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Remembering Anthony Quinn by His Art

Aired March 19, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, ANCHOR, LARRY KING LIVE: I hold in my hand an extraordinary book. It's "Anthony Quinn's Eye: A Lifetime of Creating and Collecting Art." It's an incredible book written by a collection of three writers with a forward by Katherine Quinn. The widow of Anthony Quinn, who passed away in 2001, still lives in the house they lived in together in Rhode Island. Anthony Quinn, a frequent guest on this show.
It's hard to believe it's four years.


KING: He died peacefully, did he? Anthony did nothing peacefully.

QUINN: He did nothing peacefully.

No, it was -- he died -- everybody thinks he died peacefully because he didn't want anyone to know that he was sick. He -- we actually knew he had a tumor in his lung.

KING: Oh, it wasn't heart disease?

QUINN: No, no, it was a tumor in his lung. We were in Minneapolis, and he was doing a TV interview and he lost his voice, and we thought he had laryngitis. And so he had a doctor come to try and restore his voice, and they found out that his vocal cords were paralyzed, or one of his vocal cords was paralyzed.

And they said, well, there's go to be something that's obstructing the vocal cord that's causing it to be paralyzed, and so we went to have it analyzed.

KING: It turned out to be cancer.

QUINN: It turned out to be a tumor, which he had had two years prior, but they removed it successfully and he never had the recurrence. But this came back.

And then it caused a whole lot of problems. The tumor itself was small, the size of a pea, but it was pressing on his vocal cords, which caused him to have no voice. And then it was pressing on his esophagus, which caused him not to be able to swallow properly.

KING: We all assumed it was heart surgery. He was on this show about the heart. You met him -- before we discuss this extraordinary book, he was 70 and you were 23. I remember that because he told me about meeting you. I had lunch with him, and he was in love with you immediately. The same with you?

QUINN: Same.

KING: He was married at the time, right?

QUINN: He was married at the time.

KING: How did you deal -- now you have two children with him. How did you deal with all of that?

QUINN: Well, I mean he was married at the time. When I -- I think the first week I met him, we were married to each other emotionally and spiritually. I mean, I knew that he was the most important, most unusual person I'd ever met in my life. And there was always something missing in my life.

I had a wonderful life, a wonderful childhood, very happy, but when I met Tony, I knew that that's the kind of person I was looking for.

And we grew together. If there were ever two people that were meant to be together it was us.

KING: Did you work for him?

QUINN: I worked for him.

KING: Yes, I remember that.

QUINN: I was his assistant.

KING: You were his assistant.

QUINN: And we used to spend a lot of time -- he would paint.

And he didn't want me to go -- he didn't want me to go on the road with him. He was going -- he was leaving to do the play, "Zorba." And he said, "You're not coming on the road with me." And I said, "Why? I want to be with you." And he said, "No, it would ruin our relationship." He said, "I want you to be here, and I want you to help me organize my life, I want you to get to know me better."

I really didn't know anything about him. I didn't know him -- I didn't know his movies.



KING: You were too young.

QUINN: I guess my family wasn't really a movie family.

KING: Did you look and say to yourself, "This age difference is going to be too much?"

QUINN: It never even occurred to me. It wasn't -- there was never an issue about age, because he was a fascinating, interesting human being, and he just -- I think a relationship with somebody -- he pulled out things in me that I never knew I had. He made me want to be a better, greater person. He wanted me to -- and I saw what a -- as I found out how famous he was -- which I never realized, and I think that was actually helpful in the beginning, because if I knew how famous he was, I probably would have been more in awe and not able to relate to him as personally as I did.

KING: So you can't -- there's no follow-up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) any more, who are you going to meet in your life? That's a...

QUINN: That's a big problem.

KING: That must be some burden in a sense. Who's going to...

QUINN: It's not a burden, because I carry with me this great spiritual -- I don't need to find anyone because I feel those -- I spent 16 years with him, almost 17 years.

KING: How much of Tony do you think we can see? We know him from his films and theater. How much can we see in his art that is Tony?

QUINN: A tremendous amount. He used to say, "That's how I want to be remembered, by my art."

He loved the fact that somebody would buy his sculpture and they'd come back to him years later and say, "You know, that inspires me every day, that sculpture in my home. I love to live with it in my house." And he said, "That's me in there home. I created something."

People think -- you know, a lot of actors, a lot of singers they paint or they create art work as a hobby, but for him it was a passion way before he was even an actor. He was either painting at home -- it's in the book -- and he did it when he was 16 years old.

KING: He used to paint pictures of movie stars.

QUINN: He used to pain little sketches of movie stars. And my...

KING: And sell them to them.

QUINN: My son does that now. He paints -- he sketches peoples faces. He sits in restaurants, and he sketches waiters and he gives them -- and he likes to give away his drawings.

