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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Cokie Roberts, Christina Ferrare, Howard Bingham, Benedikt Taschen, Valerie Estess, Bernie Yuman, Joseph Califano
Aired May 22, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, newswoman and commentator Cokie Roberts on some remarkable women who helped make history as America's founding mothers. Plus, Christina Ferrare, the former supermodel, says you've already got all it takes to be happy. And Valerie Estess on the woman who knocked Katie Couric's socks off. Valierie's late sister Jennifer Estess.
All that, a lot more, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of my favorite people: Cokie Roberts, "The New York Times" best selling author, looking as lovely as ever. Her new book is "Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation."
She's a political commentator for ABC News, senior news analyst for National Public Radio.
How is your health, before we get to the others?
COKIE ROBERTS, AUTHOR, "FOUNDING MOTHERS": I'm great, Larry. I'm a little tired from being out on book tour, but I feel wonderful.
KING: Have you -- have you gotten over that -- do you still have what you had?
ROBERTS: No, no. My breast cancer is gone, and I'm feeling great.
KING: Do you miss Sunday mornings?
ROBERTS: Well, I miss hanging out with Sam and George, because as you know, they're great guys. But -- but it's awfully nice to have my Sundays to my family.
KING: Now tell me about "Founding Mothers," concept, how it came about, thoughts.
ROBERTS: Well, these are the women who influenced the Founding Fathers, the women who influenced Jefferson and Adams and Hamilton and Madison and Washington. And, you know, when I thought about it, I really didn't know very much about them at all.
And, as you know, Larry, here in Washington when you deal with Congress and politics, you spend a lot of time thinking about the Founding Fathers as you go back and read their debates over the right to bear arms or for freedom of religion or something like that. And you get so you feel like you're quite close to them.
But knowing what I do from years of covering politics and growing up in it, I knew they weren't doing it by themselves. The women had to be very influential.
KING: Now, when you say Founding Mothers, are these wives or mothers or both?
ROBERTS: They're -- they're wives, mothers, daughters, sister, friends. Women who had the ears of the Founding Fathers.
KING: Just -- is the most famous Mrs. Adams?
ROBERTS: Yes, she is because bless her, she left us her letters. And she regularly asked John to destroy her letters, particularly when she was saying something really feisty about politics. But he had the good sense not to destroy them.
And others that she wrote to also saved her letters. She had a regular correspondence with Thomas Jefferson, and she wrote wonderful letters to her sisters, which were saved. And so we have all of the letters.
The others were a lot harder. There was a lot of detective work...
KING: I'll bet.
ROBERTS: ... in finding out about Martha Washington and about the daughters of Thomas Jefferson. Because his wife we have nothing from. He destroyed all of her letters.
And a bunch of other women that you've really never heard of, who turn out to be great ladies.
KING: Who -- which of the Founding Fathers was the most difficult to research re: mothers?
ROBERTS: Jefferson was the most difficult re: mothers. But the most difficult Founding Father in terms of being a nice guy to his wife and family was Benjamin Franklin, a person I had liked until I wrote this book.
KING: He was a rogue, wasn't he?
ROBERTS: He was a -- he was a cad. And he lived away for the last 17 years of his marriage. He was in England. His wife, Deborah, was left to run the postal service, because he was postmaster general. So she had to become postmaster general. Run the real estate ventures and run the print shop.
And he would write to her and say, "You're doing a good job." You know, thank you very much, Ben. And she would beg him to come home. He was having a wonderful time in England.
Then the mob marched on their house because they thought that he was selling out on the Stamp Act. Deborah had to defend the house with a gun. Ben writes to her and says, "Well done, Deborah." But he doesn't come home.
Their only daughter just married, and he says, "Keep the wedding cheap" and still doesn't come home.
Finally, she died, and he came home, saying, "I have to go back because the wife in whose hands I left the care of my affairs died." So he had to go home and deal with his affairs.
KING: Cokie, why don't we know more about the first first lady?
ROBERTS: Martha Washington. I think she's done herself a disservice in history with a little cap, you know? She looks like a namby-pamby little grandmotherly type, but she turned out to be a very strong woman.
Every winter -- you know, all we do know about her is the winter at Valley Forge. But every winter, she went to camp with the soldiers, and there were eight long winters in that Revolutionary War.
And there were times that she kept them from deserting. She -- she would bring bolts of cloth and food. And she and the other generals' wives would have sewing circles. And they would feed and clothe and nourish and pray with the soldiers. And they had songfests and dances and things to try to keep up morale.
The soldiers loved her, and they called her Lady Washington. They cheered her into camp. Larry, you'll love this part, one soldiers wrote to his brother how much he -- he was proud to be guarding Mrs. Washington, because the British were close by. And he said but a bunch of congressmen have come over here, and they're volunteering to guard her, as well. And they're drinking up all their rations in wine.
