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Interviews With Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Rodney Dangerfield

Aired May 23, 2003 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After 24 million votes, the winner of "American Idol" 2003 is Ruben Studdard.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the "American Idol"s themselves. Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken in their first joint primetime interview since Ruben's big win. How do they feel about all of the fuss over the vote counting? And did Clay know that Ruben was the winner before Ruben knew?

And then, can a mystery woman clear Scott Peterson of his wife's murder and lead authorities to Laci's real killers? What about this tan van everybody's talking about and at least four other suspects the defense is said to be seeking? And what about Scott's other other women? You'll hear all about it with Ted Rollins of KTVU who broke the latest news on Scott's love life, plus Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor and defense attorney Chris Pixley.

And then, exclusive, my man Rodney Dangerfield. His first interview since he underwent brain surgery. The comedy legend takes us inside his fight for life.

All next on a jam-packed LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with the most talked about people in America. Ruben Studdard the new "American Idol," nicknamed "The Velvet Teddy Bear" by the celebrity judge Gladys Knight. He's on your left.

And on the right, Clay Aiken, runner-up to Ruben on "American Idol."

Ruben, have you two become friends?

RUBEN STUDDARD, "AMERICAN IDOL" WINNER: That's my boy, man. You know?

KING: Tell me, Ruben. You wanted him to win.

STUDDARD: Say it again?

KING: Did you want him to win?

STUDDARD: We really didn't care who won, man. We both won, you know?

KING: Yes, you both come out pretty good.

Clay, there's a big story today in "The New York Post" that you knew the result beforehand. True?

CLAY AIKEN, "AMERICAN IDOL" RUNNER-UP: Well, I don't think it's true I knew the result beforehand. Every Wednesday we go through and try to figure out and put together the pieces to see if we can figure out if we got cut or not.

So Wednesday right before we went out on stage in the last act, I -- we glanced over and Ryan was perusing the card. And I noticed that his card had a long name on it. So I made the assumption, kind of put it together that a long name was not Clay Aiken, because it's kind of short.

So I think I kind of had a good idea. I just pieced it together. There was no guarantee.

KING: What was that moment like, Ruben, right before he announced you?

STUDDARD: It was great, man. Me and Clay were really just talking to each other about, man, it's about to be over. We get to go take a nap.


AIKEN: No nap. We didn't get to take a nap.

STUDDARD: No nap at all.

KING: Now, let's get it straight. What did you win, Ruben?

STUDDARD: A recording contract and other things.

KING: Like do you get cash, too?

STUDDARD: We get a little bit.

AIKEN: We don't do it for free.

STUDDARD: We're not hurting right now.

KING: And you get a recording contract, too, Clay?

AIKEN: Yes. I was fortunate enough that we're in talks to sign with RCA Records. Yes.

KING: Now there was some controversy about the voting process and the vote tally, a little vote confusion during the show. Let's watch this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier they gave me a number, a tally that the difference between the votes was 13,000. Our accountant was drunk. Apparently it was still very, very tight, but 1,335, just over 1,335 votes difference between the two of you.


KING: And the current tally, we understand now, is that right, Clay, was 134,000 is what Fox is announcing? Is that the margin?

AIKEN: Yes, just over 130,000 (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think what's pretty important was the fact that the percentage that Ryan gave at the beginning of the show was correct. There was just a half a percentage point difference between the two votes which I just think really shows how difficult this season was. We had an amazing group of 12 talented people, so it was a tough season. It was a tough season for all of us, so it was a close race.

KING: Ruben, how did you come to enter?

STUDDARD: I really wasn't going to be a part of the show at all. My friend Sharita Duff (ph), we were both in a band together called Just a Few Cats (ph) and she wanted to audition and I thought the show was cheesy.


STUDDARD: And look where I am right now.

AIKEN: The king of cheese.

STUDDARD: The king of cheese.

KING: Well how did she get you to do it, then?

STUDDARD: Well she basically asked me every day for like a week and I finally went with her because I didn't want her to sleep outside by herself.

KING: And, Clay, how did you get to do it?

AIKEN: It was kind of a -- someone convinced me to do it. I was working with a 13-year-old with autism in Charlotte and his mother had watched the show over the summer while I was at home and convinced me -- kept nagging me to go, go do this. Audition, audition. So I finally said I'll do it if you'll be quiet. And so I just went down to Atlanta and camped out and here I am now.

KING: Now a lot of times, they ask people -- I know on that show they criticize people on looks and the like. Were you ever criticized about your weight, Ruben, and do you intend to do anything about it? Or do you think that's part of your shtick?

STUDDARD: I mean I've always been a big dude. You know, I played football, I was offensive tackle in college. And you know I've always been a big guy. I mean always had a lot of self-confidence. You know what I'm saying? And I think I exude on stage and to other people. So I've never in my whole life really been teased about my weight.

KING: Clay, the latest edition of "The National Enquirer" -- maybe not exactly the tome of the hour -- is identifying this Jason Drake (ph) in Virginia who claims you e-mailed him during the week of "American Idol" competition saying you thought the show was rigged. Is that true?