KING: In fact he told me once, I asked him, "Are you an actor who paints or a painter who acts?" He says, "I'm an artist who acts." He was first an artist.

QUINN: He is. He was first an artist.

KING: How did this book, this extraordinary book come about? QUINN: I didn't think there were enough people who knew that he was first an artist and what an artist he was. Not only an artist, but a collector.

I was asked to do an exhibition of his work, and the people who asked me to do the exhibition, they said, "Can you send us a few photographs, little photographs (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sizes." I said, "There's really a tremendous amount. You have to come and see it at the house."

And so they brought over a crew and, you know, five or six people to see whether it was -- whether there was enough to have an exhibition, and they were all beside themselves. They said, "There's so much here. How can we even begin?"

And to my great fortune, there was present at that meeting a genus of a graphic designer, Malcolm Greer, who designed the Olympic torch for the Atlanta Olympics.

He felt so close to Tony's collection. He said, "You know, you can't exhibit his work only, because everything in this house is part of what he created. You can see it in his art work and in what he collected. It relates to each other." And it was his idea to tie them both in the exhibition.

The exhibition never worked out. So I went to him and I said, "Let's do a book." And we started that challenge and...

KING: Tony would have loved it.

QUINN: I hope so.

KING: We'll be right back with Katherine Quinn.

The book is, "Anthony Quinn's Eye" -- a great title -- "A Lifetime of Creating and Collecting Art."

So don't go away.


ANTHONY QUINN, ACTOR: Soft and warm and sweet smelling. So I say to myself, "Zorba, you are in paradise. Enjoy it."




KING: Do you get as much enjoyment out of painting as you do acting?

ANTHONY QUINN: No, I think more. I was in Libya once and I went out in the dessert and I saw these miles and miles, miles of sculptures in bronze and stone scattered around the dessert. The Phoenicians have been there, the Greeks have been there, the Romans have been there and left them there in the sand. And those were absolutely gorgeous. One...

KING: Been there forever.



KING: We're talking with Katherine Quinn.

It's hard to believe someone this young is a widow, but she's the widow of the former actor, Anthony Quinn, AND we're talking about "Anthony Quinn's Eye: A Lifetime of Creating and Collecting."

He was quite a collector too. He owned some famous pieces of art.

QUINN; A lot of famous pieces.

KING: They're in the book too.

QUINN: They're in the book. And as far -- he didn't collect because they were famous pieces. He collected -- and that's why the book is so interesting, because he collected because something about what he bought fascinated him.

His -- he learned from this collecting. That's how he taught himself how to paint, how to sculpt from what he collected.

KING: Also he was a Mexican poor kid, right?

QUINN: Mexican poor kid. He grew up with nothing. And even his first piece that he collected (UNINTELLIGIBLE) horse, was an amazing story, because he had no money.

And he used to have 5 or 10 cents a day just to take -- he had to take -- he had choose to either take the trolley or to have lunch. And so that's what -- he would have to decide whether to eat or take the trolley or walk. And...

KING: And he had an egg collection, right?

QUINN: He had an egg collection. The egg collection, the colors of the eggs fascinated him, the colors of the stones.

He never collected for the value, because he thought that the art world was very phony in that sense where it places $70 million on a painting. He said, "If it doesn't move you, there's no point in having it. Don't buy it because it's -- because it may be worth $7 million."

KING: His work sold for a lot of money.

QUINN: His work sold for a lot of money, and hopefully they will continue to. People say they sold for a lot of money because of his celebrity, and then when a celebrity dies that -- not -- that his legacy doesn't necessarily continue. But his will, because he was an artist. It was something -- a passion of his. KING: And he's buried where you live.

QUINN: He's buried in my backyard. And I designed a beautiful garden around his grave. It's not a sad garden. It's a wonderful, happy...

KING: Do you talk to him?

QUINN: Yes, I talk to him all the time.

KING: He was never dull, was he?

QUINN: There wasn't a dull moment.


ANTHONY QUINN: Da-dum, da-dum, da-da-da-dum, da-dum. If you were dumb, if you don't find something mad in you, you'll never find it.


QUINN: He was passionate.

You know what drove him crazy? People -- people wasted his time.

KING: Yes, I know.

QUINN: And he would say, "You're taken 12 minutes out of my time with my children," if they made him wait, unless it was a movie. And then he -- I never saw anybody wait so patiently.

KING: He marinated, as Jackie Gleason would have said. He didn't act; he marinated.

QUINN: He would sit on the set, and I just couldn't believe how someone could sit and wait to shoot a scene. But if it was something that was supposed to be done at 10 and somebody showed up at 10:15, he'd say, "You just took 15 minutes away from my life with my children, and you better make it happen fast, sir." And people were shocked.

KING: Do you have a favorite piece or a painting?

QUINN: I have so many favorite pieces.

KING: His self portraits were extraordinary.

