

He said, Well, yes. Your brain is fine. So now I have no excuse for being an idiot. Anyway, it made me feel so good. And a couple of days later they asked me to do that show "The Weakest Link." So I did "The Weakest Link." I won everything. I won $167,000. Gave to it the firemen in New York. Thank you very much, boys.

And -- I mean, but it was all because the guy told me that my brain was OK.

KING: What effect does MS have on your love life?

GARR: Well, the doctor asked me about sexual functions. And I said, You know, I haven't been invited to any lately. I used to be invited to a lot of them but...

KING: Did it have any problem, any problem -- any mean -- was it at all involved in your divorce?

GARR: No, no. That had to do with crankiness.

KING: Do you date?

GARR: Yes. Larry, are you propositioning me? I know you're married. But you could leave her for me.

KING: No, I'm asking you if you can lead as much as possible a normal life?

GARR: Yes!

KING: With this disease.

GARR: Oh, yes.

KING: Now, I've told you that I have a close friend who has it and he's annoyed with it. Angry at it. Depressed about it. You're none of those? None of the above?

GARR: Oh, yes, I'm very angry. I'm angry, I guess that depression takes a different form with me. I'll sit with the computer for 25 hours and play solitaire.

KING: Or make jokes.

GARR: Or make jokes, Larry. But I figure it's better than crying.

KING: But aren't there moments alone when you've cried?

GARR: Never.


GARR: Not about this.

KING: How about "why me?"

GARR: Yes, why me, but that lasts about 30 seconds. I really -- I don't see the point -- I mean, I'm always a very practical person and I just don't see the point of wallowing in it. It's just a waste of time. It's a waste of energy.

I once saw a joke in the "New Yorker" that had a guy walking up the street and there was a big sign up that says "Abandon Hope."

And then a couple of feet later there's another sign that says "Resume Hope."

That's what I do. I abandon hope -- go, Oh my god -- resume hope now.

KING: But when these symptoms started, you actually made "Young Frankenstein," right? "Oh God," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Tootsie."

So even though you had these symptoms beginning, you were able to work successfully?

GARR: Well, yes. I'm still able to work.

KING: So one might say, what's the big deal?

GARR: Right. What is the big deal? Well, then you ask me about why I didn't come out to say anything about it. I don't have much to complain about.

But I know that other people could be like me. Other people with MS could be not depressed and could be not, you know, as upset and sad and down. So...

KING: Do you think this move of coming out will hurt you professionally? Do you think some people will now say, don't call Teri, she's got MS?

GARR: Oh, I'm sure it will. I mean, I think everything does. The fact that I haven't had a face lift is -- that's the biggest thing, I think. But I'm sure it would. You know, being an actress in a competitive field, my sister-in-law over there --

KING: Your sister-in-law is an actress?

GARR: It's a very hard thing to do. You have to be completely driven and obsessed and all that stuff. And, you outgrow it. I mean after a while -- I've been very lucky in my career. I've done some wonderful movies.

And, I'd like to rest now. Although I'm available for parties and picnics.

But I mean, I don't -- If I didn't have MS, I would still go, all right, I understand. Everybody else is working. It's a fight to get those jobs that Meryl Streep gets or Shirley MacLaine or whoever, you know.

KING: What can't you do that -- what are you not able to do you miss doing?

GARR: You know, I used to be a dancer. So I sometimes have dreams about dancing.

KING: Yes.

GARR: That and -- I don't -- you know what's interesting because in a way it's like an odd gift.

Before I was running around and doing this and doing that and all kinds of busyness, you know, herky-jerky motions for nothing. And it makes you stop and settle down and focus. Like my mother always told me to. So I have to sit and read. And all of a sudden I'm reading and I'm like, This stuff is great. How come I never read this before? How come I never really thought about what Dickens was saying? How come I never thought about all this stuff?