AIKEN: That is a story that I haven't even heard yet. So I'm getting the breaking news from you.

But, no, it's absolutely not true. The producers on the show and the staff and Fox and all that stuff, there are standards and practices that are involved. It's federal crime to rig a show. And we trust the producers so much. So there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the show voting process is completely honest.

KING: Do you know Jason Drake?

AIKEN: Do not know the name. No.

KING: He says that you e-mailed him, quoted you that you were concerned about the producers' anger, feared they would fix the vote to get rid of you. All untrue?

AIKEN: Absolutely untrue.

KING: Neither of you fit what you -- Ruben, you would admit you don't fir what you would call the pop idol concept. What do you want for a career? What do you want to do?

STUDDARD: I just want to make good music that, you know, appeals to all people, man. I want to branch out and you know just have a lot of multiplatinum albums.


STUDDARD: I'm pretty sure Clay wants the same thing.

AIKEN: I can handle that.

KING: Do you want to tour too, Ruben? I mean you want to do concerts?


KING: ... what you're saying here tonight is you want to be a star.

STUDDARD: Well, you know, I love music, man. And I want -- my dream in life was to become a recording artist and I'm about to do that right now. But I also live to perform and I've been performing my whole life, whether it's been in sports or you know in band or with my singing. So you know I get to do it through this venue and I'm excited about it. KING: And, Clay, what's your goal?

AIKEN: You know, my goal has been throughout my life to be a teacher. So I'm kind of taking a different fork on this path. So everything's new to me. We're seeing what doors are opened because of this competition.

I think I can handle the multiplatinum album thing, too. We're looking forward to going to tour with the rest of the contestants, the top ten in July so...

KING: You all tour together?

AIKEN: We do, we start tour in July and we're going to take about 39 countries -- that's going to be tough work -- 39 cities throughout the country between July and August.

KING: We'll be back with more of Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, the winner and runner-up on "American Idol."

Later we'll get more into the case of the Peterson matter which gets curiouser and curiouser every day.

And then Rodney Dangerfield. We'll be right back.








KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Ruben Studdard, the new American Idol and the runnerup to Ruben, Clay Aiken. Both have major recording contracts, and lots of other prizes to boot.

What did you make of the judges, Ruben?

STUDDARD: I think all of them were great, man. All of them had so much to offer us as far as, you know, knowledge in the music industry, and especially Randy and Paula because, you know, they've been artists. You know, Simon he's an artist representative, but Randy and Paula actually were in the industry as artists so they had, you know, the information that they offered to us from their aspect.

KING: You think Simon is too cruel, Clay?

AIKEN: Too cruel?

KING: Cruel.

AIKEN: Ye, he's -- Simon's not a cruel person. He's a really nice guy. He just doesn't have the filter that some people have when they can say what he means and kind of temper what he has to say to not hurt people's feelings.

He's an honest guy. I mean, you got to respect that because he knows what he's talking about.

KING: So how are you reacting, starting with you Ruben, to all of this fame? You guys are as well known as any two people in the country. What do you make of it? How are you handling it?

STUDDARD: It's pretty different, man. You know, I enjoy -- the fans are great, man. They've really been supportive of me and Clay. You know, the two most unlikely people in the world to be sitting here as the American Idols and I think, you know, our personality won people over and that's why we're here in the seats talking to you right now, Larry.

KING: Are you -- are you enjoying the fame, Ruben?

STUDDARD: I am. We have a good time.

KING: Clay, what about you?

AIKEN: You know, it's really hard -- it's actually hard to get used to because we were both -- all of us were kind of thrown into the fire. We became somewhat household names really quickly, within a matter of -- what? -- three, four months. So it's hard to get used to, and it's really sometimes hard to understand. Sometimes I just don't -- I can't imagine that people actually like me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Or like that picture.

KING: Ruben, was there ever a time when you thought you would be tossed off?

STUDDARD: I thought that I had whatever God had for me, man. We worked really hard and, you know, every body on that -- in the top 12 deserve to be there this year, you know?

I just think, you know, whatever week if I would have got pulled off I gave my all every week, so, you know, I would have been OK with it.

KING: Very well said.

Clay, did you think you would be gone?

AIKEN: You know, every single week that I was there is a chance. It's kind of a mathematical thing. Every body who got in the -- who was in the top 10, top 12, very talented people. Every body -- when you look at how many people were voting each week, even the person who came in last place every week had millions of people who were voting for them. So it was -- it's just a mathematical thing. Some body had to have been the least number of votes and that definitely could have been me every time.

KING: Let's take a call for the guys. Boise, Idaho for Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.




CALLER: Hi, how are you?

I can't believe I'm talking to you. I wanted to know if you talked to very many of your friends back at home and how they're feeling about all of the success you've had?

KING: Clay?

AIKEN: Thee -- we -- you know, I've talked to my mom at least every other day. I talked to my grandmother just a little while ago and I try to talk to my friends as much as possible, but we haven't had much free time at all.