QUINN: Well, what I'm doing now is, I've built a new house, and now I have to decide what pieces to bring over there, because the house won't fit everything I have in the house I live in now.

KING: Do you have a favorite or it's hard to do?

QUINN: It's really hard. It's really -- his self-portraits. He sold most of his self-portraits.

KING: He was a great sculptor, too, a great sculptor. QUINN: And he chose some beautiful stones from all over the world.

KING: Did you watch him work?

QUINN: I always worked with him. I used to mix his paints, I used to clean his brushes. We worked together.

And when the children were born, they would watch and they would paint with him. They would have their time with poppa painting. So they -- I'd say, you know, "Come on, Antonia, go and watch TV or go sit with" -- we didn't have a nanny. We never had a nanny or baby sitters, and he'd say, "No, no, let her come in here. Let her come in here."

And he would control it in a certain sense and say, "Pick out five colors." So she would pick out her five favorite colors, and he'd put them in a palate for her. And then he'd say, "OK, now sit down on the floor," and she'd paint a painting.

And sometimes he would even let them paint on top of his paintings and then he'd paint on top of that. And they'd paint together. So they could...

KING: He always told me children were the best painters, the best actors because they had no inhibitions.

QUINN: He didn't want them to go to school and learn how to paint. He said don't send them to art school. Never send them to art school because then they'll start to feel -- they'll start losing their talent. And he loved the creations.

Now, there's one story I tell in the book of when Antonia was young she would do a scribble, very young. I mean less than a year old, and he would take that scribble and say, "This is a beautiful painting, look." And he would just draw one line and it would become this face. And I said, "Wow, that's incredible."

But when Ryan was born, I'd say he was about 2 years old, and he did a scribble and Tony did that. He said, "Oh, my gosh, Ryan this is a dancing man." He drew this wonderful line around the thing and he made this dancing man. And Ryan started crying, he's say, "Poppa, that wasn't a dancing man; that was a race car."

And he realized -- he said, "I shouldn't tell them what they're drawing. He knew what he was drawing and he has a strong" -- and so he stopped doing that.

But I have a whole series of paintings that Antonia did and he and Antonia did together, and he signed then A.A. Quinn, and then they had an exhibition.

At one of his exhibitions he said, "I want to put a wall of her..."

KING: How are they doing, the kids?

QUINN: They're doing great. They....

KING: How old are they now?

QUINN: Eight and eleven. They're adjusting to live with one parent pretty well.

KING: Do you want them to have a father?

QUINN: No, no. They have a father. They have a father. They have his spirit, and that's the only father they'll ever have.

KING: How many of these did they published?

QUINN: Ten thousand.

KING: It's an incredible book. It's just -- he was so sexy. There's no other way to...

QUINN: It was not -- it was a sad -- it was a -- his spirit. It wasn't a sexy, physical kind of sexy that had kind of to do with sex. It was just his passion for living, for every minute of the day, for everything he did, for every person he touched.

He would meet somebody. We'd get in a taxi in New York and it would take...

KING: He'd talk to the cab driver.

QUINN: He'd talked to the cab driver, but it -- whether it was someone from New York or someone from Turkey or someone from Libya they adored him.

You know, these people from the Middle East would -- one Iranian kissed his hand and said, "Mr. Quinn, when I grew up you were our hero."

KING: Thank you, Katherine.

QUINN: Thank you.

KING: Katherine Quinn, the wife of Anthony Quinn. The book, "Anthony Quinn's Eye: A Lifetime of Crating and Collecting Art." It was published late last year and it is a brilliant book.

More after this.


ANTHONY QUINN, ACTOR: I carry 23 great wounds all got in battle; 75 men have I killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemies tents, I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure, yet I am poor because I am a river to my people. Is that service?"


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, an old friend, the world famed artist Peter Max, pop culture icon. He's been called the United State's painter laureate, hasn't been on this program in 12 years.

A prolific, profitable artist, he's been licensed to dozens of corporations, has had more than 50 one-man shows, was official artist for six Grammy Awards, five Super Bowls, the World Cup USA 2000 World Series, Earth Day, the U.N. Earth Summit, and of course, his most -- not only being prolific, but has an extraordinary way with color.

How did you find that?

PETER MAX, ARTIST: Larry, color and creativity just happen to me.

I grew up in China and always drew, and always used to set up in my three balconies in our pagoda house, and she used to say, "There's paints over here, there's color pencils over here and there's color papers over here. Now you go make a big mess, paint whatever you want, we will clean up after you" -- compared to telling a kid don't make a mess and what are you going to paint?

And in China, I think the colors is where I discovered -- that's where I discovered it.

KING: You were born in Germany.

MAX: Born in Berlin. My father was in the import/export business. We moved to Shanghai.

KING: Got out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hitler out.

MAX: Kind of like that. We were there luckily when all this stuff happened.