Because I was too busy shopping or whatever the hell else it was. Having 8-by-10s taken of myself. It sort of makes you focus on something more practical.

KING: But dancing would be...

GARR: Yeah, I guess, dancing is one of the things. But then I do other things. I remember, you know, Juliet Prowse who I know. And she -- God bless her, she was wonderful. And the end of her -- she had cancer. And she was so happy taking care of her roses. And just so happy doing it.

And I thought, well, things can fill you up that you never thought of before. I'm not saying that's right for everybody. But I'm just trying to keep it on the up.

KING: How does your family dealt with it?

GARR: Well, let's see, my family...

KING: Let's go over who is in the family. There's your daughter. She's adopted, right?

GARR: Yes.

KING: Molly, how does she deal with this?

GARR: She's a little -- she's only 8. She doesn't -- a little too young to understand it. And , you know, I try not to dwell on it a lot. Because when I was a kid and my father was an actor, he died when I was 11. And he was sick from the whole time I was around, you know, since I was a kid. And all I ever heard was "Daddy's sick, daddy's in the hospital."

And it was so bad, I just thought, I don't want to do this to Molly. So I don't. I don't tell her that -- she knows that...

KING: Does she ask why you're limping?

GARR: Yes. Or no, she doesn't ask why I'm limping. She says, Oh was that -- Did you do that before your leg hurt you or something like that? But you know what's the good thing about it -- and I always try to look for the good thing about it. She might want to be, like, a scientist or some kind of -- she wants to invent something to fix me.

KING: To help mommy.

GARR: Yes, that's cute, huh?

KING: Because we want our viewers to have the facts when watching nay interview, a note of disclosure. Teri Garr is being treated for her multiple sclerosis with a drug which was approved by the FDA in March. It's manufactured by Serono of Switzerland which has a co-promotional deal with Pfizer for marketing it in the U.S.

Serona and Pfizer fund a program called MS Lifelines. Teri Garr is a paid ambassador for that program. She's sharing her personal experiences with multiple sclerosis tonight.

When it comes to expert advice about dealing with the disease, please consult own doctor. We will be taking calls for Teri Garr tonight as well.

Colin Powell will be with us tomorrow night. There's a quiniela, Teri Garr, Colin Powell, everyday life.

Thursday night, Madonna. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


GARR: Thank you, thank you. Good spirit, you know.



KING: What a distinguished career she's had. Teri Garr, an academy award nomination. Appeared in some of the movies that have been the best rated comedies, especially, of all time. In fact, she appeared in a comedy once that was my favorite called "Let it Roll" with Richard Dreyfus. "Let it Ride" about a guy at a horse track and you were his beleaguered wife -- alcoholic, screaming at him. Was it fun making that movie?

GARR: Yes, it was fun. We shot it at that place in -- what's the famous place in Miami?

KING: Hialeah.

GARR: Of course you know that. Hialeah.

And I called my mother on the phone. I said, We're shooting at Hialeah. And she said, Is there a statue there for your father?

KING: Did you -- does faith play any part in fighting MS? are you a religious person?

GARR: I'm not a religious person, no. But I have faith. And I have spirit.

KING: You believe there's a God?

GARR: She's up there somewhere, Larry.

KING: Watching over you or not?

GARR: You know, God is in all -- I believe in God, yes. And I believe God is in us.

KING: But you're not in any organized...

GARR: No more of this religious fanaticism.

KING: Now how about when you watch others approach what they have. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve. What do you think?

GARR: I think they're great. I mean, they really inspire me. And I just think they're wonderful. They're fighters, they won't give up. And they do it in a really nice way.

KING: The most amazing thing to me is you don't have moments -- I'm going to go to calls in a moment -- where you get real down? Moments when you're injecting yourself for the third time in one day and there's the limp again and you see a dancer and you want to dance. You can still go to the pro -- to the up side?

GARR: Yes. I don't think I go, oh, yes, well that's because of that. I just make...

KING: And go on.