Actually I think we're both going to get some free time later on in the week and I'm hoping to be able to get home at some point.

KING: Now with all of the success -- look at Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. They have a new movie together. She has a major hit album.

What about, Ruben, this Frenchy Davis who was booted off of the show because of some problems with pornography and the like? Were you friends with Frenchy?

STUDDARD: Yes. Frenchy's a wonderful person, man. She's a great individual and also she's a extremely talented individual, man. She -- I think she's one of the best female vocalists I've heard in a long time. And, you know, she's in "Rent" now, so you got to go out there and check her out there. We're going to see her tomorrow, hopefully, maybe.

KING: Hopefully -- maybe? What -- are you going to -- why not -- are you going to see her, Clay?

AIKEN: We have -- we got to see -- I don't know what I'm doing after this. Right now our schedules are so packed. We're hoping that our schedules are free enough that we can get out there to see her.

KING: Are -- do you two regard yourselves from now on as competitors, Ruben? I mean, after this you're going to record for different companies.

STUDDARD: I don't know, man. Me and clay, we've always had a friendly competition going. We keep each other on our toes, man. And I think it's going to be no different with, you know, the selling of our albums. And me and clay, you know -- I think -- me or Clay and I, excuse me. My mom told me to stop saying me and Clay. But I think we'll both do really well when he comes to record sales this year coming up.

KING: I would imagine. Clay, do you regard yourself as a rival?

AIKEN: You know, think it's less of a rival. It's definitely not a rivalry. It's more of a competition to -- with -- for myself and I think Ruben feels the same way to do the best that we can do. It's definitely not a rivalry at all.

We -- I support him. I would be the first person in line to get his album and he better be the first person in line to get mine.

KING: Let's get another call in. New Castle, Pennsylvania for Ruben and Clay, hello.

CALLER: hey, guys. Congratulations I'm really proud of you both.

STUDDARD: Thank you.

AIKEN: Thank you.

CALLER: I've watched from the beginning and I just want to know what you guys are going to do when you get your first big paycheck. What are you going to buy? What are you going to spend it on? What are you going to do?

KING: All right. That's a good question.

Ruben, what's the first thing you'll do with your first big money?

STUDDARD: I'm going to pay the U.S. government for $4,000 student loans.

KING: Wow. That's great.

And Clay?

AIKEN: I'm probably going to pay the U.S. government a lot of taxes. I got to pay off -- I have some bills I need to pay off. I'd like to help my mom -- give some money to her for that to help pay off towards the house that I'm -- that we're living in. So...

KING: Well, congratulations to both of you. How will you two guy, for 30 second, sing us to break? Pick any thing out. Acapella.


KING: Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Thanks, guys. Again, congratulations.

STUDDARD: Thank you, Larry.

AIKEN: Thank you, Larry. KING: Thank you, guys.

When we come back, more about the Scott Peterson matter.

Don't go away.





KING: Still to come later, Rodney Dangerfield, one of the funniest people alive. He had brain surgery, he's going to tell us all about it.

Let's get caught up on the Scott Peterson matter. Current issue of "Playboy," just out today. Inside their marriage, family photos, longing for a child and all for the rest. It's "People." I'm sorry. What did I say? What did I say? "Playboy." It's "People." But "Playboy," I'm sure will have a story, too.

In San Francisco, Ted Rowlands reporter for KTVU has been covering the case for the get-go. In Washington, Nancy Grace, anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV and a former prosecutor. And in Atlanta defense attorney Chris Pixley.

All right, Ted, what is this about the other women women?

TED ROWLANDS, KTVU TV: Well, we established basically got it confirmed by multiple sources that two other women have been established to have had some sort of intimate relationship with Scott Peterson. What we don't is what their role if any, will be in this case. We have been told that they are no Amber Freys. We're not talking about bombshells here, we're just talking about evidence of other intimate relationships.

Defense folks say it actually helps them because it proves that Amber Frey was not the reason that this guy would go out and kill his wife and unborn child. But we have confirmed that he had two other intimate relationships.

KING: Is that a good point, Nancy? Why kill a wife over one woman when you're fooling with others?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I've never bought into the argument that Amber Frey was the reason Scott Peterson is accused of double murder. Someone else...

KING: What's then was the reason, do you think?

GRACE: As an armchair psychiatrist, I would that say he wanted to be free. That he did not want to be married and the sudden discovery he would soon be a father may have hampered his style. Apparently he had quite a style going, Larry.

KING: So why not divorce?

GRACE: You know what, Larry? Every time I have prosecuted a domestic homicide I have looked at the jury and said, hasn't anybody, but me heard about divorce? Didn't that ever occur to the defendant in this case? But apparently there are those people who don't think like you or I may think, Larry. And they see as murder as an alternate to divorce.

KING: Chris Pixley, what do you make of -- what factor will this, if true, will these other women be?

CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well I think it can be very good news for the defense team, Larry. For months, the prosecution has been floating the theory that somehow Laci Peterson's disappearance is tied to the Amber Frey affair. And they've even convinced a lot of people in the public that Scott would murder his wife, actually to be with a woman that he's known for a very short period of time.