KING: Nothing's changed.
ROBERTS: Not a lot has changed.
KING: Which of the women didn't you like?
ROBERTS: Well, I liked -- I liked most of them. The one who was definitely not a patriot was the wife of Benedict Arnold, Peggy Arnold. And she was in it from the beginning.
KING: She was?
ROBERTS: She felt -- she was. She wrote -- she, Peggy, wrote in invisible ink, literally between the lines of innocent letters, she wrote the troop movements, the intelligence that the British were paying for.
And when Arnold was captured, she put on the show of the century. She threw an hysterical fit. "How could he do this?" You know, she pulled her hair, tore her clothes. And Washington believed her. Hamilton believed her. Lafayette believed her. She was a very pretty girl.
And -- and then she went to England with Benedict, and the British crown gave her a healthy pension for life for the services rendered. And it wasn't until the middle of the 20th Century that the British papers were released and we learned her complete involvement in the spying.
KING: There's a new book out about Alexander Hamilton. It's gotten rave reviews. What about his wife?
ROBERTS: Well, she was longsuffering. He does seem to have loved her, but he had a lengthy affair with her sister. And -- and then he had to, at one point in his life, had to do this very -- this is another -- this is what will remind you of recent history, as well. Had to do a very public confession, because it was shown that he was paying blackmail.
And his enemies, Madison and Jefferson and Monroe, alleged that he was paying blackmail because he was misusing treasury securities, when in fact he was paying blackmail to cover up the fact that he was having a torrid affair.
His wife, Betsy Schuyler Hamilton, stood by her man. And his political career was saved when he said he was cheating on his wife, not his country.
But she -- I said, it does sound somewhat familiar, doesn't it?
KING: Were they -- was there an interesting group? The Founding Fathers, we kind of revered them, but they had lots of faults.
ROBERTS: Of course they had lots of faults. They were human, like thee and me. But -- but they were alive at an extraordinary time, and they rose to the occasion brilliantly and so did these women.
KING: And your book is already a deserved best seller. You're one of the best people in the business, and I salute you, Cokie. Great seeing you.
ROBERTS: Thank you, Larry.
KING: You're looking so well, too.
ROBERTS: Well, it's so nice to be with you. I'll come back to Washington soon.
KING: Cokie Roberts. The book, "Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation." More after this.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE an extraordinary lady, an old friend, Cristina Ferrare, the author of the new book -- get this title -- "Realistically Ever After: Finding Happiness When He's Not Prince Charming, You're Not Snow White and Life's Not a Fairy Tale."
Television personality, businesswoman, terrific lady, what is this all -- how did you come up with this idea?
CHRISTINA FERRARE, AUTHOR, "REALISTICALLY EVER AFTER": Well, Larry I have a lot of women come up to me all over, wherever I go, whether I'm in a grocery store or just walking down the street. And they all stop to talk to me. And they start telling me about their lives.
And I found a familiar thread that ran through it all, and they were saying, you know, "I'm at a certain age now. And life didn't quite turn out the way I had expected."
And I just thought it was really interesting. So I just sat down, and I -- And I said, "What are you expecting?"
"Well, you know, I expected that when I married my husband, then life was going to be like the fairy tale."
You know, you get married and they say "for better or for worse" but exactly what does that mean? Also, when I was a little girl, the fairy tales, they told you that you would live happily ever after, except nobody really tells you what happens after "happily ever after."
KING: So there is no -- there is no white horse. There is no prince?
FERRARE: I don't think there should be a prince. I think it's unfair for anybody to say, "OK. You make me happy. You -- I'm going to be with you now, and it's up to you to perform my dreams."
I think that's wrong. And I think a lot of women unfortunately go into that whole expectation of, "OK, I'm going to surrender and you make my life better for me."
And I just believe that unless you find happiness within yourself, you can't be a good wife, a good mother, or a friend, anybody to anyone unless you can find the happiness from within first. That's first and foremost.
And I think it's unfair to put that kind of responsibility on anyone. Because when you do that, you ultimately will end up disappointed, because no one is perfect.
KING: And you learned this yourself...
FERRARE: Except you, Larry.
KING: You learned it from trial and error, didn't you? I mean, you had ups and downs, certainly? FERRARE: Yes -- yes, I did. I thought I was going to be marrying my Prince Charming. Unfortunately, I bought into all the trappings that money and success, you know, could buy. And my -- my relationship was not based on knowing what I know now with my husband Tony of 20 years, what true commitment and honor is in a marriage.