GARR: Do you think that it's that I'm too dumb to be scared? I wonder.

KING: That might be the answer.

GARR: That might be the answer. Everyone, lobotomies all around.

KING: Boston -- hello.

CALLER: Hi. I admire your courage, Teri. Two questions for you, one of them is what would you give -- we've had a recent diagnosis in our family of MS and I'm curious what advice or words of encouragement you would give to a woman who was recently diagnosed. And also how far do you go between episodes and does heat -- temperature heat bother you?

GARR: Yes, heat bothers me. Episodes, I don't even know what that means.

KING: Well where you have...

GARR: Relapsing? I don't have any of that. But I go -- and I get fatigue. The thing that bugs me the most is I get so tired. An I would like to...

KING: That's what my friends told me. 2:00 in the afternoon, I'm going to go to bed.

GARR: I'm going to go to sleep right now, Larry. OK, I'm better.

I think -- you know what your friend should do -- and this is what I did. I don't know how else to do it, but you can just go to as many neurologists as you can and you find out the one you trust. And then try to find out what the options are and what the different kinds of medicines that are out there today. Which all are al of them pretty good.

KING: Be proactive.

GARR: Yes. And of course there's always exercise.

KING: Can you exercise?

GARR: Oh, yes. I can do -- yes.

KING: You can't do a treadmill, can you?

GARR: Yes.

KING: You can?

GARR: I can do the treadmill and the bike. I do this thing called Pilates, which I love.

KING: Pilate?

GARR: Do you know what Pilates is? Its a thing that a dancer invented. And it's like doing pile and stuff. But you lay on your back and you push these things with weights and pullies. They have these Pilates gyms all over the -- I'm surprised you haven't heard about this.

KING: Pennsberg, Pennsylvania -- hello.

CALLER: Hey, Larry. Hey Teri. I loved it whenever you were on the Letterman Show. It seemed like the two of you had such unbelievable chemistry together.

KING: In fact he did a whole week once of reruns with -- you were on every show.

GARR: Did he?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Oh and I -- I thought as long as you're revealing secrets tonight, can you tell us anything about your relationship with him? GARR: Yes, we had a mad sexual affair. Is that okay? No, I didn't ever have that with him. But I think that's what everyone wants me to say.

And I used to say, no, no, no. And then one time I was walking through an airport and a guy said to me, I asked David Letterman if he had an affair with you and he said yes. I said, He did? OK, yes. I'm only kidding.

KING: Are you -- do you intend to go back on and talk about this?

GARR: On Letterman? Well, I mean it's a comedy show. I don't know if he -- sure. But you know, why not?

KING: With your attitude, it would work.

GARR: I saw Michael J. Fox was on there, he was great. And Bill Clinton, he's had some problems. They go on with the jokes, though.

KING: Horton -- I think it's here. Horton, Louisiana -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, Miss Garr. You mentioned the difficulty in diagnosing MS. Can you tell us what some of those difficulties are?

GARR: You know, I think now, you know, 2002, things are a little bit better. But when I first started having problems, they had no idea -- really they thought it was my spine was too pinched together. And that I needed to have this operation where they would put plastic things between my vertebrae and stretch my neck up. It wasn't -- that isn't what it was. What am I trying to say? Now, I think that it might be easier to diagnose because of MRIs.

KING: When you started tripping, didn't you think, what's going on?

GARR: I didn't. You know.

KING: No? You are really strange.

GARR: I know, well...

KING: In a wonderful way, you're strange. You start tripping, you think I'm tripping.

GARR: It wasn't that kind of tripping. I'd be -- it was like I would go what the hell was that? Was there a rock? Oh well. Then it didn't happen for a long time. And it just really didn't bother me. Then I think when I got really weak, I developed drop foot where I couldn't pull my foot back and they put this little brace on my foot. I thought that, well, this is fine.

KING: What do you fear the most with this disease? You don't fear wheelchair, which is what most say?