And the most beautiful things is to live up -- to live in a country that's 8,000 years old, you know, a culture that's 8,000 years old. It's unbelievable.

KING: And then you wound up at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn. So how did you get from Shanghai to Brooklyn?

MAX: Well, we went from Shanghai to India, from India to Italy, from Italy to Israel, from Israel to Paris. I studied at the Louvre, and then I wound up in Brooklyn, same high school you went to.

And I remember the first time we went to a reunion I said, "Larry...

KING: "Peter."

MAX: ...what are you doing here?"

KING: How did you get -- what was your entry into the world of art? How did we get to know Peter Max?

MAX: You know what happened? I went to an art school, and I studied realism, like, Rembrandt and John Singer Sargeant, and everywhere I looked for work, whether it was in galleries or even advertising agencies, everybody would say to me, "Peter we need realism. We just get photography." And so I did something that today we can call, like, I reinvented myself. I didn't know those words back then. I just started drawing planets because I always was interested...

KING: Planets?

MAX: Planets, astronomy.

I wanted to become an astronomer, but what happened was, a friend of mine asked me to go to art school. So I went to art school one day, and I loved it, I fell in love with it. And when I started drawing the planets and the sampans and the zen boats and all of the things from Asia, it suddenly had the look and the backdrop of...

KING: But did somebody write about you? How did you get known?

MAX: I started doing projects, and I started winning awards and art directors wanted to hire me so they could get piggy backed on my awards.

KING: And ad agencies...

MAX: Ad agencies, and I had work in museums and galleries and ad agencies, I went in all three directions, not knowing which way to go.

And in the first two years I had won 48 awards and my stuff was all over the place. And by the time I was in my middle to late 20s I was on the cover of "Life" magazine, eight color pages. I was shocked. I thought that "Life" magazine was reserved for, like, Eisenhower or Churchill, Truman.

KING: You were an industry too. There were Peter Max sheets, Peter Max pillows, right?

MAX: Yes, yes.

KING: How did -- companies got involved with you.

MAX: Well, what happened, one day General Electric called up and said, "Are you Peter Max?" I said yes. He said, "Are you the artist with the posters?" I said that's me. He says, "Well, we're General Electric. We'd like to do some electric clocks."

And I immediately called up my mother, and I said "General Electric called me." And she goes, "Sweetie Pie, go after it. It's very, very nice."

So anyhow, we did clocks. And then before I knew it, Larry, I was into -- 72 corporations had licensed my stuff, over a billion one in three-and-a half years. It was 1967.

KING: Which caused the art establishment to scorn you.

MAX: A little bit...

KING: Because you were set apart. MAX: I became very, very commercial and successfully, but at the same time, close to over 100 museum shows.

So -- and today you have to be in media. It was an early time for me to be in media, but today every artist wants to be in media.

KING: Did you resent it?

MAX: No, no. I love the art world. I'm in hundreds of galleries. I'm in hundreds of museums. I love it.

I just was in the forefront of all of it. You know, I was able to get my work out where people don't even know how to do it today.

Many times when I go to art gallery shows, young students come up and say, "How do you do it?" And I always tell them, "Draw a lot. You get a friend to represent you...

KING: Why do critics tend to put down people like you and Leroy Neiman?

MAX: Not so much. It used to be maybe in the late '60s and early '70s. You know the art establishment wanted to be very, very pure. But today if you're in media, they think it's not as pure as if you were just a pure artist.

I did not want to be hanging just one piece of art in some gallery on some back wall and in another city with another piece of art. I wanted to be out there the same time when the Beatles were out there.

KING: How did the poster thing start?

MAX: That was amazing.

KING: Was it the love poster?

MAX: It was love poster. And I was printing a poster for a restaurant I had designed, and the man who owned the printing plant said to me, "Young man" -- I'm on top of the press doing my color blends -- he said to me, "Are you the artist?" As I climbed off the press I said to the man, I said, "Mr. Stein, how are you?" (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And I said, "You know, there's a poster revolution coming my way, our way, the size of six locomotives. I would love to do some posters. Would you be my partner?" He says, "Put it in here." We shook hands. He said, "50/50." I said, "50/50," and in the next nine months we sold 7 million posters.

It was a shock to me. I'd never sold anything more than two pieces.

KING: And a poster sold for what?

MAX: $2. They were printed back then for 7\6 cents a piece. They wholesaled them for $1. They sold -- it was sort of the MTV for their generation, there was no MTV. Today you're lucky if you can buy a poster like this on e-Bay from the late '60s for $2,000 unsigned.

KING: Where are the originals? There had to be an original painting, right?

MAX: Most of the posters were -- the original was done right on the press. I would climb on top of the press. I would have six different plates, and I would color blend every plate, you know, so they're all original. Every post was an original print.

KING: How did the love thing come about?