Now the truth's come out. Amber wasn't the love of his life. There may have been many others. And while that hurts his public image, certainly, it decimates the prosecutorial theory that he murdered his wife to be with his mistress. And don't tell Gloria Allred I said this, but it doesn't do much for Amber Frey. She may be a non-issue now in this case.

KING: Ted Rowlands, what's the satanic cult story?

ROWLANDS: Well, that's being floated as well. It has been for the last week or two that Laci may have been victimized by a satanic cult of some sort that was in Modesto, they believe. And the defense says they have proof, basically, that there are other people who could be involved. They've got witnesses lined up. They say want to proceed as quickly as possible.

And they're anticipating next Tuesday going to the judge and saying let us go right now with the preliminary hearing, we want to layout our case and get our guy out of jail. They think Scott has nothing to do with it and at this point the evidence just isn't there and their guy should be free.

KING: Nancy, what do you make of it?

GRACE: Well, did it ever dawn on anybody that Mark Geragos may very well ask for a speedy trial because the longer he wait the more evidence the state is literally going to dig up? Not just a string of affairs.

And to me, that's like putting perfume on a pig to say that the more affairs he has the better he looks to a jury. But you know what? Whatever! I'm referring to the evidence I think the state will ultimately find theirs in the bay outside the Berkeley Marina.

KING: CNN, Chris, has spoken to a neighbor of the Petersons, who says he saw a suspicious tan van with a suspicious acting man in the neighborhood the morning of Christmas Eve. Does this further add to this dilemma?

PIXLEY: Well, it helps the defense and it adds to the dilemma for the prosecution, you know? How did they get around this? They seem to have dismissed all of the other evidence that's out there other than what they were focusing on that had to do with Scott Peterson.

There is more eyewitness evidence as we are learning now even just this week that links her disappearance to this tan van than there is linking Scott Peterson to the disappearance. So to dismiss the van, to say that it was a gardner's van and then the defense looks into it and finds out that there wasn't anybody in the neighborhood that was using the gardner. There's event these reports that someone may have seen Laci being force into the van.

That's the kind of evidence that you want to believe the prosecution's going to pursue, the police and state are going to look into. It's very questionable why we're hearing it now.

KING: Nancy, a good prosecutor would look into that, would he not? or would she?

GRACE: You're darn right. Not only would you look in it before you charge, but you would look into it as possible defenses that will be brought up.

Now, if they've got a van with Laci's finger prints or her DNA or they've got an eyewitness, seeing Laci, not the other pregnant woman in that neighborhood police have interviewed that walked her dog that morning, they've got a witness putting Laci in that van and they can find that van, then they've got a leg to stand on.

Until right now these are all just phantom defense theories.

PIXLEY: Nancy, the idea that there is another woman 5 feet 1 inches tall with black hair, walking a golden retriever has never made any sense. If the prosecution can come up with her, God bless them.


GRACE: ... they have interviewed her and she lives just down the street from Laci Peterson.

PIXLEY: You know we've got all this wonderful specific evidence that's been linked by the police. That hasn't been linked out there, Nancy. You're the only one that seems to know about it.

KING: Hey, Ted? Anything new on the autopsy?

ROWLANDS: Nothing new, just that it's been sealed. A lot of people are leaking information that they say is in that report. But the judge sealed it, so publicly we honestly just don't know what's in there.

We do know that Geragos and his team will have their own pathologist taking a look at the remains to see if they can decipher something that wasn't in that autopsy report that may help their case.

KING: Stockertown, Pennsylvania, hello?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: I have a question for Nancy.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: First of all, I think you are absolutely wonderful. I watch you every chance I get.

KING: What's the question, dear?

CALLER: My question is does anyone know when they will be releasing Laci and Connor for a proper burial?

KING: Do we know, Nancy?

CALLER: Her poor family.

KING: Do we know?

GRACE: As a matter of fact, I know this much. The defense has a right -- and as much as we don't want to think of Laci's remains as evidence for the state and the defense, they are.

So the defense has a right to look at the evidence. If they want to bring in a forensic pathologist and any medical examiner to look at it they can. I think they're still looking for the rest of Laci's remains. And as soon as that independent exam is done, the remains will be given to Laci's family for burial.


PIXLEY: ... be aware, this examination by the coroner, the medical examiner has taken so long now that the remains of Laci Peterson's body and Connor's body are in a completely different state than they would have been in when the prosecution team got their hands on them. So there are all kind of problems.

KING: I got to get a break and then we'll take a few more calls and then meet Rodney Dangerfield.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE, we'll be right back.


KING: We'll take a few calls for Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace and Chris Pixley, and then meet Rodney Dangerfield. Modesto, California, hello.



CALLER: I have a question for Nancy Grace.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: My question is, she mentioned that when the bodies were found that it seemed to be that Laci had on a maternity pajama top. And my question was if Scott had been questioned or if anyone knows if he was questioned about what he said she was wearing when he left the house on December 24.