GARR: No. No. You know, I took my daughter to Disney World or something like that -- one of those Disney places. And it was so hot and I was so tired. They put me in a wheelchair. This is great. I don't fear -- I fear falling. I've fallen down a couple of times. Like, I tripped on a skateboard and went into the fireplace.

KING: Fear of embarrassing yourself?

GARR: Yes, I guess. Yes.

KING: Come on. Have something normal here, Teri.

GARR: OK, Larry.

KING: Your attitude's too good.

GARR: I guess.

KING: Menlo Park, California -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Teri.


CALLER: You're just one of the funniest people in the world. I love you to pieces. I want to say -- I have a question. But real quick, the movie you did with Ellen Burstyn -- the English movie where you were a spy. It was just the best dramatic acting I've seen in a long time. You were great. I love that movie.

I wanted to ask you: Please tell us that you're going to be either on stage or in a new movie soon, and I'm going to write it down right down. And we love you.

KING: Do you have something planned? Any script? Have you completed a film?

GARR: No, I don't have anything out there. As I said, actress protection program.

The agents have had a hard time with me because they don't want to deal with it. When I finally did leave -- I shouldn't even say William Morris, but I will. They'll probably sue me.

They said, well it's a relief because we're just having too hard a time booking you.

And I thought, you guys are nuts. You know, if I want to campaign about anything or be angry about anything, it's that people have prejudices against people that have anything wrong with them, you know? I can see what that's...

KING: Yes, but look, you obviously can act. And you obviously -- there have to be roles.

GARR: Yes. At least bagels, if not rolls, right, Larry?

No more jokes for you, because I can see you're getting angry. KING: No, I'm not getting angry, I'm just amazed at you.

I'm trying to find some unhappiness here; you're almost making it, let's all go out and get MS! This could be a fun day.

Our guest is Teri Garr.

Tomorrow night's guest will be the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

And here's a scene of Teri in "Tootsie."


GARR: I have a problem with anger.

DUSTIN HOFFMAN, ACTOR: Yeah, you certainly do. But I'll tell you something, there's 100 other actresses reading for this part who don't have a problem with anger, who aren't afraid of working, who aren't afraid to sick everything out on the line and do it.

GARR: Well don't get mad at me!

HOFFMAN: Well stop being a doormat then!

GARR: I'm not a doormat!

HOFFMAN: Act right now. Do it.

GARR: You're wrong, Dr. Brewster, I am...


GARR: You're wrong, Dr. Brewster.

HOFFMAN: What do I have to do, hit you with a stick?

GARR: You're wrong Dr. Brewster. I am very proud to be a woman. And I'm proud of this hospital. And before I see it destroyed by your petty tyrannies...

HOFFMAN: Have the anger, don't show it to me. don't push.

GARR: ... I'll recommend to the board that you be thrown out into the street.

HOFFMAN: Don't lose it now.

GARR: Good day, Dr. Brewster.

HOFFMAN: Don't whine like you're a second-rate actress.

GARR: I said good day.

HOFFMAN: Not bad. Pretty good.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Young Frankenstein")

GENE WILDER, ACTOR: Can you imagine the brain of Hans Delbruck in this body?

GARR: Oh, Frederick.

WILDER: This is the moment.

Well dear, are you ready?

GARR: Yes, doctor.

WILDER: Elevate me.

GARR: Now? Right here?

WILDER: Yes, yes. Raise the platform.

GARR: Oh, the platform. Oh, that, yes, yes.


KING: What a great movie.

GARR: Yes, very funny.

KING: Was it difficult finding that accent?


KING: Working with a guy like Mel, who's behind the camera there, and Gene, how did you not crack up?

GARR: I did crack up all the time. I was...

KING: The outtakes there of "elevate me" must have been...

GARR: Penalized quite a bit, I was.