So subsequently, when things went wrong, and they really went wrong, there was nothing really substantial to hold up this house of cards. It just collapsed.
KING: Did it help make the marriage to Tony better?
FERRARE: I think the kind of man that Tony is made the marriage better, because he really opened my eyes and helped me to be able to have an adult, strong relationship, based on a love and commitment and this special bond that we have between one another.
And -- but I sat down, really, to write the book to take everybody on a fairy tale interrupted, I call it, or the autobiographical journey of what happens when you're simply living life. Putting the harsh realities aside -- I acknowledge all the harsh realities in the book in the beginning. But then I take you on a journey of what it's like once Prince Charming falls off his horse.
And now you have two small kids, Larry, and I know you're going to be going on those fun-filled family vacations. And what happens when you go on those vacations? All the mishaps and all the fun things and all the not so fun things.
Raising teenagers. Your boys are going to be teenagers some day, and I want to know who these people are and why they're always so angry with you. That's one of the most difficult parts of, I think, being a parent.
And also, I also married a man who had children and what it's like to try to blend families together. I talk about the "Brady Bunch" syndrome. And that was very -- it was difficult. I'm not Carol Brady. I'm not perfect cute -- that cute or that perky or patient, for that matter. And that was difficult, too.
KING: So it's autobiographical and self-help?
FERRARE: Yes, it is. And I offer a lot, I think, a lot of sound advice, just from all the experiences that I've had, going through what I did. And I know that you'll be able to identify with what I say. Your viewing audience will be able to -- will recognize themselves in all the scenarios that I portray.
It's a very funny book. It's an easy read. And I enjoyed writing it. It was very cathartic. And I talk about the fear of failure, too, which a lot of women my age, they come up to me and they're afraid to go to the next step. Their children are leaving the house. "Now what do I do?"
And I call it the "what if?" syndrome. What if I'm not good at what I want to do? What if I fail? What if I can't make money at it? What if I'm not being supported by my friends and family?
And I just say, "You know what? Go for it." Even if you fail, failure is just opportunity disguised in disappointment. Own the disappointment. Cry about it. Get heavy, like I did, after I was up for "Regis" at one point, and I didn't get it. And I was very, very upset.
And of course, I did what -- you know, I ate my way through my misery. But I got a hold of myself, and I said, you know, I can't live my life like this. I have to use this as an opportunity to move to the next step, because I believe when God closes one door, he opens another.
It's what you do with that that will determine the outcome of your life. I decided to swim. I decided I started writing. I started a jewelry line. I started a home furnishing line. And all of these things came about from -- I didn't even know I was capable of doing it.
But because, when these opportunities came, I said, "You know what? I'm going to take it." And I found out I was good at it. I had the passion for it, and I went for it.
KING: Isn't commitment hard?
FERRARE: In marriage?
KING: Yes. In view of that, are you telling women to lower expectations?
FERRARE: No. No. You know what? Being married, having a committed relationship, is hard. It takes hard work. You don't marry, or you don't -- you're not in a relationship with a storybook character. You're in a relationship with a real person. And it takes work. And you're going to have good times, and you're going to have bad times. Sometimes all in the same day.
I just find that most people, when they get into the really -- the bad part of the relationship, they don't want to take the time to get through that difficult period. Or they figure, you know, OK, this is not working. I'm leaving.
I find that if you're truly committed in a relationship and you work at it, when you get through those bad periods, it only makes the bond stronger and makes it better.
I've been married for 20 years. It hasn't been perfect for 20 years. We've had our ups and our downs and our kids, and bad things happen and good things happen. But basically, underneath the commitment is there, our spirituality is there. And that's what makes the relationship work.
I just had an argument with Tony on the way over here. You know, this is life. This is what happens.
KING: Well, also, you -- you have a wonderful sense of humor. It keeps you going.
FERRARE: Well, thank...
KING: Look forward to seeing you back in Beverly Hills.
FERRARE: Thank you, Larry. And thank you so much for this opportunity. I'll see you back in L.A.
KING: Christina Ferrare. The book is "Realistically Ever After: Finding Happiness When He's Not Prince Charming, You're Not Snow White and Life's Not a Fairytale." Christina Ferrare, great lady.
More after this.
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Valerie Estess. She is the sister of the late Jennifer Estess, the cofounder with her sisters Jennifer and Meredith of Project ALS.
There's a remarkable new memoir out, "Tales from the Bed: On Living, Dying and Having it All," which was told to her by her dying sister, Jennifer. The forward to the book is by the good friend, Katie Couric of the "Today Show."
Valerie, how did this thing come about to publish this?
