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K-Fed In Court, Britney a No-Show

Aired October 3, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Brit's still not fit to keep the kids. A judge has ruled the falling pop star can only visit them. K-Fed heard the news firsthand, but she was a no-show.
Where is Britney Spears -- in turmoil, in trouble or in denial?

And then, she lived a double life for decades -- Olympic golden girl Dorothy Hamill. In public, a skating sweetheart. In private, spinning on thin ice. Battling through the loss of her one true love and depression and divorce and even thoughts of suicide.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Various panelists to discuss the Britney Spears issue.

In the first panel segment, the guests are, in Los Angeles, Harvey Levin, the managing editor of

In Los Angeles, Dayna Devon, the co-host of "Extra."

Here in New York, Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, author of "Till Death Do Us Part," a contributing editor for "Cookie," the new lifestyle magazine for moms.

And Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist. And her best-selling books include "Anatomy Of A Secret Life". She's also a contributor to "O," the Oprah magazine.

What happened today, Harvey?

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, TMZ: Well, we know what happened in court, and it was not pretty for Britney Spears. The judge basically would not change the custody order that -- Kevin Federline still has physical custody, even though her lawyer, Sorrell Trope, argued very hard that it was unfair to do what the judge had done. He wouldn't budge. He did give her visitation. But, Larry, it is monitored visitation.

That's how wary the judge is of Britney Spears.

Also, we know the judge had said on Monday, I'm not going to order both parties into court, but it will be a really good idea for Britney to show up and for Kevin to show up. He did. And we know that her lawyer urged her to show. She wouldn't do it. And the bottom line is that the judge has set a hearing for October 26th. Britney must appear at this hearing. He has ordered her and Kevin to appear. But basically the move to change custody back to 50/50 was shut down today.

KING: Dayna, and Kevin came with an eye patch, is that right?

DAYNA DEVON, CO-HOST, "EXTRA": Yes. He came in with an eye patch over his eye. I'm told it's a medical condition and that the glare sometimes affects him. So his lawyer said he was wearing an eye patch. So, an interesting wardrobe choice, and actually kind of cool in some weird way.

KING: Did he react happily to the -- what happened today?

DEVON: He was happy. He smiling. He was laughing outside of court. He was very satisfied with what went on. Of course, though, he's probably hearing a lot of other information. There's some -- there are reports that "Extra" is looking into today that, actually, Lynne Spears may be looking into suing Kevin, also, for custody. And her motivation behind that would be for her to have access to the boys, as well as Britney to keep access to the boys.

KING: Dr. Saltz, the judge has branded Britney "a habitual, frequent and continuous user of drugs and alcohol," the substance abuse (INAUDIBLE).

Do you think it might be more than that?

Do you think there might be depression here?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Absolutely. I mean it's a chicken and egg phenomenon. It's hard to know if alcohol and substance abuse precipitated depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior -- all of which is looks like we're seeing -- or whether, in fact, there was depression or some mood disorder or anxiety and, you know, sort of a move to self-medicate with the alcohol and substances.

KING: Like, the judge asked her to appear.

Why not appear?

SALTZ: You know, it's...

KING: Why wouldn't -- give me a reason.

SALTZ: It certainly concerns me, because there were sort of two paths that she could take after all of this. There was the look in the mirror and say oh my gosh, I have made terrible choices. I am in desperate straits and I need to do what I need to do to correct the situation, in which case you would think she would have shown up at court. And then there's the other side, which is continuing on the same path, being so overwhelmed, over washed with the alcohol, with the substances, with the mood problem, and instead becoming more entrenched, becoming more self-destructive and being unable to get out. KING: Dr. Robi Ludwig, what's your read?

DR. ROBIN LUDWIG, PSY.D. PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I think this a person who never had a healthy childhood and it's impossible to be a healthy adult without a healthy childhood. You know, this is somebody who probably romanticized family life and thought if she got married to the man of her dreams and had kids, that would somehow make her whole. And that's just not the way it works at all.

In fact, at "Cookie," we really empower women to be who you need to be so that you can be there for the people that you love.

KING: Is she curable?

LUDWIG: Absolutely. I mean, there's still hope. But I think she needs to really hit rock bottom before...

KING: Gail's not sure?

SALTZ: I think it's questionable. I tell you something, substance abuse and alcoholism are dangerous diseases. And people can work very hard to get out of that and not all of them do. So I would be -- I think that she certainly has a shot...