But I had gone to an audition, and they were actually casting the Madeline Kahn part. And Mel kept saying to me, we want her to do this part, but she may not want to do it, and then you can have a chance to play the fiancee.

The last time I came in, he said, she wants to do it. But if I can come back tomorrow with a German accent.

Yes, of course I can come back with a German accent.

It's like, that's what I mean about showbusiness: Can you ski? Can you ride a horse? Can you...

KING: Can you come back with a German accent?

GARR: Yes.

KING: Birmingham, Alabama for Teri Garr.

By the way, multiple sclerosis is a chronic -- just so we know what we're talking about -- inflammatory condition of the central nervous system affecting about 350,000 people in the United States.

Birmingham, hello.

CALLER: Hi Teri. I also have MS. I was wondering: Where do you go just to deal with your life, with trying to, you know, deal with your life with MS?

GARR: Deal with my life?

KING: What do you mean by the question, ma'am?

CALLER: Well, just the everyday life of -- not just the physical, but I suffer depression and, you know, I'm down on myself for the thing I can't do anymore.

I mean, where do you go to deal with those things?

KING: You see, that's logical. Most people would be like this lady, not like you.

GARR: Should I be more like her? Oh, Larry.

No, I think you know, I just -- it's like I switch gears. And if there's something I can't do, I do something I can do. It's that corny old saying: When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

KING: You really live that, don't you?

GARR: Well, yes. I don't understand what else I could do.

I could be sad all the time. You know, it's either sink or swim, so I might as well swim. To me, it's completely logical.

KING: I think the thing most -- that would most depress you would be dancing. You love dancing.

You limp. You can't do the kind of dances. You see other people dance.

To me, how do you not feel down about that? What do you do? What inner resource do you use?

GARR: You ever heard the word "rationalization?" I just -- if I went to see like "The Nutcracker" or "The Bolshoi," or some ballet I'd be sitting in the audience going -- even before the MS -- I used to be able to do that, I can't do that now, I can do other things.

I mean, I would always say that kind of thing to myself. So you do that, Larry. Everybody does it.

KING: Where did it come from, do you think, that?

GARR: I think it came from my mother. My mother was a role model.

KING: She had gumption?

GARR: Yes. And she would always go, you know, oh, we don't care about that, or that doesn't bother us.

And we'd go, It doesn't?

No, it doesn't bother us.

OK, it doesn't bother us.

I mean, I think that's where everybody gets it, from their family, from their parents.

KING: And how much in your life do you use humor? I mean, you throw cracks here tonight talking about a delicate subject, coming out for the first time, publicly talking about it.

Is that a part of the defense mechanism?

GARR: Well, I guess you could call it a defense mechanism, or I could just come out here and be really sad and serious.

You know, the other day I was in the airport and some guy was helping me with the bags. And he said, what happened, did you have a skiing accident or something? I thought, well now's my chance to come out.

I said, no, I have MS.

And he went, oh.

And we walked the rest of the way over to this luggage carousel and we were, like, sad.

And he doesn't want to hear this. I mean, it makes people sad.

KING: But it doesn't make you sad?

GARR: No, it doesn't. It hurts other people more than it hurts me.

KING: Obviously. Pompano Beach, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening Larry.


CALLER: Ms. Garr, I've always been a big fan of yours. And I have a daughter with MS. Are you aware that not many people are as fortunate as you are? She's wheelchair and bed-bound at 35...

GARR: Wow, I'm sorry.

CALLER: ... but has a great attitude.

GARR: Does she? Good.

KING: Her question is: Do you realize that not many people are as fortunate as you are, who have this disease.

GARR: Right, I know. I know that a lot of people aren't as fortunate as I am for many things that have happened in my life.

So I appreciate...

KING: Life isn't fair, right?

GARR: Life is not fair.

But the other day I met a man on an airplane who sat next to me, and he was a lawyer for disabled people. And he was great. And he was out there finding places to put ramps on things and all this stuff.