GRACE: He was. He was questioned. There were several reports regarding what Laci was wearing when he remains were found. They ranged from a maternity bra to some maternity PJs. Other reports suggested those PJs were missing from the home. He was asked and he said she was wearing black pants with a white top when she took the dog for a walk. Don't know if those items were recovered from the home.

KING: To Courtemadera, California. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have a question for Ted Rowlands and an opinion from Nancy Grace.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: OK. There was a woman interviewed right after this happened in December that observed in the Berkeley Marina, she lives there, that she saw this truck and boat and it came by her neighborhood around 7:30 in the morning and woke her up, and her comment was, well, he didn't stay very long because it came right back after that. I just found it curious, does anyone have an opinion?

KING: Ted?

ROWLANDS: Well, there's been a couple of reports that place him in the Berkeley Marina at odd hours, in the overnight hours, but there also have been reports placing him all over Northern California. People have been calling in saying I saw that. As soon as that truck and boat were put out they had calls literally from everywhere, placing Scott Peterson. So how much credence you want to put on each report is really depends, I guess, on the person who is doing and it takes an investigator to figure that out.

KING: Nancy, do you know any more?

GRACE: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, there are apparently two Berkeley city employees who were working at the marina that have identified a boat and a truck similar to Scott's, and say they went up to try to help him when he pulled up to the pylon and he brushed them away. And earlier I was asked where I got my information regarding the other pregnant woman there in the neighborhood that walked her dog. I got it from the Laci Peterson Web site at

KING: And Chris Pixley, you want to comment on that?

PIXLEY: Well, Larry, the problem here is that there have been stories that there were multiple pregnant women walking dogs near Laloma (ph) park at the same time that Laci Peterson is said to have been walking, and there are multiple witnesses who say they saw this dark haired pregnant woman, eight months pregnant. I just find it hard to believe that you're going to be able to come up with multiple witnesses or even (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRACE: You find that hard to believe, but you're buying into a satanic cult? OK.

PIXLEY: I don't think I've sounded off on the satanic cult, Nancy, but if you want to talk about that, we can.

KING: Talford, Pennsylvania. Hello?

CALLER: Hi. My question is for Nancy. I was wondering why it is that both the prosecution and the defense want the results from the autopsy sealed?

GRACE: You know, I think the statement they gave to police judge -- to Judge Girolami was that they thought it would hinder the further investigation as well as Scott Peterson getting a fair trial, but you cannot keep documents secret forever. So they'll have to be released at some point.

KING: We thank you both, all three of you very much. We'll be calling on you lots, as you know, as this you're kind of three of our regulars, Nancy and Chris and Ted Rowlands. And again, the current issue of "People" magazine, it is the June 2 issue, is now out. All about this, inside their marriage. There you see its cover. Family photos, longing for a child. The latest on the woman and Scott's defense, and the surprising strategy. That's the new issue of "People."

And when we come back, one of my favorite people, Rodney Dangerfield. Don't go away.


RODNEY DANGERFIELD, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I think this place is restricted, Wang, so don't tell me you're Jewish, OK? Fine. Hey, kid, I'm Al Czerwick. I'm playing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today. This is my guest, Mr. Wang. No offense. Oh, can I have a half a dozen of those (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and hook my friend up here with the whole shmear -- you know, clubs, bats, shoes, glove, shirts, pants. Hey, orange balls. I'll have a box of those. Give me a box of those (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and give me two of those. Give me six of those. This is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. You buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup? Oh, it looks good on you, though.



KING: He's been on "The Tonight Show" over 70 times. His autobiography is due out later this year. He's comic legend Rodney Dangerfield. He's going to do a rare, one-night only concert appearance at the MGM Grand Hotel Saturday, July 19. His movie, "The Fourth Tenor" is being released July 29 by Warner Home Video and DVD and this is his first time as a guest on this show and an honor to have you finally with us.

RODNEY DANGERFIELD, COMEDIAN: Thank you so much. Pleasure to be here.

KING: All right, Rodney. What happened in April? What -- what happened to you with the brain?

DANGERFIELD: Well, my brain wasn't getting enough blood, and so they did an operation to increase the circulation and the blood flow to my brain.

KING: What were the symptoms?

DANGERFIELD: The symptoms? I didn't have any real big symptoms. The doctor just did ran tests and I want to thank Dr. Neal Martin (ph). He saved my life, I guess, you know?

KING: You mean you just did an ordinary physical and they found this...

DANGERFIELD: Yes, they found a lack of bloodstream to my brain.

KING: Were you scared?

DANGERFIELD: For some reason, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I said if I don't make it I'll never know it.

KING: It's a good way to look at it.

DANGERFIELD: And the doctor gives you that smile when you're in a gurney there. They always look at you like, Don't worry. I know what I'm doing. One of those things.

KING: Now you were supposed to have heart surgery, right?

DANGERFIELD: Well, they didn't know which to do first.

KING: Rodney the wreck.

DANGERFIELD: I was supposed to have heart surgery and then they thought the heart was strong enough to take care of the other operation of brain surgery and I may have to have heart surgery. I'll know in six or eight months from now if I need heart surgery.