VALERIE ESTESS, CO-EDITOR, "TALES FROM THE BED": Well, Jennifer just decided to tell her story, and the only way she knew how, which was intimately, right at bedside. And my sisters Jennifer, Meredith and I just cuddled up on the bed, and we started talking and taking notes. And Jennifer put together this incredible memoir.
KING: When did she pass?
ESTESS: She died on December 16 at 5:30 in the morning.
KING: Now, most of the times -- maybe this is wrong -- we associate ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, with men. Is that wrong?
ESTESS: Well, you know, not that it's wrong, but the disease has been miscast over the years. It affects women. It affects young people. It affects -- it knows no ethnic boundaries. And there are plenty of young people dying from this disease right now.
KING: And it is, of course, not curable, right?
ESTESS: Not curable, but I think we're about to make a dent in it, Larry.
KING: Through stem cell?
ESTESS: Stem cells are a big part of the story. Gene therapy. Understanding the disease pathways or why ALS happens in the first place, obviously is key. But Project ALS, which is our organization, is -- is hot on the heels of answering all these questions. KING: How did Jennifer -- it's a terrible way to die, isn't it? You suffocate?
ESTESS: It is. I mean, quite frankly, it's probably the way most people die from ALS, because all of your voluntary muscles become paralyzed. And at the end, you can no longer breathe on your own. So, the muscles supporting your breathing go, as well.
KING: But your brain remains intact, right?
ESTESS: Yes, that's it. And that's why this book is so special, because Jennifer's mind was so sharp and alive up until the very end. And her story is really a story of life. It's not about her death or her giving in, it's not a story about letting go, it's a story about holding on and reaching.
So I think that the life of her mind is really apparent within these pages.
KING: How old was she?
ESTESS: She was 40. A little young.
KING: Was she married?
ESTESS: No, not. But dreaming of a husband and children. Her career was just taking off when she was diagnosed at the age of 35. And the disease just cut her down.
And I think one of the reasons the book is so powerful is because it was actually within the disease that she started taking chances in romance and in her work life that she hadn't taken before. So it was kind of interesting. That she achieved many of the goals she had set out to achieve as a girl when she was actually quite sick.
KING: How did you get Katie Couric involved?
ESTESS: Oh, boy. Well, that was kind of a love at first sight between Katie and Jennifer. Katie had come down to do a story for "Today" on Project ALS, and Jennifer and Katie just -- it was kismet. They just hit it off beautifully, and -- and became best girlfriends.
KING: And Katie had just recently lost a husband at that time, right?
ESTESS: That's right. She had lost her beloved husband to colorectal cancer, so I think that she and Jennifer shared a lot, I mean, from the get-go. And they became very, very close.
And Katie's done a huge amount for ALS awareness.
KING: Is the book all in the language of Jennifer?
ESTESS: It's -- it's all Jennifer's voice. And I think what it's telling people is that, regardless of their circumstances, if they've lost their heart in love, if they've lost their money in the market, whatever, that they can be all they can be, no matter the circumstances. That they can reach for their dreams.
KING: Were you taping her, Valerie?
ESTESS: Yes. We have tons of beautiful tapes. And we wrote from those tapes, yes.
KING: They say that people die as they live. Did she die well? By that, I mean bravely.
ESTESS: Well, that's the only way Jennifer knew. Everything about her was grace in motion, and beauty in motion. So I think death for her -- I can't speak for her, certainly, but I can only imagine that it was as graceful a passing as was her birth and life.
KING: What does Project ALS do?
ESTESS: Project ALS tries to kick the butts of scientists all over the world to attend to ALS and the related scourges of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, try to get some medicine to solve some of these brain diseases.
And, as you mentioned before, stem cells, gene therapy, these are some of the things that we ask scientists all over the world to focus on.
KING: How is it treated, by the way? Are there medications for ALS?
ESTESS: Sadly, although there is one FDA-approved drug for ALS, there's to date not one effective treatment for this disease, which is uniformly fatal. In other words, everyone who gets it dies from it.
KING: Is it a -- is it a form of multiple sclerosis?
ESTESS: You know, not a form of multiple sclerosis, but there may be some crossover with diseases like M.S. But it's more closely related to other more degenerative diseases, like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's.
KING: Do we know why she got it?
ESTESS: No. Don't have a clue. But the guess is that some people are genetically predisposed to ALS, as they are to other diseases, that there's some kind of a triggering event.
KING: And does that make you worry?
ESTESS: I had my worries, Larry, I have to say. I can turn to my sister's memory and get all the strength I need to plow forward so that we can put some medicine into place.
KING: How does Meredith deal with it?
ESTESS: Meredith is amazing. She -- she's a big Mama. She keeps us all going. She's the president of Project ALS. And she runs things, Meredith. And I think the book really speaks to her role as a young sister who also leads so beautifully.