And he's in a wheelchair. He's been crippled since he was 7, hit by a drunk driver. And I thought about this guy and I thought, you know, he's out there doing what he has to do.

It's things like that that I notice and I take and I see and I think...

KING: Do you consider yourself disabled?

GARR: Being over 50 in Hollywood.

Oh, no, I don't. I don't. But I think other people do. You know, people ask me about my limp, I say, you know, I don't know how bad it is, because I don't watch -- I don't watch myself. I don't look at it. I don't.

KING: I'm amazed.

So when you turn on television and you see a discussion about MS. We did a show -- we've done a few shows on it. Had Montel on. Nancy Davis has been a big help to you.

GARR: Love Nancy Davis.

KING: When you watch it, do you feel -- how do you feel?

GARR: How do I feel? I don't know. I feel like, OK, these people are out there talking about it. I'm not very plussed about it.

KING: You have an amazing attitude.

GARR: You know, Nancy Davis has an amazing attitude.

KING: She's the daughter of Marvin and Barbara Davis... GARR: Right, and they have the Marvin and Barbara at the Cedars- Sinai, and that's all wonderful.

And Nancy says, I don't want to do that. I want to take the money that I earn and get a bunch of doctors together three times a year and have them all do a roundtable and talk about what they've learned.

God, you're great. She's great. That's a great thing she's doing.

KING: That's proactive.

GARR: Yes, that's proactive. And she also exercises a lot. So she's good.

KING: As we go to break, here is Ms. Garr in "Mr. Mom."

GARR: Oh dear.


GARR: Now, remember, when Kenny starts talking to his breakfast, that means he's finished, right?

MICHAEL KEATON, ACTOR: He's finished, right.

GARR: And Alex has to be at school at 7:30.

KEATON: Seven-thirty.

GARR: And his pickup is 1:00 sharp.

KEATON: One o'clock.

GARR: Now, when Megan starts rubbing her little ears it means it's time for her nap.

KEATON: Time for her nap.

GARR: But don't let her sleep past 11:30 because then she won't go down for her afternoon nap, which is at 1:30.

KEATON: One o'clock, OK.

Now wait a minute, will she rub her ears again?

GARR: No, just in the morning. And please don't let her sit around in a wet diaper, OK?

Now Kenny, he'll pretty much take care of himself, won't you, honey? I mean, just keep him busy, you know, give him his tinker toys or his coloring book.

See, I think Alex will be a little helper, won't you, honey?

All right, just relax. You're going to be great. There's nothing to this.

KEATON: Honor, we got it covered. Right guys?



KING: We're back with Teri Garr who comes forward tonight about her battle with -- if it can be called that, if she treats it as another day in the park, with multiple sclerosis.

KING: You knew The Beatles?

GARR: Yes.

KING: You told "Biography" you went out nightclubbing with The Beatles.

GARR: Yes, I did.

KING: What was that like?

GARR: It was totally cool. It was the '60s and I went to London with some girlfriends of mine. Yes, we were doing some job in Monaco. So -- and we stayed in Cass Elliot's apartment and they came over.

No, the guy that was staying there, The Mamas and Papas road manager said,You want to go to a Beatles recording session? And we -- you never saw three girls move so fast in your life.

So we went over there. And we -- and then they said, Well, come on, let's all go out in John's new caravan, painted Rolls Royce. It was fabulous.

KING: They were nice?

GARR: Very nice. Very nice. You know...

KING: You danced in Presley movies?

GARR: Yes, I did.

KING: What was he like?

GARR: Very funny. People just don't realize.

KING: Funny?

GARR: He was very funny, yes. And he was great. He was very nice.

KING: I never heard a bad thing about him. I mean, everybody liked him.

GARR: Yes. Yes.

KING: Were you going to say something bad about him?

GARR: Yes, well I don't have to. He was very nice. And, you know, he was just -- he very cute.

KING: Did you date him?