LUDWIG: But he asked if there was hope...


SALTZ: There's a shot...

LUDWIG: I think there's hope, though.

SALTZ: But I would be cautiously optimistic.

KING: Harvey, what's the public interest in this story?

LEVIN: Well, I think it's changed a little bit because, you know, it used to be just looking at Britney Spears as a celebrity. And now it's a real life soap opera that I think a lot of people relate to. It involves kids, it involves motherhood, parenthood. It involves dads stepping up. It involves changing images of people.

So, you know, I think there is just -- and the bizarre conduct.

Larry, you know where she was today?

She was -- rather than going to court, which her lawyer desperately wanted her to do -- and we know this. It was a closed hearing, but what I said went down really did. The judge wants her there. She's in Malibu. And then she goes to a gas station in the San Fernando Valley. She's sitting there with a dog in her lap and drives a couple of errands and goes home. And it's like you look at this and then why are people interested?

You think how could this woman do this when her custody -- when her right of custody with her children is on the line? It is just bizarre.

KING: Dayna, it appears her assistant, Alli Simms, has quit.

Is that right?

DEVON: That is right. You know, a bad situation just got even worse for Britney, if that's possible. Alli Simms is her friend/cousin/assistant. And she left in a huff today, packed up her things and split. And this just another sad case of another person leaving Britney when she's down. And I have a friend, actually, that spent some time with her in Las Vegas over the last few months. At the end of the evening, Britney just broke down in tears and said, "I am so lonely. I'm so lonely. I can't trust anyone."


DEVON: So I think this another example of someone she can't trust -- she feels like she can't trust.

KING: Gail, is -- Gail, is life falling part for her?

SALTZ: Well, it certainly appears that way. I think, you know, when you asked the question, how could she not show up, you know, clearly, this is a woman who's been highly ambivalent about motherhood.

Now, I do want to say that almost all mothers have some ambivalence, because it is -- as joyful as it is, it's also a huge burden to care for a child. But, unfortunately, it seems that the -- possibly because, as Robi said, she didn't really have a childhood. She's almost trying to have one now in this sort of rebellious, acting out sort of way.

KING: But what's going to turn it around for her, Robi?

LUDWIG: Well, I think that's what's also striking about this (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: She has to go somewhere. She has...

LUDWIG: Many people think oh, when you have kids, that's the motivation to really get you to the next level, where you're less selfless.

What's going to be the deciding factor?

She's going to need to figure out that her life is a mess and what she's doing is not working. And if she wants to feel better, she's going to have to make different choices.

KING: Some of our panelists will be returning.

We'll meet our new panel when we come back. Some of TV's top judges, from "Divorce Court" to "The People's Court" and more, will tell us how they would have ruled today, when we come back. (VIDEO CLIP FROM TMZ.COM)


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

In this segment, we meet Judge Marilyn Milian. She rules on TV of "The People's Court," a former Miami circuit court judge.

In Dallas, Judge Lynn Toler, who presides over TV's "Divorce Court," host of myNetworkTV's "Decision House," previously served as a judge in Cleveland Heights.

In Los Angeles, Judge Glenda Hatchett. She presides over the TV court show, "Judge Hatchett." She was chief presiding judge of the Fulton County, Georgia Juvenile Court.

And in San Diego, the famed attorney Mark Geragos, and the equally famed celebrity divorce attorney, in Los Angeles, is Neal Hersh.

All right, Judge Milian, would you have ruled that way today?

JUDGE MARILYN MILIAN, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT": You know, it's hard to say in a closed hearing how you would have ruled on evidence you didn't hear. However, I think that from what we have seen from her behavior, I think that this judge has been very patient for a very long time. You know, when you're told you have until Wednesday to hand in your kids and you hand them in early; when you are suggested -- it is suggested very strongly that perhaps you should show up and you don't; you know, she's been on a very destructive path for a while, basically not showing any indication that she plans to go on the straight and narrow.

So I -- the only thing I'm concerned about, and one of the things that I've been concerned about is that I don't know whether today -- and I don't know if anybody else has heard whether or not a guardian ad litem has been appointed for the kids, which, it is my understanding, still had not happened before today.

KING: We might find that out later. Or maybe the attorneys know it.

Judge Toler, isn't this kind of case basically custody and dealing with marriage and divorce, the toughest kind?