KING: Great that Valerie (sic) can have a voice after she's gone. Hopefully, that voice will help others.
ESTESS: Yes, well, I hope so. Thank you so much.
KING: Thank you for Jennifer's life.
ESTESS: Thank you so much.
KING: The book is "Tales from the bed: On Living, Dying and Having it All," told to her dying sister by the late Jennifer Estess.
Be right back.
LARRY KING, HOST: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Howard Bingham, the principal photographer and editorial consultant to a great new book, "GOAT," G-O-A-T, the Greatest of All Time, a tribute to Muhammad Ali.
With his is Benedikt Taschen. Benedikt is the publisher of this historic book. And like Ali himself, this book is a heavyweight. I have it right here. It weighs about 70 pounds. It measures 20 by 20 inches, 780 pages, sells for more than $3,000. Somebody called it the ultimate coffee table book.
Benedikt, give me a little history. How did this come about?
BENEDIKT TASCHEN, PUBLISHER, "GOAT: A TRIBUTE TO MUHAMMAD ALI": Hello, Larry.
It's a love affair. Since I was a young boy, Ali was my hero. And later on, I -- the idea was grown (ph) to produce kind of a monument on paper, a book without a budget, literally, to make the biggest, most radiant thing printed on the guy, on earth.
So we worked with it for about four years, and it was probably -- yes, it was hard work. And what came out is this baby you've seen on the table.
KING: And how many have been published? How many actually released?
TASCHEN: There's -- the book is in a print run, a limited print run of 10,000 copies, which are all hand signed by Muhammad Ali and by Jeff Koons, who created an artwork which comes with each book. And this is a total print run, and this is a limited edition.
KING: And Howard Bingham, we know Howard a long time. He's the principle photographer and editor consultant to this book.
How long are you -- are you Muhammad Ali's personal photographer?
HOWARD BINGHAM, PHOTOGRAPHER, "GOAT: A TRIBUTE TO MUHAMMAD ALI": I am Ali's best friend. I just happened to be a photographer. And so -- but hanging around him, everybody, they began calling me his photographer. I'm his friend.
KING: How long have you been taking pictures of your friend?
BINGHAM: I've been -- I've been -- known Ali since 1962. I met him in Los Angeles when he came up there to fight a fight, a fighter by the name of George Logan, in March 1962.
Then again there in May '62 to fight another fight, Alexander Laborantzi (ph) and also in October, he fought Archie Moore. And so we had begun to be very, very good friends.
KING: Of the 3,000 photos in this book, Howard, how many are yours?
BINGHAM: I have about 450 in there, Larry. You know, I have the photos in there that -- that are -- that actually sat around since 1962 and end up four months ago in the book.
KING: Benedikt, you say you've been a fan since childhood. What, to you, was special and is special about our friend Muhammad who I also know since he won the Olympic gold medal? What -- what's special about him?
TASCHEN: Well, when I was a little boy, I'm grown up and born in Germany. And the Ali fight in the late '60s were the first that were (ph) broadcasted TV shows, I could say, next to the landing on the moon.
And I -- my memory in childhood was that my father woke us, my siblings and me, up in the middle of the night, and I was intrigued by him. I didn't understand why the guy has two names.
But what I did understand, that he was eloquent. He looked elegant. His boxing style was completely different. And somehow, he was a man who followed all my young -- my childhood, when I was a young adult. And later on when I saw the great documentary, "When We Were Kings."
And so for me it was like this. We did, five or six years ago, a big book on Helmut Newton (ph), which did, fortunately, quite well. And I had some time afterward, and I was thinking, "What can we do next?"
And so I thought, because this man, it should have been a kind of homage, love affair, to a man I truly admired all my life because of a variety of different reasons. And there was no one on earth who was portrait by the greatest photographers for two decades and the greatest writers.
And so we had the possibility to work with all these people, and most of them were still alive.
KING: And Howard, he was -- he transcended boxing, didn't he? I mean, he was larger, the best known figure in the world. He was -- he went way beyond sport.
BINGHAM: He's one of the most recognizable faces on earth, Larry, and not only is it known for boxing but just humanitarian things that he's done over years.
You know, as a matter of fact, in the 1996 Olympics, you know, he lit the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there in Atlanta. And so he didn't want to do it at first. I worked a whole year for that to happen.
And I've been on -- what happened was when the Olympic committee said that they wanted him to do it, I went to him, and he -- told him that they wanted him to do it. And he said no.
And he was mainly worried -- he was mainly worried about his hands shaking.
And I said, "Ali, this is the time in history where three and a half billion people are going to be thanking you for what you've done, what you have meant to everybody over the world. You have not lied to people. You've done what you said."