GARR: I didn't date him, but a friend of mine did.

KING: And?

GARR: And what?

KING: She had a good time or...

GARR: She didn't have a consummated time, if you know what I mean.

KING: Westhaven, Connecticut. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Teri and Larry. I'd like to...


CALLER: I have a question. I'd like to know if some of the early symptoms are that Teri might have had besides tripping, if there's any other symptoms to look for or...

GARR: I had -- I'd be laying in bed and I'd feel this little beep, beep, beep on my foot. Is that a tic or a thing? It's unusual and what is that? And then it would go away.

You know, that's one of the reasons it's very hard to get a diagnosis and it's very hard to find out -- difficult to find out if you have this, because the things come and go and the things are subtle. I think they're very subtle. And they're different for everybody.

KING: Isn't your brother a doctor?

GARR: Yes, he is.

KING: What is his specialty?

GARR: He's an orthopedic surgeon. You know, bone crusher..

KING: And does he have some thoughts on MS?

GARR: No. You know, each doctor has his own specialty. And I mean, he has just as much as anybody else does but...

KING: Midland Park, New Jersey. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Teri.


KING: Hi, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I would like to know if Teri was ever tested for Lyme disease?

GARR: No. Lyme disease, no. Are the symptoms the same?

KING: Yes, some are. Especially getting tired.

GARR: I haven't been around any deer. Isn't that what you get it from? Yes.

KING: That's right, yes. St. Albans, Vermont. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering if Teri had any problems with short term memory? My wife has MS and has a lot of problems with it.

GARR: Really? What was the question? A joke. OK. I don't. But as I said, I don't have any plaquing in the brain.

Does she -- Also, let me ask this question. How old is she?

CALLER: She's 26.

GARR: Oh, man. God bless her. Because sometimes it's hormonal. And I don't know.

KING: Do you feel...

GARR: I'm not going to be my help.

KING: Do you feel a sense of guilt when you hear people already in wheelchairs who are younger than you? Twenty-six and having difficulties you're not having? do you feel kind of...

GARR: Yes. Of course I do. I feel very badly about anybody that's sick and in a wheelchair or not doing well. But you know, you have to go, Life is a poker game and we're going to play our cards somehow.

We better -- Let's do it good, a little bluffing, a little this, a little that. I mean, that's the only kind of philosophical way you can deal with it, right?

But I do -- my heart breaks for everyone that's not well.

KING: Did you learn anything about you from having this disease?

GARR: Oh, yeah. Plenty. I told you the thing of flittering around all the time. And it makes me focus. And it...

KING: Anything you didn't like?

GARR: Yes. Sometimes I get -- of course, as I say this would have gone on anyway. But I get sour grapes for other people. Why is Susan Sarandon doing all those movies, damn it? It's got nothing to do with me having MS. She's probably got a better agent or bigger breasts. I don't know.

KING: Do you go out on -- you don't go out on calls?

GARR: Once in a while. Once in awhile. But seldom, you know. I really think there's a big -- there's a big conspiracy against me in L.A.

No, they know, people have heard that I have MS.

KING: What was it like working on "Friends"?

GARR: It was great. They're very cute.

KING: Did they bring you back?

GARR: Yes, and everyone gets a million dollars an episode so I would love to go back.

KING: Do you?

GARR: No, I don't get a million dollars. I get...

KING: I mean, Can't you go back on "Friends?"

GARR: Sure. I mean, I think they're about to end that show, aren't they? I mean, yes...

KING: One more year.

GARR: One more year.

KING: Fun doing it?

GARR: Yes, they're great.

KING: As we go to break, before we come back with remaining moments with some more phone calls for Teri Garr, here is a scene of her in "Friends. "


GARR: I'm so sorry. I thought I was leaving you with the best parents in world. I didn't even hear about your mom and dad until a couple of years ago and by then you were already grown up. I don't know, you're here and I would really -- I would like to get to know you.