MAX: One day somebody, you know, love was the big thing for the '60s, and one day I was late at night, listening to the Beatles music, and I just did the L-O-V-E and suddenly I had my own...

KING: You were listening to the Beatles.

MAX: Listening to the Beatles.

KING: How did the patriot -- you get involved in Statue of Liberties, commemorative things for the country.

MAX: You know what happened? In 1976, when the bicentennial happened, I was sitting up -- I live on the Hudson River, and we have about 26 windows facing the window and I had a different art thing on every window and I painted tall ships. And when the tall ships came by, they were very, very small. They weren't as tall or as big as some of the freighters that go by, sort of like maybe cross around two, three windows.

So what I did is, I said I'm not doing the tall ships anymore. I did two or three sketches, and I saw very large cameras on the side of the wall, eight foot tall and four foot wide, and I said I'm going to paint the Statue of Liberty today. And I painted the Statue of Liberty on July 4th, 1976. In '77 I painted two and then so forth.

By the time it was hard to paint six, which was 1981, one day I come through the circular stairwell down to my other floor, and Mimi my assistant says to me, "Peter, it's the First Lady on the phone." I said, "You must be kidding. I can't believe it."

And it was Carol McCain. She said to me, "Hold on for the First Lady." It was Nancy Reagan. She said, "Peter, we love your work. The president loves your colors. I love your color. Are you still painting the Liberties every year? And aren't you up to six this year?"

And I was shocked. How would she know that I'm doing six?

I later found out that the people from Carter stayed over towards (ph) Reagan and told her.

KING: She still loves this.

MAX: Yes

KING: ...all the time.

We'll be right back with more of Peter Max right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Peter Max, our guest, does a lot of wonderful charitable work too. He did the trademark of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. He's doing stuff for the multiple sclerosis -- for Nancy Davis' multiple sclerosis, doing a lot of charity work.

MAX: I love doing charities. You know, I once brought a swami to America, Sashi Danando (ph), who you had on your show many, many years ago.

KING: Never forgot him.

MAX: And because -- when you study yoga you learn about one thing. There's a line out called, "Love all, serve all." And that meant that you've got to serve people all the time. And I started doing charities. I started giving art away and selling art and proceeds going -- we do now 1,200 charities a year in the studio. And I love doing charities because it's like the purpose of living.

KING; You paint every day?

MAX: Every single day I paint.

KING: ...portraits here. Now you've painted Gorbachev, painted six American presidents, the Dali Lami, Mohammed Ali. Is it harder to do people you know?

MAX: No, I love doing portraits. And I loved doing your portrait once. Do you remember that?

KING: Yes.

MAX: It was very nice.

I am very lucky. When I did the "40 Gorbies" I was in Russia, and I had a big show in Russia. So I wanted to commemorate Russia for their perestroika by painting the Gorbies. So I decided to do a series of portraits. And I was going to do a poster for the portraits. So I was going to call the poster, the Portraits of Gorbachev. I didn't like the way that sounded. Maybe the Gorbachev portraits, the installation, I didn't like it.

Then suddenly I came up with "40 Gorbies." So I did a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of 40 and he loved it. He loved the portraits. So does Raisa. It was unbelievable.

KING: You do a lot of those multiple things.

MAX: I love doing multiples. It's sort of goes back to when I was a young kid in China collecting stamps. I always liked the same stamp in different colors. I like to see the portraits in maybe 16 different colors.

KING: Do you like big things, murals? MAX: Oh, I do, murals. I did the Woodstock stage not too long ago for Michael Lang (ph) in 1999. It's almost 800 feet wide and eight stories tall.

KING: You did the 9/11 memorial poster, right?

MAX: I did the 9/11 memorial poster. People go to and we raised over a million dollars for the 9/11 projects and for the Pentagon fund.

And I did the Pentagon memorial fund, and I got to paint all the portraits of all the people who died, all the firemen who died.

First I thought it's too much of an undertaking. How am I ever going to paint 356 portraits? I started painting two here, three there, and it took me six months, I got all 356 done. It was unbelievable.

KING: What did you think of Christos' Orange Gates?

MAX: It was really interesting. I thought it brought art back to the city. The city needed art. I doesn't matter what it is as long as you get a nice bit of art every once in a while.

This is the center of art in the world. You've got the greatest museums here, and you've got some of the greatest artists living here. So it's a fantastic thing that he did.

KING: Did you like the color?

MAX: I liked the color. It had the saffron color. It reminded me of the swamis.

KING: You were never the vision of the tortured artist, were you?

MAX: I never was.

KING: I never pictured you (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MAX: I was always afraid -- you know, my father always made sure, he said to me, "Peter, you know, you've got to do something where you can make a living." And I remember when I was going to be an astronomer one day. I walked by my mother's and father's bedroom in Brooklyn, and I heard somebody crying, and it was my dad. He as sniffling. He said to my mother, "Sala (ph)" he said "He's not going to make a living as an astronomer." And it worried me.