And you are -- it wasn't about money. It was just about him being him.
KING: He went, also, from one of the -- he went -- it was extraordinary, isn't it, Howard, that he goes from a very controversial figure -- a lot of people didn't like him -- to a loved figure in one lifetime.
BINGHAM: Exactly, Larry. That's right. Like a cat has nine lives, Ali has had about 13 or 14 lives. You know, the Muslims, the -- the wives, the women are just -- just everything, the Army. Just everything.
But you know, he's always -- he's always been up front with the people. He's never hid from anything.
And let me ask you this, Larry. Who else in history can you tell an 800-page book on like this and it will sell at this price? Who else in history right now that will warrant something like this?
KING: Nobody. We'll take a break and come back. Howard and Benedikt remain with us. And Bernie Yuman will join us, Muhammad Ali's manager. He also represents Siegfried and Roy and many other celebrities. His thoughts on the publication of "GOAT: The Greatest of All Time, a Tribute to Muhammad Ali."
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Ali, a sneaky right hand, another sneaky right hand. This time he works over the shoulder (UNINTELLIGIBLE). What an incredible scene. The place is going wild. Muhammad Ali has won. Muhammad Ali has won by a knock down, by a knock down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In London, Howard Bingham, the principle photographer and editorial consultant of this extraordinary book and Benedikt Taschen, its publisher, remains with us.
Joining the panel now in Miami is Bernie Yuman. Bernie is Muhammad Ali's manager. He also represents Siegfried and Roy and many other celebrities.
How did you and Ali behind together, Bernie?
BERNIE YUMAN, MUHAMMAD ALI'S MANAGER: Larry, that's kind of a long story. I met Muhammad Ali when I was 13 years old, running on a golf course in Miami Beach in 1962. And it's been a great run.
KING: What do you make of this book?
YUMAN: I think that this is the quintessential, definitive piece ever done on Muhammad Ali, the Taschen book. And I compliment Benedikt Taschen for his quality and his ability as an artist. Because really, more so than a publisher, he is indeed an artist.
And this is a book that will be not only for the enjoyment of the lucky people that get to have a copy of it, but also so that it can be passed down, literally from generation to generation.
This book is -- is the reference. In 250 years from today, Larry, when people want to know who he was and what he meant to the global community, this book will be that reference. It is, indeed, beat by beat every moment of his personal and his professional life. It is the singularly most comprehensive piece of work ever done on any person in history.
KING: Benedikt, is -- where do you get all...
TASCHEN: Of course, if you could read the Bible.
KING: And the Bible is a good word.
Benedikt, where do you -- is the book available in a lot of bookstores?
TASCHEN: Yes, it's all over in America in Barnes and Noble or in many independent bookshops or Anderson. And as well in special, high- end fashion retail shops like Barney's or Macy's.
KING: And back to you, Bernie. We've asked this of others. How did Ali become larger than sport?
YUMAN: I think that Ali would tell you, Larry, that when he became a Muslim in 1964, and he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and he decided to go to fight in places where -- where really heavyweights had never gone before -- Manila; Malaysia; Zaire; Seoul, Korea; Tokyo; Hong Kong; all over Europe -- Ali became a global citizen. And as Lonnie Ali always says, "When Ali walks out the front door, he no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the people of the world."
There's literally four billion people that know his name and his likeness, and as well as being revered and beloved and perhaps the most recognizable man on the face of the planet, he also is the only living American icon in the 21st Century.
KING: I can also say from a personal standpoint you can't -- you can't have a better friend than Muhammad Ali. No one would know that better than Howard Bingham, right? If he's your friend, you've got a friend for life.
BINGHAM: For life. And he is the world's friend, Larry. He loves people. He loves everybody.
KING: What is he like as a photographic subject?
BINGHAM: He is the most easy -- he's the most easy subject that anyone could ever, ever want for. He's -- he's -- what's the word?
BINGHAM: He's accessible. He's...
BINGHAM: He's -- the faces, in the old days. Oh, yes, photogenic. He's -- he's everything. He's a handsome individual. What they say, that he was a photographer's dream.
KING: How has the disease, Benedikt, do you think, affected his -- do you think it might have affected -- that he can't go out and promote this book?
TASCHEN: He can. And he did...
BINGHAM: He does.
TASCHEN: He does. Of course, he can't talk too much.
TASCHEN: When we researched for the book, what I have to tell is that he was of highly valuable help for all the captions we had to do on these 3,000 images. And he knows everything, whether it's from '62 or from '94 or wherever.
So it's just the ability of his speech, which is difficult to understand at the beginning but much easier after awhile.