KING: So you're feeling good.

DANGERFIELD: Yes, I'm feeling good. I'm going back to work in a month, as you mentioned. And I'm feeling good. The best I've felt in a long, long time.

KING: When they do brain surgery, was there pain involved, like after you came out?

DANGERFIELD: I didn't know a thing. The operation was a long one. It took about 12 hours.

KING: Geez.

DANGERFIELD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) little hoarse. They put tubes down your throat, you know? And after 12 hours of tubes in your throat, when they pulled them out, they hit the vocal cords, this, that, so I'm still a hoarse from -- this should be gone in a week.

KING: Where's the scars?


KING: Oh, I see it on the side, yes.

Not a big incision.

DANGERFIELD: No. No. Just a -- I don't know how big is an incision's supposed to be?

KING: How do I know? But did you worry, for example, I'm fooling around with the brain, did you worry about loss of memory? Loss of faculty?

DANGERFIELD: For some reason my recuperation was a miracle. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I recuperated so quickly, and I didn't worry about it, because as I said before, if I don't make it, I'll never know it.

KING: You lost 30 pounds?

DANGERFIELD: Thirty pounds, I lost. Yes.

KING: You are also married -- we're going to meet your girl, your lady here for us, also from Utah, right?

DANGERFIELD: You were married to a Mormon, too. And my wife is Mormon, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: And in (ph) a nightclub...

DANGERFIELD: And next week, I'm marrying her sister.

KING: Your nightclub is still -- your nightclub is still going in New York?

DANGERFIELD: Still going, 34 years.

KING: It's going to be 34 years.

DANGERFIELD: It's the oldest-running nightclub in the history of nightclubs. Still there. KING: I saw you 30 years ago at Dangerfield's in New York. That's a great club.


DANGERFIELD: ... comedians, you know, and it's a lot of fun.

KING: How did you come up -- I remember you when you had the other name. You had another name.

DANGERFIELD: This is my third name.

KING: What was your first name?

DANGERFIELD: I was born Jacob Cohen, but I decided to change that when I went into show business, because my father's name wasn't really (ph) show business, so I became Jack Roy.

KING: Jack Roy.

DANGERFIELD: That's right. Then I quit show business for 12 years, and to give you an idea of how well I was doing at the time I quit -- I was the only one who knew I quit. And anyway, then I came back and I said, what can I do that's different, you know? I'll call myself Rodney Dangerfield.

KING: How'd you come up with that name?

DANGERFIELD: The truth of the matter is, I didn't want my name in the paper because I was coming back, I didn't know how good I would do, and in New York, remember, years ago, listed every name in the paper (UNINTELLIGIBLE) club you were working at. So I told the boss, make up any name at all. Don't put my name in. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It turned out he put "Rodney Dangerfield" in.

KING: Just like that.

DANGERFIELD: Just like that. And a friend of mine said, keep it, it's a wild name. And if you don't make it with a name like that, you're an idiot, you know.

KING: When you were Jackie Roy...


KING: Jack Roy.


KING: Didn't you open for some singers?

DANGERFIELD: I opened for a lot of singers.

KING: Didn't you open for Peggy Lee?

DANGERFIELD: Peggy Lee, right. KING: I saw you...

DANGERFIELD: In Miami, that was.

KING: .. in Miami.

DANGERFIELD: Right, right.

KING: Jack Roy, the Peggy Lee show featuring Jack Roy. It was you.

DANGERFIELD: Are you accusing me?

KING: No, I guess I'm excited, that's all.

DANGERFIELD: I think my name was Rodney Dangerfield then.

KING: No, I think it was Jack Roy.

DANGERFIELD: OK. It's your show. It was Jack Roy.

KING: How did you come up with the concept of "I don't get no respect?"

DANGERFIELD: Well, I started out -- I wanted to have an image and -- in show business, so I started out with "nothing goes right." Everyone could identify with that, nothing goes right. Then all of a sudden, "The Godfather" came out and all I heard was respect -- she's with me, respect her, respect, respect, I heard respect all over the place. So I wrote a joke, I don't get no respect. I played hide and seek, they wouldn't look for me. It was the first joke I wrote.

KING: That was the first?

DANGERFIELD: Since then I've written over 500 no respect jokes, and that's what got me started.

KING: And that became almost a whole routine, right, going, the whole act was I don't get no respect.

DANGERFIELD: Well, not the whole act, but a good portion of it, because I couldn't keep a hundred no respect jokes. So it was an image. I was lucky I found it.

KING: But it worked for you. And then you had the movies.

DANGERFIELD: I got lucky with "Caddyshack."

KING: Not bad.

DANGERFIELD: ... and a few others.

KING: We're going to go to break, and as we go to break, tell me about the "4th Tenor." We're going to see a scene from that.

DANGERFIELD: "The 4th Tenor," well this is, I'm in love with a girl, and she won't marry me unless I can sing and break a glass. So -- I can't sing, so I go to Italy to learn how to sing, and then I come back and I'm a singer -- you'll see it.