Then I went to art school with my friend, and I told my mother I may go an become an artist. Two days later I go home, there's again the same sniffling in the bedroom. He says to my mother, "An astronomer I can understand, but not an artist." He was really upset.

KING: Most artist do not make money, right?

MAX: It's very, very difficult because, you know, the artists think they can't be media. They think if they're media then they're not serious. Today you've got to be in creativity. Creativity is the key thing for an artist.

How do you become creative? We're living in a universe, which we call creation, and we are all little creators. We have to take it, the creativity from creation, and let it happen. You've got to be very relaxed.

When I make a painting, Larry, it could be a five-, six-foot painting. I anticipate being surprised as what it comes out. I don't come to the canvas knowing what I'm going to paint.

Now, if I paint someone's portrait or I'm doing an airplane for Continental Airline or I'm doing a president, of course I know who I'm painting. But when I'm just painting for the museums, for the galleries, I just paint. I let the song happen.

KING: You paint airplanes?

MAX: I painted an airplane for Continental Airline. Gordon Bethune came to my studio one day and...

KING: The president?

MAX: The president, good friend of mine. He just retired. And Gene Luntz (ph), my buddy, brought him in and Gordon says to me he, "Wow," he says, "Will you paint?" And I suddenly see in the corner of my a little airplane I painted when I took Motley Crew, Ozzie Osborne and all the wild guys to Russia for a big concert, and I had this plane hanging from a wire. I said, "Gordon, take a look at this airplane." Gordon stands below it for about 15 minutes -- not three, four minutes -- looking.

And I don't know why these words came out of my mouth. I said to him, while standing there with Luntz (ph), and me. and I said to Gordon, "Gordon, do you think this could ever play?" And he gave me a Texas answer. He said, "Heck, yeah." And I said to Gene, I think that means yes.

And we got to paint $168 million airplane. And it was unbelievable. To walk into a -- where the plane is being painted.

KING: It flies now?

MAX: It flies every day around the world from Tel Aviv to Milan to Rome to New York or Texas all the way to Taiwan.

KING: When artists get older, do they get better?

MAX: You get better. You get better.

Art happens to me. When I was a young student, and I was in art school, I used to walk in Central Park and dream up what I was going to paint. I had the images clear in my mind and I would get the canvas and I would paint it. Today I just have one thing when I approach the canvas: the will to paint, just the will. I don't want to know what will come out. How can you know what comes out? If a jazz musician sits down at a keyboard and he wants to invent something, he wants it to happen to him. That's what happens in art.

Creativity is something you can practice to be good at, but it happens by itself.

KING: Finding color, can you teach that?

MAX: Yes you can teach it, but it's all from practice. The more you put, you know, colors together and you see color combinations, just like a musician, again, he puts three or four notes together, he creates a chord. And he goes, "Wow, I love the way it sounds."

And so colors happen all naturally to me, and I love colors. I'm a colorists. I love colors and I love drawing.

You should see some of them. At the end of the day, I'll have 200 drawings done. I draw all day long.

KING: You are an amazing person. It's an honor just to know you.

MAX: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Our high school is proud.

Peter Max, the world famed artist, pop culture icon, called the painter laureate of the United States.

Back with more after this.


KING: We're devoting a lot of time to art tonight, and we're going to spend this segment with a terrific artist, Leith Eaton, a multimedia artist, author of the forthcoming book, "Journey to the Fountain of You," coming out later this year. She does extraordinary work. We're going to be showing you some shots of her work.

And she has an upcoming exhibit when?

LEITH EATON, AUTHOR, "JOURNEY TO THE FOUNTAIN OF YOU:" April 7th at the Lacey Galleries (ph) in Los Angeles and then upcoming shows in New York, Miami, Singapore and Paris.

KING: You call your art the art -- scintilism. What is that?

EATON: I work with heavy inposto, a very thick oil paint, and I actually use the brushes and sculpt with the brushes and create more of a three dimensional surface that has a lot of areas for reflective light, hence, of course the name scintilism.

KING: Does that come naturally to you?

EATON: Yes it did, my first painting.

KING: Well, how did you become an artist? How does one become an artist?

EATON: Well, actually my parents, of course, have reminded me numerous times, sometimes in embarrassing ways, that I painted my first mural when I was 1 year old. And I've, of course, been interested in creative things ever since.

And I started as a three dimensional designer and, of course, continued expressing myself. But I was a bit frustrated until I really started -- began my career as a painter, and I just love it.

KING: Did you sell right away? No one every sells right away, right?

EATON: Actually I did.

KING: Really?

EATON: I really did. In fact it was very hard to part with the paintings. They were like children.

I, you know, I hung them actually in one of the offices that I had, and people started buying them. You could see them from the windows, and so I ended up having my first exhibition with the -- actually it was Mick Jagger's agent at the time, and she gave me my first show. It was a lot of fun.