BINGHAM: Sometimes -- sometimes it is difficult for him to understand. But you know, I was with him last Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when -- when he received an award from Queen Noor. And he got up there and talked for about 15 minutes. He started out to say (ph), "My bicycle was stolen when I was 12 years old." And went on to say he won the Golden Gloves in the Olympics, and then he got married.
And it was just wonderful. Everybody just understood. He had his eyes closed and he was just thinking. It was wonderful.
KING: And Bernie, also...
KING: Even though Ali's speech -- hang on one second, Howard. When, Bernie, he speaks, because it's sometimes hard to understand, people think that his mind is slow, Bernie. His mind is as active as ever.
YUMAN: Exactly, Larry. It should be noted that his mind is sharp as a tack. You know, it's a debilitating disease, Parkinson's, but there's many debilitating that people are made to endure, whether it's cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, but the mind is exactly perfect.
Ali calls all of us down, Lonnie Ali, Howard Bingham, myself. We have a great team. Holland Warner, Ron DiNicola (ph), Ron Twiel (ph), all the great people at "GOAT," at you know, in Bayonne Springs (ph), Michigan. He calls all of us down on the nuances of deals or what his thoughts are. And that's a daily occurrence.
It should be noted, also, that the compilation of all the great photographers that comprised the Taschen book on Ali. It interesting that Howard Bingham, who professes to be Ali's friend and is Ali's best friend and vice versa, is so humble as a photographer that even here on this program it's hard for him to really recognize his work.
And by that I mean that most of the photographers that capture Ali captured the public Ali. They captured Ali in the ring. They captured Ali speaking at the commencement ceremony at Harvard University. The captured Ali at Mecca. They captured Ali in many different circumstances around the world.
But Howard Bingham is the only person, and really a terrific photographer, a very talented photographer, who got behind the scenes, who got the family, who got the real, the personable Ali. The person that nobody ever really saw is that person that Howie Bingham documented.
KING: It is -- it's a brilliant book, Bernie, and I'm glad that Roy -- I'm glad Roy of Siegfried and Roy is doing so well. We hope to see him later in the year. We salute.
YUMAN: They asked me -- they asked me to compliment Benedikt Taschen on naming this book, Larry, because GOAT, the greatest of all time, according to Roy and Siegfried, is the very best name you could possibly have for this book. KING: You're not kidding. Thank you all very much. Bernie Yuman in Miami, Howard Bingham and Benedikt Taschen in London. The book is "GOAT: The Greatest of All Time, A Tribute to Mohammed Ali." You'd be honored to have it in your home.
Back after this.
KING: I just read an extraordinary memoir. In fact, one of the best bios I've ever read, called "Inside: A Public and Private Life." And it's written by my friend, Joe Califano, who held key positions in the Kennedy, Johnson and Carter administrations, represented the Democratic Party in the "Washington Post" during Watergate and founded the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
Why did you finally decide to write this, Joe?
JOSEPH CALIFANO, AUTHOR, "INSIDE: A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LIFE": I raised my kids, Larry. I wanted my kids and my grandchildren to understand what an incredible country this is.
Larry, look, you and I both grew up in Brooklyn. My mother was a schoolteacher. My father was a secretary. I knew nobody when I went to Washington. And I look at what happened to me.
And secondly, I wanted to have a sense of how important my faith was, being a Catholic it was a big thing for me. Very important in steering me into public life.
And thirdly, I just wanted them to know a little bit about courage, how important courage was. I mean, Kay Grain's (ph) courage at the "Washington Post." And if I'd made a mistake as a lawyer or Ben Bradley had made a mistake as the editor, we'd go on to the next client or the next paper. But that would keep everything on the line, our whole family, our whole fortune.
So I wanted to give the world, the kids, a real sense of...
KING: Also, I might tell the viewers. You are a wonderful writer. Have you written a lot in your life?
CALIFANO: I have. I've written a lot of op-eds. This is actually the tenth book I've written. And really, I look at all those other books were really to get me to the place where I could write this book and make it readable and interesting.
KING: Also very honest. You can take -- you self-criticize, as well.
CALIFANO: Well, sure. I mean, I made plenty of mistakes. I mean, in my life I tried to play some of that out. I mean, you know, as we both know, President Carter fired me over the smoking issue.
But I try to analyze, you know, what did I do that might have brought that on? My own relations with the Washington press corps and what have you. Tried to get a sense of -- we all make mistakes, especially in public life.
KING: It's a terrific read. And by the way, what insight into Lyndon Johnson. There'll never be another one like him, right?
CALIFANO: There never will. Look, the first time I met him.
Larry, Then he said and I want a fair Well, the people of black white, first of all, on the -- on the -- in the -- at the ranch he's in the pool. He said, "Come on in." Moves to the deep end of the pool. He's 6'3" and standing. I'm 5'10" and treading water.