LISA KUDROW, ACTRESS: Yes, well, everybody does. I'm a really cool person. You know, you had 29 years to find that out. But you didn't even try. You know what? You walked out on me. And I'm going to do the same to you.

GARR: Wait.

KUDROW: I don't ever want to see you again.

Where's my purse?



KING: One more reminder, we have mentioned that Teri's being treated with an MS drug manufactured by Serono. She's a paid ambassador for MS Lifelines program funded by Serono and Pfizer. They manufacture and market this drug in the United States. She takes injections three times a week.

Phoenix, Arizona -- hello.

CALLER: Hi. I have primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis, Teri. I'm 50 years old. My question is, do have people who, you know, run errands for you and do your household chores that make your MS life, so to speak, easier?

GARR: No. But I'm thinking about getting somebody, though.

KING: You don't need anybody?

GARR: Well, I mean...

KING: Any chores you can't could?

GARR: Yes, I have a lot of trouble opening jars and stuff and bottles. And I just get these things in catalogs, you know, that help you open stuff. And I don't -- I don't have people. But I think that you can do that. I mean, you should, if you want somebody to help you and not be afraid to.

KING: You mentioned a neurologist a lot. You've seen a lot of them.

GARR: Oh, yes.

KING: Why? Why go to so many?

GARR: Well, because I kept wondering what was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- my leg is hurting me. In Texas or London or wherever the hell I was. Each doctor has a different, you know, idea, of what might be wrong with me. So that's why I went to a lot of them.

KING: There's no standard read on it?

GARR: What do you mean?

KING: Everybody has a different approach?

GARR: No, I think now there probably is more. I mean, they're more exacting about it.

KING: In other words, the last few years we've learned a lot.

GARR: Oh, yes. I think in the last two years. Just a lot of progress.

KING: Marriesville, Missouri -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, I was diagnosed with MS about nine years ago. And I have remittent relapsing MS. I'm 37-years-old. And, Teri, I want to say to you, it is real refreshing to hear your positive attitude. Larry, there are a few of us out there with MS that do have a positive attitude. It is not all doom and gloom like you're making it, OK?

KING: I'm just impressed. I'm not trying to make it doom and gloom.

CALLER: All right. I'm with you. I just want to say since I was diagnosed nine years ago, I've been very involved with fund- raising. And Teri, I was curious if you're involved in any fund- raising or, if not, if you want to come join me.

KING: Are you going to get involved in any?

GARR: Yes, I'm doing something for the neurological department at USC, where my doctor is.

KING: You going to get involved with Nancy Davis?

GARR: You mean physically? I don't know.

Yes, I have. I go to all of her meetings and come up with my hair-brained ideas. Why don't we get celebrities to draw a picture of themselves...

KING: No, but interestingly you go to all these meetings and everything and now you come out and finally say you have it. That's funny.

GARR: Well, why would I say it before?

KING: Were you in the original "Star Trek."

GARR: Yes, I was.

KING: First show.

GARR: Yes. No, not the first show. That first season.

KING: First season? Did you think it would be a hit?

GARR: No, in fact the show I did was a pilot for -- if it sold, where would I be today? Sitting with ears on. I don't know.

KING: Thanks, Teri.

GARR: Thanks, Larry. One more thing I want to say to you.

KING: Quick.

GARR: They're doing a lot of research with genes. They just found the shyness gene but it took them a long time because it was hiding behind another gene. Kills him.

KING: Aaron Brown, that's funny. All right, we'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: It's kind of ominous. I don't know if you can see it, but the lights suddenly went out here in the studio which me and Aaron are in. A whole different kind of psyche now. Kind of weird.

Tomorrow night, Colin Powell is with us. Thursday night, Madonna. And Friday night Carol Channing. And here he is, in New York, in the dark but carrying on, in that great tradition of show business, which says the show must go on -- why must the show go on?

"NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next.


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