KING: OK. And when we come back, Rodney's wife from Utah will join us. Here's a scene from the "4th Tenor."







DANGERFIELD: Right after this drink. Hey, what's a band without bubbles? Hey, Bubbles, come over here, will you? Well! Hi there.


DANGERFIELD: What's your favorite subject?


DANGERFIELD: Really? Well, maybe you can help me straighten out my Longfellow.


KING: That's Rodney in "Back to School," one of the funniest movies. Before we meet his wife Joan, you wanted to say something about the water he's drinking. What are you involved with water?

DANGERFIELD: This is the best water there is, and it came about when I was doing a movie called "Ladybugs" about 12 years ago. And it tasted great, and we used it ever since.

KING: Mountain Valley.

DANGERFIELD: Yes. And so finally I made a deal with these people.

KING: Which is?

DANGERFIELD: And I said, I'll plug your water here and there, whenever I can, and you give me water for the rest of my life. And it's a strange contract, isn't it?

KING: They ship you water.

DANGERFIELD: They ship for the rest of my life, yes.

KING: Mountain Valley. DANGERFIELD: And sometimes they're not too happy I'm still around. You know?

KING: You're walking health for their water.

DANGERFIELD: That's right.

KING: Joan, how did you and Rodney meet?

DANGERFIELD: It was a go-go joint, wasn't it?

JOAN DANGERFIELD, RODNEY'S WIFE: No, we actually met at my flower shop that I used to have in Santa Monica. And Rodney was walking by. I think he was at (UNINTELLIGIBLE), getting healthy.


DANGERFIELD: That's right.

KING: You were healthy?

DANGERFIELD: Well, I was trying to be healthy, you know.

KING: And listen, did you like her right away, Rodney?

DANGERFIELD: Well, yes. I stayed around and smelled the flowers, and I stayed too long. That's what happened.

KING: You've been together a long time now, Joan?


DANGERFIELD: We've been married about a little over 10 years.

J. DANGERFIELD: Ten years.

KING: What was the attraction, Joan? I mean, you're younger?

DANGERFIELD: She said a sign on the forehead that said "I'm easy, I'm easy, I'm easy." That was the attraction.

J. DANGERFIELD: Rodney is the most unique individual I've ever met in my life.

KING: How so?

J. DANGERFIELD: Well, obviously the funniest man in the world, but also he has a tender side. He's intelligent. He's so fun to be around. I just ended up looking forward to hearing from him, whether it's just his voice on the phone or -- I -- I don't know.

KING: Did you try to persuade him to become a Mormon?

J. DANGERFIELD: Well, I tried. I told him about the Mormons and he became fascinated with certain aspects and ended up... DANGERFIELD: A man who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his 14-year-old daughter I want you to marry my Cousin Andrew and be his eighth wife. Where are they at? You know what I mean?

J. DANGERFIELD: Now the Mormons today don't believe in polygamy. They don't believe -- Rodney was fascinated with the concept and ended up writing a movie about polygamy.


J. DANGERFIELD: Right. Right, He was married to five women at a time there.

KING: So you two really get along and the age difference is no hampering to it?

DANGERFIELD: Well, I act young.

J. DANGERFIELD: Sometimes I think I should have married a much older man, older than Rodney because I have a hard time keeping up with him, actually. That's true.

DANGERFIELD: This is the happiest time in my life, you know that? And I enjoyed the work I'm doing.

KING: What was it like for you when he was having the brain surgery?

J. DANGERFIELD: Oh, I was scared to death, naturally. I mean, it was a very...

DANGERFIELD: She told the doctor, Make it quick. Make it quick.

J. DANGERFIELD: I mean, it was -- it was a scary, very scary time. They actually took a vein from outside of his skull, drilled a hole in his skull and moved the artery into the middle of his brain.

KING: Like a bypass.

J. DANGERFIELD: It was a bypass. A brain bypass.


KING: They bypassed your brain.


DANGERFIELD: Brain bypass.

KING: Think about it, Rodney. You're a first. A brain bypass.

J. DANGERFIELD: And Dr. Martin had a slide show of the operation, -- not of Rodney's, but of that particular proceed out Internet and I watched it a few times and that might have been a mistake, but -- so I knew exactly what they were doing.

KING: I'm fascinated with how they pick this up in a regular physical.

J. DANGERFIELD: Well, he had, -- I don't know if you don't mind my saying he had a -- has a blocked carotid artery and also blocked vertebral artery on the right side of his neck.

KING: How'd they pick that up?


J. DANGERFIELD: So his circulation...

DANGERFIELD: I feel like I'm back in my old neighborhood. I'm sorry.

KING: So he had the carotid artery.

J. DANGERFIELD: Yes, you know, there's four arteries that feed blood to your brain and two of his are completely blocked and the other two are blocked in a total of six different places so how he was getting blood to his brain, nobody knows.

KING: How were you walking -- how were you walking around?

DANGERFIELD: They don't know.