JUDGE LYNN TOLER, HOST, "DIVORCE COURT," MYNETWORKTV'S "DECISION HOUSE": Oh, absolutely. You're dealing with extreme emotion. You're dealing with years of, usually, pent up anger and all of that. And what concerns me is that even within the nation is that court is the place of first resort when, in fact, mediation -- which often different jurisdictions require and even California does offer, but not require -- mediation should be the place you go first.

KING: Yes.

Judge Hatchett, what do you make of this mess?

JUDGE GLENDA HATCHETT, TV'S "JUDGE HATCHETT": Well, I think until Britney decides that she is going to get really serious, that she understands that these court orders aren't suggestions, they are court orders and she has to comply, and get very serious about the drug screening and whether she needs to get some help. I'm concerned. When she should have come to court today, she is out in Malibu and kind of in what appears to be a meltdown, Larry.

But, at the end of the day, it really isn't about Britney. It's about what is in these children's best interests.

KING: Right.

HATCHETT: And that's what the judge has done.

KING: Mark Geragos, do you know if someone was appointed as a guardian for the children, as Judge Milian asked?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't know and I don't know that that person would reveal if they had been appointed.

But, ultimately, she's got a -- she's got a judge here -- she's very lucky or fortunate to have this particular judge. I've known him since he was a D.A. and commissioner after that. And he really has the patience of Job and he is a very caring, feeling guy who understands people -- that people have problems. And she's got a wonderful opportunity, when she takes the bull by the horn, so to speak, to get her kids back because he's going to -- he's going to bend over backwards to try to accommodate her. And I think he already has. Closing the hearing, I think, was a testament to that. And encouraging her to come and not making it mandatory, at least initially, and setting some deadlines and trying to engage her. I think ultimately, she's got a real opportunity here.

KING: Neal Hersh, you have appeared before this judge?

NEAL HERSH, CELEBRITY DIVORCE ATTORNEY, REPRESENTS KIM BASINGER VS. ALEC BALDWIN: I have, and often. And everything Mark says, I couldn't agree more with. This is a wonderful judicial officer and a person who is going to certainly look at her actions in the future. And if Britney actually starts taking responsibility for her life and taking action to put her back on a path that will lead her to be more responsible, this a judge who will certainly take that into consideration and look forward to try to reuniting her and giving her more time with her children. That's the ultimate goal.

KING: Neal, she appears to be a difficult client.


HERSH: Yes. Yes, that's true. This an understatement. You know...

KING: Now, do you bend over backward, Judge Milian, for the woman in a custody case?

MILIAN: No, I don't think that you...


It's a square -- a level playing field?

MILIAN: Well, it should be a level playing field. I mean I...

KING: The man has an equal shot at it as the woman?

MILIAN: Well, it depends -- yes. I mean their gender isn't what should matter, of course. What should matter is what kind of parent...

KING: But it used to be automatic that the woman got the children.

MILIAN: That was a while ago, you know?

KING: Yes.

MILIAN: What should matter is the kind of parent that you are and the kind of effort that you're putting in. And, really, when, you know, in family court and dependency court, so much of it is showing up, you know, literally and spiritually, you know?

I mean he has been very understanding of her addiction. She appears to have not just an addiction to drugs and alcohol, but an addiction to the paparazzi and to the attention. And, you know, this self-destructive path that she's been on -- he's been very tolerant and very tolerant and, you know -- and she's making absolutely no effort to show a desire to change right now.

KING: Is it...

MILIAN: I'm very concerned about her.

KING: Judge Toler, is it tougher when there's media attention -- tougher on the judge?

TOLER: It is tougher on the judge, because the judge does know everyone is scrutinizing him and he also knows that everyone is making decisions based upon media information -- information which may have not been properly presented before the court. But a good judge -- and, apparently, based on what I've heard about this judge -- is he steps beyond that and that is your duty to step beyond that. And you listen to what has been presented in court, what is on the record, whatever might be said to a court of appeals. And you make your decision based upon that, erring on the side of caution in an effort to protect and defend the children.

KING: Thank you all very much.

We'll devote another full segment to this.

Some of our guests come back.

And when we come back, has Britney hit rock bottom yet? And can she change enough to regain custody before the next hearing?

It's not too far away.

That's next on LARRY KING LIVE.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you are doing, Britney?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, Britney?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Britney, you look great.



KING: We're back.

Harvey Levin returns.

And remaining, Judge Marilyn Milian, Dr. Robi Ludwig, Dr. Gail Saltz and Mark Geragos.

Harvey, what happens on October 26th?