And then the second one, Elizabeth Ives Bartless (ph), who actually brought Cubans into America in New York.

KING: It's a hoot to know that you hang in rooms of other people, isn't it?

EATON: it is.

KING: I mean, that's the joy an artist gets.

EATON: Yes, it really is.

KING: You're in people's environment. They're around -- you are around them every day.

EATON: I love that actually, because I've -- over the years I've had so many comments that people have really enjoyed and that the paintings have uplifted them, especially when I have a chance to get to know the collectors. That really makes it very, very nice for me and I try to.

KING: When you -- do you get into it? Does it take a long time or does that depend on the painting?

EATON: It really depends on the subject. The -- I would say the longest process with my work is conceiving it, coming up with the actual inspiration and then knowing ahead of time exactly what I'm going to incorporate into the work. KING: So it's the thought process first.


KING: The work is secondary.

EATON: It really is.

KING: You were the official artist for the 1996 Republican National Convention.

EATON: Yes, yes.

KING: You painted President Bush.

EATON: Yes. I -- actually I was commissioned by Bob and Elizabeth Dole originally, and I had an exhibit that was hanging in the Cannon House rotunda in the U.S. Congress. And so I jumped into action and set up a studio in Washington and painted the painting of Bob Dole, and then it ended up just by chance being chosen as the official painting for the convention.

KING: Do you like portraiture?

EATON: I do. I enjoy it a lot. I consider it as an expression of the, you know, capturing the essence of the individuals who I paint. So I make it a point to, in some way, really be able to get to know them and understand what they are about. And I don't just paint anyone.

KING: Tell me about this book that's coming, "Journey to the Fountain of You."

EATON: The book is the 21st guide to a more positive and productive life. And it has everything from of course diet and fitness and health and longevity but also information on love and even environment, how it affects you.


EATON: Actually it's really not. It's an extension of my art work, because I like to uplift mankind with my work, and that's what this book is all about. It's sort of a labor of love. This has been a path that I have been on for many, many years and so I'm sharing that.

KING: Do you paint every day?

EATON: I don't paint every day, because I actually work with many different medias, singing and so on and so forth. And I really find that I put so much into it when I am painting that I have to take a break from it.

So I remove myself from it and I put myself in a completely different frame of mind, and then when I'm ready to paint again, then I start and then it's very intensive. I don't stop until I complete the painting. KING: You do film too?

EATON: Yes, yes I have so -- two projects that I'm working on. One actually is a project about Lady Hamilton, who was one of the most painted figures, female figures, throughout time, and it's a fascinating story. And then another one a Hollywood mystery.

KING: Now you're a direct descendant of King Edward III?

EATON: Yes, yes I am.

KING: Can you trace it back that far?

EATON: That -- well, I didn't trace it back, but I have had others who have and of course my name, Leith comes from Leith, Scotland, and there's a castle sitting there today. In fact when I was a child my ancestors told me that I could go back and claim it through -- by paying the back taxes. I haven't done that yet.

KING: And also, supposedly related to Daniel Boone.

EATON: Yes, yes.

KING: Wahoo!

EATON: It's kind of -- isn't that a combination.

KING: Daniel Boone and Edward III.

EATON: Right.

KING: No wonder you formed a new concept of painting. It comes at you, probably.

EATON: Yes, and through Joshua Reynolds, I might add, who is one of my relatives.

KING: OK. The gallery opening is April what?

EATON: April 7th at the Lacey Galleries (ph) in Los Angeles.

KING: April 7th, the Lacey Galleries (ph) in Los Angeles, and then we'll be seeing your work in Singapore and in New York.

EATON: And Singapore, Paris, New York and Miami.

KING: Thanks so much, Leith.

EATON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Leith Eaton, she's terrific. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: One of the best books about the law ever written, certainly one of the best I ever read, "Courting Justice" by David Boies, subtitled "From New York Yankees vs. Major League Baseball to Bush vs. Gore in 1997 to 2000," the career of an amazing, amazing jurist.

David Boies, "Courting Justice," why did you choose the law?

BOIES: A lot of reasons. I watched Perry Mason when I was a kid. It sounds silly now, but it was one of the things that first interested me in the law.

Then when I got into high school and college, I saw that so many of our relationships are determined by the law: who we can marry, at that point you still have many laws that forbid interracial marriages, for example; where people go to school, you still had an era of segregation.

There were so many areas where the law, I thought, was acting improperly or was discriminating against people. And there were so many places where the law helped people.

KING: So you were an activist?

BOIES: I was an activist.

KING: And you do all types of law...

BOIES: I do.

KING: ... criminal, civil, defending the Gore case in Florida...


KING: ...which got you international prestige. That was a losing case that didn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) though, right.

BOIES: I don't know whether it hurt me. It certainly hurt my feelings. That was a tough one to lose.