J. DANGERFIELD: Well, that's what started to become a problem. If he was standing up too long...

KING: But you didn't have pain? Headaches? Nothing?

DANGERFIELD: Nothing to speak of, right?

J. DANGERFIELD: No, but he would become very white in his head and his hands and I knew something was wrong, so we -- wed had a lot of tests done and we knew he had to have his aortic valve replaced and there was a combination of symptoms going on.

KING: You had a mild heart attack once, too?

DANGERFIELD: I had -- what was it? Was it a silent heart attack I had?

J. DANGERFIELD: You definitely had for sure one heart attack. Maybe two. We're not totally sure. But he had a double bypass.

DANGERFIELD: Gee, what a happy show.

KING: We care about you, Rodney. You're an American. You're a tradition. You're a part of Americana.


KING: The word respect has been changed forever because of you. You look up respect in the dictionary and they get your picture.


KING: No, but I mean that. You have changed the nomenclature. You are part of the culture.

Now what is this about dolls? You sell dolls?

DANGERFIELD: No. They make a doll that looks like me.

KING: A Rodney Dangerfield doll?

DANGERFIELD: Yes, and you press a button and it starts talking, telling jokes. That's what the doll is.

J. DANGERFIELD: It's so cute.

KING: This was made with your permission, I hope.

DANGERFIELD: They made it assuming I've give them permission.

KING: They made it first?

J. DANGERFIELD: That's right. They made a prototype first.

DANGERFIELD: That's right.

J. DANGERFIELD: They did. They did.

KING: And you get a -- hopefully you get a piece of every doll sold?

DANGERFIELD: Every doll, I'm not sure.

KING: You're making deals with water companies, doll companies. You got a thousand things going for you, Rodney.

DANGERFIELD: I know. I know. Well, I keep busy.

KING: Do you still do flowers?

J. DANGERFIELD: I don't any more, no.

KING: You had a good business.

J. DANGERFIELD: I know. I know. I gave it to my sister and she ended up selling it recently.

KING: The sister he's going to marry?

J. DANGERFIELD: Probably. But it's still going on. The company Jungle Roses is still going to. As a matter of fact, it's based out of Utah now.

KING: Oh, really?

You're going back into the MGM. DANGERFIELD: Yes.

KING: Does that mean you're going to start doing more in the way of standup? You going to be back back?

DANGERFIELD: Yes, I mean that's a -- stand-up is show business, you know? Piped in laughter is not show business. I mean, you never get the feeling from television where you're knocking people out and they're rolling with laughter and every thing else. That, to me is show business. So I'll always do stand-up. I broke in that way. I was a singing waiter when I was 19. That's how I broke into show business.

KING: But now that you're going -- you're going into the MGM Grand on July 19 the one night. Do you plan to do more stuff? You going to do Vegas more? Atlantic city? You going to do clubs?

DANGERFIELD: Well, Atlantic City is too much -- too far away, you know? Vegas is nice and close. So I probably do some job, too.

KING: Do you miss the rollicking days? Do you miss the nights at Dangerfield's and the clubs? I mean, you had it going.

DANGERFIELD: It was successful. It still is. If you want to have some fun, that's the place go. My partner would love to hear this, you know?

KING: Do you miss working?

DANGERFIELD: I miss working. I miss -- all the things I do I enjoy now. If I don't do one of them, I'm involved in a few movies, too, now, and -- but stand-up is -- that's show business, you know?

KING: You are a natural. You had "The Caddyshack" and the movies. He was a movie star. You're a genuine movie star, Rodney. I mean, you had hit movies.


KING: So Joan, what are the plans? Do you plan much of a future? I mean, do you sit down and talk about? Do you ever think of retiring?

DANGERFIELD: No I'd go nuts. I'd go crazy retiring. You know what I mean?

Do I think of a future? I'm 81. I don't think of the future. I just go along day by day, you know?

J. DANGERFIELD: No, I want him to live to be a hundred or plus. I want that.

KING: You got a new brain.

J. DANGERFIELD: That's right.

DANGERFIELD: That's right.

KING: Finally, respect: a new brain.

Rodney, a delight knowing you.

DANGERFIELD: A pleasure being here, Larry.

KING: Joan.


KING: All right. Let's get -- let's get the dates straight because Vegas is going to pack them in. The MGM Grand Hotel on Saturday, July 19. That's a one-night only concert at the MGM Grand.

And his movie, "The Fourth Tenor," is going to be released July 29 to Warner Home Video and DVD.

Rodney Dangerfield, his lovely wife Joan. We'll be back to tell you about the weekend right after this.


KING: I hope you enjoyed tonight's show.

Tomorrow night we'll repeat our interview with Robert Kennedy and on Sunday night repeating our last interview with young Mattie Stepanek and we'll be joined by the great singer Billy Gilman.

And Monday night, Carol Channing is back with us with her new husband.

"NEWSNIGHT" is next. Guess what? It's going to be hosted out of London. Guess what? It's going to be hosted by one of my favorite people. To host "NEWSNIGHT" in London, here is Christiane Amanpour.



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