LEVIN: Well, it's a showdown. The judge -- you know, he's -- I agree with everybody. He is a great judge and a great guy. And he's a forgiving guy. But she has thumbed her nose at him. She's disobeyed every order, almost, that he's given. And he urged her to be there. She didn't do it. She has to be there that day. And I was told by somebody today, who has been involved in all of this, who has said Britney Spears will never show up in court. She will never show up. It is not who she is, and she's been asked before.

So it's going to be real interesting. If she doesn't, this judge -- with great patience, I think -- I think the door's going to shut.

KING: Not show up, Judge, at the risk of losing her children?

MILIAN: Well, you know, if you watch her behavior, it's not consistent with somebody who is desperately trying to get them back. That's what's so scary. I don't know what's going on.

Does she really want them back?

Is she, you know, is she making any effort to show that this is something that she wants to have happen?

You know, she's not in rehab. She's not showing up. She hands them over early. You know, I don't know where she's going with this. And she may not show up on that day. And I hope not. I hope that she makes some effort to get herself back in order and shows up that day. I don't know.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, a British tabloid, "The Sun," is quoting Britney's aunt by marriage, Chandra McGovern, as saying that Britney's family fears they will turn on the TV and find out she's dead.

LUDWIG: Yes, well, that's a...

KING: Is that a logical fear?

LUDWIG: That's a very real possibility. And I was thinking, you know, at first, when I hear her giving up the kids early is that saying that she can't handle motherhood or is that what people do before they suicide?

Do they give away their most prized possessions in preparation for really saying good-bye to everybody?

I mean this a very serious and dire situation. And, hopefully, an intervention will be made in time. But, you know, people are fragile. If they don't get the help they need, they can suicide.

KING: Dr. Saltz, should the judge talk to psychiatrists?

SALTZ: Absolutely. But that being said, the only one ultimately who can decide to work with a psychiatrist is Britney Spears. And, unfortunately, in addition to whatever psychiatrically may be going on, alcohol and substances impair your judgment greatly. So she -- all of these decisions she's making are through the cloud and haze of substance abuse. And that means that it's very possible she will make these very unwise ones, including not showing up. When it doesn't make sense to anybody else, it may, in some warped way, make sense to her.

KING: Mark Geragos, what do you do with a client like this?

GERAGOS: Well, I don't know. I -- before I speculate as to what's going on in her head, let me just say hypothetically if you have a client who doesn't want to come to court, it requires quite a bit of hand holding, talking to, assurance. And then ultimately you just put your foot down and you deal with it. And I've been there. I've had clients who don't want to come. And sometimes it's been a rational fear, sometimes irrational.

But at a certain point, the lawyer just takes control and deals with it.

I would venture to say that you will see her in court, maybe not this particular court first. But she's got two tracks going on. She's got the criminal and she's got this. And, at some point, she's going to be in court. And I think she'll see, once she gets there, that it's not that horrible place and that there are people there who want to help her out. And I think once the lawyer expresses that to her and maybe takes control of the situation, she -- she might be able to turn this ship around. KING: That tape you're looking at now is Britney Spears today. Harvey, would it be wise, maybe, for the media, everybody, to give her some slack, back off?

LEVIN: You know, I agree with Marilyn. She is addicted to the paparazzi. She really is. This woman will circle the block on Robertson to make sure that people see that she's coming. I mean she's legendary in this town -- legendary, you know, for courting cameras. I mean she loves it. It's how she rolls.

And, you know, Larry, if I may say one thing. I love Mark, but I think -- I really disagree whether she's motivated by rational or irrational fear. I don't think she has any fear. I mean I think that's the problem, that Britney Spears doesn't think that anything applies to her. And she will just cavalierly disregard advice, disregard orders. And I don't think she feels the sufficient fear that she needs to feel. And I think that's the problem.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: Well, you know, the problem, Harvey, is that she's going to have somebody, at a certain point, leveling some pretty strong directives her way, either from the criminal or the civil. And I disagree in this sense. I've had clients who -- who have seemingly, from the outside, had no fear. And generally that's just an act. They tend to be motivated by nothing but fear, and almost to the point of being irrational.

KING: Is there...

GERAGOS: So, you know, they -- at a certain point, all of their -- they put on this act. But when you really get down to it, it's because they're so insecure.

KING: Judge Milian, is there anything you can spot to be optimistic about?