And he starts pushing on my shoulder. And he says now, "Well, the transportation in this country is a mess. I want to Transportation Department. Pushed me down.
Then he said, "We want to rebuild the city," push me down again. Well, the people are black, white, yellow, green, brown. They ought to be able to live wherever they want.
Bushing me down -- Can you do that?
- Not having any idea how.
But that weekend, which was the weekend I met him, we came back to the White House. We're on the South Lawn of the White House. We ran to the helicopter and I'm just walking away, he says -- He said, "Joe," he says, "You were way up in your class at Harvard Law School.
I said yes, Mr. President. I want to tell you something. What you learned on the streets of Brooklyn will be a hell of a lot more valuable to your president than anything you learned in law school.
KING: Did you love John Kennedy?
CALIFANO: I love -- yes. I mean, John Kennedy was the person that got me into the government, really. That's what inspired me. He was -- all the Catholics were anti-communist.
You know, both he and Johnson had a sense of humor which is, for a tough politician in politics, is very important. I mean, the darkest days in the John Years, Larry, were when Martin Luther King was assassinated and they had me move -- the president had to be moved into the White House after that. And I would bring him every hour an executive order sent through CIA or reports on what was going on.
And one night I got this report from the FBI. It said Stokely Carmichael, you remember Stokely?
KING: I do.
CALIFANO: Stokely Carmichael is organizing a mob at 14th and Hugh to march on Washington and burn it down. President look at this and read it and, you know, Georgetown, march on Georgetown and burn it down. In Georgetown where all those columnists, all those liberal columnists, all those TV guys lived that drove Johnson crazy.
And he read this thing, and he said, "Dan," he said, "I've waited 35 years for this night."
KING: Right. Well, your memory serves you, but you -- you, the tobacco industry hated you. You had signs about you. Billboards in North Carolina. Why did Carter fire you?
CALIFANO: Well, you know, he had to to, you know, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, all passed resolutions urging my impeachment. To run for reelection, you know, he was worried about carrying those states. And even Connecticut, where they made cigars, and even Georgia they talked about it.
You know, they felt so bad. Tip O'Neill called me up once to the House. And he used to call me Joseph. He said, "Joseph, these tobacco guys hate you." He said, "They're capable of killing you."
And I wrote that off as kind of a conspiratorial side of Tip, that Irish conspiracy paranoia. And then years later, when Jeffrey Wiegand (ph) blew the whistle on Brown and Williamson, found a bullet in his post office box, I began to wonder about it.
KING: And you also, of course, write elegantly about our late, dear friend, Edward Bennett Williams, your law firm...
CALIFANO: Well, he and I were partners. We had a wonderful time. You know, the most wonderful moment, at the height of Watergate. You remember, I filed a lawsuit against the Nixon Committee to Reelect the President.
KING: I remember it well.
CALIFANO: And that started to help with Woodward and Bernstein unravel this thing. And then Fitzsimmons, the head of the Teamsters came to see Ed. The Teamsters were about 25 percent of our law business then. We had about 20 lawyers in the firm.
And they said to Ed, "I don't think the Teamsters should be represented in a firm that has a partner that brings this frivolous lawsuit."
And Ed called me down to the office, and he said -- tells me this story and the Teamsters paid 25, 30 percent of our profits. Democrats paying nothing, and we were -- I don't even know if we got our expenses. And Ed tells me this story, and I don't know what he's going to do.
And he said, "You know, years ago, Frank Costello came to me to ask me to argue his appeal to the Supreme Court in his deportation case. And at one point, he said, 'Are you the Williams that represented Senator Joe McCarthy?' And I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Well, I'm not sure I want to be represented.'" And Ed said, "I said to him, 'Mr. Costello, nobody tells me who our clients are.'" And Costello still took him.
And Ed turned to me and he said, "Joe, nobody tells us who our clients are."
CALIFANO: Two days later, Fitzsimmons jerked all the Teamster business out of the firm, and we kept on representing the Democrats for nothing. That's the kind of guy he was.
KING: And Joe, when next we meet and have you come on, we're going to talk about the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, which consumes all your time now, right?
CALIFANO: It does. I mean, I think this is -- substance abuse is the biggest problem in this country, whether it's tobacco, alcohol or drugs, pills, whatever age. This is largely about kids. If we can get our kids to age 21 without smoking or using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, they're almost certain to be home free. And that's what we try to do.
KING: Thank you, Joe. Great seeing you.
CALIFANO: Larry, great seeing you.
KING: He's an American hero, and folks, this is a great book. The book is "Inside: A Public and Private Life" with Joseph Califano.
I'll be right back.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. See you tomorrow night. Good night.