KING: Why did you write the book?

BOIES: I was asked to write a book about cases, and I thought those cases were interesting to me, I thought they'd be interesting to other people.

And each of those, it is an important case in terms of what it says about the kind of justice system we have. And I thought it was important for people to understand how the law really operates, what happens behind the scenes. It's not just a headline of somebody winning or losing; it's how the process works.

KING: So this book, as I've read, a series of cases best describes the overall formula. Louis Nizer used to do books like this.

BOIES: Yes, he did.

KING: "My Life in Court." I knew Louis well.

BOIES: He was a great lawyer.

KING: What makes a good lawyer?

BOIES: I think persistence, objectivity, the willingness to dig for the facts. Actually, many of the things that make a good lawyer would make a good journalist, because what you're trying to do is you're trying to find out a story.

Now, the difference is that when a lawyer finds out the story tries to present that in a way that favors the lawyer's client, whereas a journalist tries to be objective.

But all of the underlying work -- trying to understand the facts, trying to get at the truth, trying to make people who don't want to tell you the truth tell you the truth -- is very common to me. Because you've got to understand what the facts are in order to present them.

KING: The great doctors have always told me, one, they take their patients home in their head, they marry them in a sense. Does a good lawyer do that?

BOIES: Yes, absolutely. When you're in a case, you're thinking about that case when you're in the office, when you're out of the office, when you're in the shower, when you're on vacation, because there are so many aspects of it that you're trying to figure out.

And you're trying to understand not only what your best arguments are and what the facts are, but how to present it, how to make it real, how to make it come alive for a jury, for a judge.

And so you're always sort of refining that and thinking about that and worrying about that.

KING: Do you learn from every case?

BOIES: Every case, every case.

KING: Winning and losing?

BOIES: Winning and losing.

KING: You win most of the time.

BOIES: You win a lot, but actually you learn. You often learn more from losing, because you see what happens and you try to think of the ways that you could have done it differently. And that really helps you learn more than anything.

KING: Was Gore's case in Florida the most frustrating, because it was really decided by seven people?

BOIES: Yes, it was in a sense the most frustrating.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) AL GORE, 2000 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just a moment ago I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time.


BOIES: In terms of the overall scope of the country, the Gore case was probably the most frustrating case I've ever had.

KING: Do you feel that was the wrong decision?

BOIES: Well, I think it was the wrong decision, but I can see how the court could come to a decision like that. I think that it was unfortunate that that was decision was rendered by the United States Supreme Court, because it was an issue of Florida, and I would have liked to have seen that decision -- I think it would have better for the court and better for our justice system if that decision were made in Florida courts.

But I understand the close question and it was a difficult question. There were important arguments both ways.

KING: You've represented Don Imus, Calvin Kline, Lloyds of London. You won cases against Sotheby's and Christie's. That's a way to get it all even.

Edward Bennett Williams was a great friend, one of the great friends I had, and he said he had a sign in his office: "We may turn down a case but never because of its notoriety." Do you agree with that?

BOIES: I do, I agree with that. I think that you want to take on the cases that you think are right. And sometimes those cases are going to be popular and sometimes those cases are not going to be popular. Sometimes you're going to be able to win them and sometimes you're not going to be able to win them.

But I think if you're a lawyer and you're successful enough to have your choice of the cases, what you do is, you take on the kind of cases that you think are right.

KING: Why is it that the public, if Fidel Castro is walking down the street and he had a heart attack, we would expect a doctor to treat him, and the doctor would be condemned if we didn't.


KING: But why do we get mad if a lawyer defends him?

BOIES: Well, I think it's because the lawyer tends to be identified with the client. When you go into court, you tend to be identified by the client that you're representing, and people confuse you with the client. They confuse your role in the justice system with your identification of the person you're representing.

Remember John Adams, a great patriot, a great advocate of independence, defended some of the British soldiers who were engaged in the Boston massacre. And he did that because he believed they deserved to have a defense.

So there's a long tradition of defending unpopular clients, but it still doesn't make it any easier for many people in the public to understand that.

KING: George Steinbrenner a good client?

BOIES: Great client, great client and a great baseball...

KING: A good client and I think great guy. Good client listens to his lawyer, right?

BOIES: He does, and the surprising about George and other people, who are strong willed people, is that people sometimes think they won't listen to lawyers. They listen to lawyers just like they listen to a doctor because they're going to -- they're picking somebody for their expertise.

KING: That's how they got to be smart.


KING: David...

BOIES: Thank you.

KING: ...I congratulate you.

BOIES: Thank you very much.

KING: it's an honor knowing you...


KING: ...and this is a great book.

BOIES: Thank you very much.

KING: "Courting Justice: From New York Yankees vs. Major League Baseball to Bush vs. Gore," you will not be able to put it down.

David Boies published by Merrimack. I'll be right back.


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