MILIAN: Well, you know, everyone says that she's got to hit rock bottom. She's got to hit rock bottom. And for many of us, everything we look at, we keep saying, well, that's got to be rock bottom. And then there's yet another rock bottom the next day, you know?

I just wish there was someone in her life -- and this is what concerns me the most, is that there's not a role model in this person's life, there's not a loved one, there's not a friend, there's not -- you know, perhaps another singer who would reach out to her. Nothing. Nothing. There's no one who can affect her behavior and just pull her out of Hollywood, stick her in Kansas for a few months and just get her out of where she is.

KING: Doesn't she have friends, Robi?

LUDWIG: Well, it sounds like she's rejected a lot of her friends. And maybe it's hard for her to have friends. Maybe people want to use her in her inner circle. This is somebody who's stuck in a very rebellious, adolescent mode. And when you are a rebellious adolescent, anybody who represents authority, you reject.

KING: Do you see anything to be optimistic about, Gail?

SALTZ: The only thing I could say is that if, in fact, she does go to rehab, and she goes to a really good rehab -- and, in which case she would miss her court date by virtue of the fact that there is no way that she would be out by October 26th...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which I'm sure the judge would understand.

SALTZ: Because -- right, which, hopefully, he would because, in fact, you really need like 60 days of -- because you need to go through withdrawal and then, frankly, the frontal lobe is turned off, we've learned now, for a period of time.

KING: Yes.

SALTZ: So the ability to learn anything new is really stymied for quite some time. But if she had really good treatment, yes, I think that could be a bright spot.

KING: Hope so.

Thank you all very much.

Our thanks to TMZ for use of that new Britney video that you just saw.

Coming up, winning Olympic gold and becoming America's sweetheart did not keep her from battling depression and even contemplating suicide.

The incredibly talented, Dorothy Hamill -- an emotional interview right after this.


KING: Great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Dorothy Hamill. Author of an extraordinary new autobiography, "A Skating Life: My Story."

There you see its cover. On the back, just a portion from the book. "Thank goodness I had my skating. There was certainly a pattern to my life. When times were tough, I went skating. It was only while I was there - while I was on ice enjoying the freedom of movement and my love of music that I was able to escape from my bottomless heartache." Was that happening when you were winning the Olympics?

DOROTHY HAMILL, FIGURE SKATER: A little bit. Some, some but mostly afterwards. But skating has been the one thing that's been there, been the constant throughout my life. So there wasn't as much heart ache during the competitive days because I was pretty young and tenacious. KING: Did the heartache then occur by life's events?

HAMILL: Uh-huh, yes. You think when you achieve you're lifelong goal at the age of 19 that life is going to be just blissful after that. And that's really when I started to really grow up. And it just wasn't everything that I thought winning an Olympic gold medal would be.

KING: What was it like to win? How about that? For a kid. You were a kid.

HAMILL: I was a kid, naive and sheltered. And it was like -- it really was like a switch going off. All of a sudden, one of the reasons I got involved in skating was because I was painfully shy. And I was not a great student, so it was the place where I could express myself without having to talk to people.

KING: You were a natural skater?

HAMILL: Hmm, not exactly. Fairly natural but not extremely gifted or talented. I wasn't one of those hot, young phenoms.

KING: Did you have too much, too soon?

HAMILL: I don't -- I don't think so.

KING: So winning didn't -- winning didn't cause you trouble?

HAMILL: Winning didn't cause me trouble. But it was really such a different life. Because I had been so sheltered and all I did was train. And then -- and there were amateurs. I made a dollar or so babysitting. And after winning the Olympics and the world champions, all of a sudden I had managers and agents and lawyers and accountants ...

KING: You turned pro, didn't you?


KING: You did IceCapades.

HAMILL: IceCapades and television specials.

KING: You were told of the world. Commercials.

HAMILL: Absolutely, or should have been.

KING: I saw you at Madison Square Garden. I saw you in Miami. It was a good ice show -- You were a great ice show.

HAMILL: Yes. We owned IceCapades after a while. Yes.

KING: So everything was riding high?

HAMILL: Or should have been.

KING: What happened?

HAMILL: Well ...

KING: You married Dean Martin's son.

HAMILL: I married the most handsome, adorable, charming, talented ...

KING: One of the great looking guys of all time and a good guy.

HAMILL: Great guy, great guy. Wonderful sense of humor. And it was a time in my life where it was great to have someone who knew -- oh, there he is.

KING: There he is. He was in the air force.

HAMILL: He was in the Air National Guard. He went through Air Force pilot training. And we were married just before he went into the Air Force.

KING: And you were happy at that point?


KING: Nothing wrong, no -- were you skating?

HAMILL: I was skating. And when we -- when we got married, when he went away into the Air Force, he came back home or back to California, Los Angeles, and I had skated with IceCapades about eight or nine years at that point. I was at a point where I wanted to settle down and have children. And he was trying to figure out what he was going to do for the rest of his life. And he kept trying to get back into acting.

And ...

KING: He was going to leave the Air National Guard?

HAMILL: He was in the reserves. So he was a bit unsettled. So we were kind of different -- at different points in our lives.

KING: Were you happy or not happy?

HAMILL: I was very happy. I was very happy. But he was unsettled. And I just think that there are lots of women who adored him and still do.

KING: You had to face that.

HAMILL: Yes, yes.

KING: And then that tragic day. By the way, Dean was a great father-in-law, wasn't he? The best.

HAMILL: The best. Just the best. And Jeanie (ph) was a wonderful mother-in-law. And she kept that family together. KING: She's still around, Jeanie.

HAMILL: She is. I love her dearly. They made me feel so much a part of their family. And even after Dean and I were divorced, we still remained close.

KING: So you get divorced but you remain close?


KING: Where were you that terrible day?

HAMILL: I was ...

KING: You still loved him, right?

HAMILL: Yes, very much. And we always talked maybe someday we would be together again. But I was in Palm Springs in a condominium that I had with my husband Ken, as of a week. And I got a phone call.

KING: You remarried?

HAMILL: I had just -- just remarried. And I got a phone call from a friend of ours, of Dean. And his son was with him in the car. They had gone down to watch dean do a routine training mission. And there was some bad weather. And I got a phone call from our friend Scott Sandler and said, Dorothy, you may hear something on the news. Dean's plane is missing. And of course, we were all thinking the best we could possibly. For a few days they couldn't find the plane.

KING: They eventually found it?

HAMILL: They eventually found remains. Not much.

KING: Dean Sr. was never the same.

HAMILL: Never the same, no. Never the same. No. We used to see him a few times afterwards, afterwards at one of the Italian restaurants he would go almost every night.

KING: Every night.


KING: Sitting by himself.

HAMILL: Yep. He used to call me -- yep, and he used to call me mortoviner (ph) and he used to call me sassy face. And I went in one night and said hello to him when I had been living in Palm Springs and drove in and saw him. And he just -- he just -- he knew me and he recognized me and was really happy to see me but he just wasn't the same. You can see that the life had gone out of his face.

KING: What happened to the marriage with Ken?

HAMILL: Well, we were married for about eight, eight and a half years. And it went south for many years.

KING: No children?

HAMILL: Yes. I have one daughter.

KING: How old?

HAMILL: She's 19 now. Alex.

KING: Little Dorothy Hamill has a 19-year-old. We're going to take a break and talk about battling depression. This extraordinary book is "A Skating Life." Dorothy Hamill. Much more when we come back.

Before we go to break, it's that time of the week. Our newest podcast is ready for downloading. Head to or iTunes for our Whoopi Goldberg podcast. She talks about "The View" and Britney and Rosie and more. It's the Whoopi Goldberg podcast available at or iTunes. Back with Dorothy Hamill, right after this.


KING: We're back with Dorothy Hamill. Her book is "A Skating Life." By the way, what do you make of this whole Britney Spears thing?

HAMILL: It's tragic. Those poor, little children. You know, I -- I fear she's headed the way of Anna Nicole Smith. She's so young and so beautiful and made so much money and I'd just really hate to see -- you know, I think she needs some real help.

KING: Do you think there's some depression involved?

HAMILL: I would think there may be. It wouldn't surprise me. She's still pretty young. I probably didn't discover mine until later, although I know I suffered through bouts of it.

KING: How did you know you had it?

HAMILL: Well, I can remember, you know, a few episodes where I would just be talking to you, for instance, and then just burst into tears for no apparent reason. And that was really kind of when my life was falling apart for real, the second marriage and I had to file for personal bankruptcy and we were selling our company, IceCapades.

KING: So events led to it?

HAMILL: Well, yes. And then I went off the medication and realized that I needed some kind of help. So I sought -- I sought help with a doctor, psychiatrist. And then went back and looked at my life and my parents and my uncles and, you know, there are quite a few suicides in the family and lots of alcoholism.

KING: Do you think it is genetic? HAMILL: I do, I do. I have it sort of coming and going on both my mother and my father's side. And it explains a lot of the behaviors, the sort of cocktail hour, self-medicating. And there was such a stigma attached to it. Especially in those days growing up. If you were ...

KING: Why did you go off your medication?

HAMILL: Because I -- you know, I was starting to work again and I sort of felt that it kind of -- it was just -- I thought it was more just circumstances that made me feel -- and I wasn't sort of paralyzed the way after that I had been. So I just went off of it. I didn't like the way it made me feel. And I thought my life was getting better so everything would be okay.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Maxine in Bakersfield, California. "Dorothy, there have been multiple studies that revealed depression is genetically linked. As a depression survivor, you have been able to discuss this possibility with your daughter?"

HAMILL: Yes, absolutely. And I'm not speaking out of turn because she admitted to "People" magazine that she suffers from depression as well.

KING: She has depression, at 19?

HAMILL: Uh-huh.

KING: Being treated?


KING: Is that tough for you?

HAMILL: Very, very. But I'm so thankful that I was able to -- to get help and to sort of understand it and recognize it. And we have been through a lot, the two of us. Her dad really hasn't been involved much, so we are sort of all -- all we have. And so we have had a very close relationship and tried to be open as much about it. And so, you know, she's had a lot of adjustments growing up.

KING: You're a gutsy lady. Dorothy Hamill, the book is "A Skating Life," an important book. Before we take a break, let's go to Anderson Cooper, the host of AC 360 coming up at the top of the hour. What's up tonight, Anderson?

COOPER: Larry, we have got a couple breaking stories tonight. The first out of San Diego, where a massive sinkhole in an upscale neighborhood has swallowed one house, take a look at that, and is threatening to bring down others. Word tonight of more evacuations. We will have a live report. Plus a mining accident traps more than 3,000 miners in South Africa, that's right, more than 3,000. We are going to have the latest on rescue efforts.

And in depth investigation of international adoptions. Some serious allegations of poor mothers being paid to give up their kids, even kids being stolen. What's going on? We're keeping them honest at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: That's AC 360, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

And when we come back, how Dorothy's depression led to thoughts of suicide. That's next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: We're back with Dorothy Hamill. Her extraordinary book "A Skating Life." How close did you come to suicide?

HAMILL: Well, there's one time in particular that I remember, and I was in Arizona, and we were selling IceCapades. And there's just an awful lot of emotional things going on. And I was in the car, and I thought, you know, I could just drive this car, step on the gas and drive it into the cement wall. And I called 911.

KING: For yourself?

HAMILL: Uh-huh.

KING: And said?

HAMILL: I said, you know, I'm thinking of doing something crazy, and I just, you know, I was in tears. The lady wasn't particularly helpful. And I think I just eventually hung up. But ...

KING: Did someone come?

HAMILL: No, no.

KING: What stopped you?

HAMILL: My daughter. Thinking of my daughter. And I just thought how selfish it would be. And it's just that ...

KING: Suicide is selfish, isn't it?

HAMILL: Yes, it is.

KING: We have a question from Jean from Carson, California. "How did you get through your depression to go on with a career? Tell me where to start."

Obviously someone suffering ...

HAMILL: Oh, yes. And that's -- it's not easy because when you -- I mean everyone has different ways of handling it. But I literally couldn't get off the couch to unload a dishwasher. And it's one of those things that I really decided -- actually, my daughter knew that I had been talking to someone, and she called the psychiatrist and said, "I'm really worried about my mom." And it was my daughter, again, who had the doctor call me and say, "You got to get in here now."

KING: So she saved you? HAMILL: Uh-huh, she did.

KING: And now you're saving her.

HAMILL: Yeah, and the great thing is she's aware of it. So, anyway, my advice to the woman is just make a call and, you know, even -- it's expensive but there are places that don't cost money. And I wish I had an answer and a phone number, but there are hotlines and that's really ...

KING: Let's take a call from Daphne, Alabama. Hello?

CALLER: Hi. Dorothy Hamill, I am such a fan of yours. I skated for 14 years and, too, have suffered from depression. So I want to thank you for being an inspiration, first of all. My question is, when you skated, did you find that your depression was lifted? And when you skate today, does it help to continue to like get the endorphins going and release the depression?

KING: Good question.

HAMILL: Absolutely. Very good question. Absolutely. Exercise is always something that really, you know, gets the endorphins going.

KING: It works?

HAMILL: It works. However, having said that, when you're depressed, the last thing in the world you want to do is to exercise. So ...

KING: When you're in the throes of a depression, you don't go out on the ice?

HAMILL: Well, no. Fortunately, I have not had one of those really debilitating episodes for about a year. And so exercise, absolutely. But that doesn't just do it for me.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Lori in San Angelo, Texas. "Looking back as a role model for young girls, how do you feel about the famous haircut that you inspired? And what do you do now to inspire young girls?" Did that haircut inspire girls?

HAMILL: It did way back then, yes. But it's been, what, 31 years. So there are not too many people, certainly not girls that remember that. I don't know how to inspire young girls today. They inspire me. But, you know, that was the beginning of sort of wash- and-wear hair because of Vidal Sassoon suit.

KING: They called that the Hamill cut, did they?

HAMILL: They did, or the wedge. I think technically Vidal Sassoon created it and it was the wedge.

KING: Did he cut you?

HAMILL: He didn't. A little man by the name of Suga who became my dearest friend.

KING: Has pictures in the book.

HAMILL: Yeah. And he passed away, unfortunately.

KING: He passed away?

HAMILL: He passed away, unfortunately.

KING: Dorothy Hamill. Still to come -- Dorothy not only faced depression but bankruptcy, too. We'll get into that when we come back.


KING: We're back with Dorothy Hamill. What caused you to go bankrupt?

HAMILL: Well, another series of events. And primarily what it was, was we had purchased IceCapades and I was supposed to be the creative side of it ...

KING: You and your husband?

HAMILL: Yes. And then we had an investor. And our investor got into some trouble with his other companies and wanted someone to buy him out. So we were kind of up against a wall and our investor stopped funding.

KING: So it was the company ...

HAMILL: So I started funding it with my personal money, knowing that this deal we were working on would closed and would I get my money back. And then was with when it was all over, the only way to get my money back was to sue and I just was not - I didn't have thick enough skin for that.

KING: An e-mail from Rex in Philadelphia - "What is your opinion on the U.S. ladies who won Olympic gold medals after you, Kristy, Tara and Sarah? And what do you think of Michelle Kwan not giving up her eligibility?

HAMILL: Oh, boy, that's a tough one. Kristy, beautiful. Sarah Hughes, she was the star that night, absolutely.

KING: Tara?

HAMILL: Tara Lipinski. Yeah. She's been injured. I think of the moves the girls have to do today, they get injured so quickly.

KING: And Miss Kwan.

HAMILL: And Michelle Kwan. Talk about a woman who has really sort of changed the face of finger skating. It was Michelle. And she's injured. She hasn't given up her Olympic eligibility status but, you know, she's professional, so she's not ever going to have to worry about making a living.

KING: One more e-mail from Julie in Visalia, California -- "Your favorite figure skater in the past 30 years?"

HAMILL: Oh, in the past 30 years? Hmm. I would say Brian Boitano is right up there with one of them, Kurt Browning (ph), Yuka Sato. I don't know. Torvel and Dean (ph). There are so many for so many reasons.

KING: How good were you?

HAMILL: Actually not that good. Not that good. But I did it kind of when the chips were down. And in those days it was figures, short program and free skating. So it was whoever was sort of the best all around. So I happened to get lucky that time.

KING: We only have about 30 seconds. What is it like when you fall?

HAMILL: You kind of have to sort of get up and sort of move on and try not to think about it. Otherwise it wrecks the rest of the routine.

KING: But doesn't it affect the rest of the routine?

HAMILL: In shows, it doesn't at all. But in competition it does. That's why you have to be really prepared and not let it really distract you. Otherwise you have to realize ...

KING: You have fallen and still won competitions?


KING: It's hard, right, because you're way behind?

HAMILL: Yep, yep.

KING: Dorothy, best of luck to you.

HAMILL: Larry, thank you. So nice seeing you again.

KING: Great seeing you. One of my favorite people. Dorothy Hamill. The book is "A Skating Life: My Story."

As always, head to our Web site, You can e- mail tomorrow night's guest, financial expert Suze Orman off download our new podcast, Whoopi Goldberg. All our upcoming guests are listed there. It's all at one great place,

And now the man of the hour, my pal and a man who sat across the dining room tonight from me where I was eating dinner, he was eating dinner. Anderson Cooper and AC 360. Anderson, it's yours.