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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews with Danielle Steel, Tom Brokaw, Deborah Norville, Ed McMahon, Engelbert Humperdinck
Aired November 11, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING LIVE, TALK SHOW HOST: Tonight, the private Danielle Steel goes public with family tragedy. Deborah Norville shares her early career struggles and Tom Brokaw talks big about another generation this time the boomer, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. A return visit with Tom Brokaw, our old friend, the former anchor, managing editor of NBC nightly news with Tom Brokaw what a famous show that was. He is author of four best sellers including the "Greatest Generation." His new book is "Boom! Voices of the Sixties," why Boom?
TOM BROKAW, AUTHOR OF "BOOM! VOICE OF THE SIXTIES": It's a play on Baby Boomers. Also, I think, that it kind of summarizes with the time that I'm talking about the 1960s. Suddenly we went from crew cuts to long hair, boom, from women who were wearing girdles and bras to women who were not, boom. We had people who questioned American authority, boom, overnight. So I just thought it was the appropriate punctuation for that time, Larry.
KING: Thomas, are you chronicling the decades?
BROKAW: Well, that was not my intention. I wrote World War II as we've talked about on this broadcast before because I was raised at the beginning of that war and then went to Normandy and it was an epiphanies experience for me. I wrote about the '60s because I was a child of the '50s who came of age in the '60s as a reporter when the world really turned inside out for a long time. And I was always fascinated by our ability to recover from that and then to measure the changes that lasted and the changes that didn't last. It was a very dynamic time, not just in America but around the world. I wrote, however, about what was going on here that I saw through my lens.
KING: Was the Kennedy assassination the start of it?
BROKAW: It was in my judgment, Larry. When you think about what that triggered it brought in Lyndon Johnson. He escalates Vietnam. We go from this youthful, idealistic president with very stylish people around them to Lyndon Johnson who was poll out of the old school. By 1968 Lyndon Johnson is forced to step down because of what is going on in Vietnam. The closer has been turned on its head, as I say.
People are going into the streets to protest the war. Dr. King is killed. The president's own brother is killed. We send men around the moon and then to the moon. At the end of the '60s came after Richard Nixon resigned in 1973, he too, was part of the ferment if you will of the early years because Richard Nixon had taken himself out of politics you'll remember. So, you won't have dick Nixon to kick around anymore and then he gets elected twice president of United States before he resigns in disgrace.
KING: A lot about this extraordinary book is about you and the impact of the 1960s. What was Tom Brokaw in the '60s?
BROKAW: Well, in the beginning of the 1960s, Meredith and I were married. In 1962 we moved to Omaha, then to Atlanta where I began covering the civil rights movement and got to know Andy Young who is in this book and saw Dr. King (INAUDIBLE), moved to California fairly shortly after that in 1966 and began covering this actor who was running for governor and a lot of the people at NBC News in Los Angeles thought he didn't have a chance so they put the new kid on his campaign and it was Ronald Reagan.
So, you had simultaneously the rise of Ronald Reagan and the rise of the counterculture going on at the same time. I always felt like I had one foot in each generation so to speak. I was 26, 27. I was a father of two. About to be the father of three and yet around me were all these young people who are just a few years younger than I was and they had a completely different take on the world. So, it was a fascinating time to be both a citizen and specially to be a journalist.
KING: Does it surprise you when you run into people now under 30 who know little if anything about that era?
BROKAW: Yes, it does. Actually, what they really know for the most part is the music. That's the most enduring legacy. I mean Paul Simon can still fill a great concert hall. James Taylor can, Neil Young can, Joni Mitchell, all this great artist from time. Judy Collins who is in this book reflecting that era and they think of the '60s as mostly I believe Flower Children, and Baines (ph), and Hippie Good Times (ph). It was a lot more complex than that.
KING: Were the beetles the forefront, too?
BROKAW: They were. The Beetles, I think they helped introduce that new sound but the man that all the musicians give the most credit to is Bob Dylan. He really made music a message and as Judy Collins said to me, you know, there was an audience out there for the stories that we wanted to tell about our lives.
KING: How do the '60s play into today?
BROKAW: I think in a variety of ways. I think that we have made many more advances than people are willing to acknowledge. The place of women is much different in our society because of the '60s and that came a little later in the '60s by the way. Certainly, the most profound change domestically for us was the civil rights movement and the Civil Right Act of 1964 followed by the voting rights act. That changed America.
We're still in mid stream in terms of working out race relations in this country and developing a language for dealing with it. There was a great phrase that came out of the '60s called "The personal is political" and it grew out of the women's movement and the right of choice and the idea in the eyes of the activist. Well, that's now been applied to everybody and as a result of the '60s we're a much more divided society. Most people make a judgment about their politics based on a very narrow interest that they may have reflecting their personal interest. I hope that the election of 2008 will be winding down that attitude and that we'll find a way to develop some common ground, whoever is the winner.
KING: You mentioned the civil rights movement. Since you covered him, what was it like to be in that church when Martin Luther King spoke?
BROKAW: It was electrifying. I was a one-time visitor, so to speak, so I was sitting way up in the balcony. The regular parishioners were there. It was a magical time. It was -- I don't believe in American history in more electrifying orator than Dr. King. You think about the "I have a dream" speech or the speech that he made the night before. He was so cruelly shot down in Memphis. He had an ability to reach into everyone in this country and touch the moral chord that needed to be touched about the place of race in our lives.
KING: We'll spend some more moments with Tom Brokaw, one of my favorite people. His new book is "Boom! Voices of the Sixties," don't go away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're here to say good-bye to us and we don't have a good word for it in English. The best is au revoir. We'll see you again.
KING: We're back with Tom Brokaw. The book is "Boom! Voices of the Sixties." What was the low point in your opinion of the '60s?
BROKAW: Well, I think the first six or seven months of 1968 were pretty low. We had Dr. King killed. We had Bobby Kennedy killed. We had the offensive in Vietnam, the riots in Chicago, the great urban riots around Dr. King's assassination. The country seemed to be coming apart. And it all happened fairly swiftly. In the early part of 1967, this country was still on its post 50s track, so to speak. The war had not yet gone to critical mass in the eyes of a lot of people. There was a rising tide of criticism about it.
But by 1968, we really were coming unhinged in so many ways. Parental authority was being challenged. Cops were being called pigs. There was a great deal of duplicity about how well the war was going. You had people forget this but in August of 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia which was trying to show some signs of democracy and liberalization. This was going on not just here but around the world. I think that was a very, very tough year and one that we have not yet completely figured out, Larry.
KING: And the democratic convention in Chicago which was seemed like a party torn apart and yet it runs in one of the closest races in American election history. BROKAW: It did. And a lot of the young activists who walked away from Hubert Humphrey now say that was a mistake. We should have supported him. Because for them, they ended up with Richard Nixon and that led to fall them away to Watergate and no resolution of Vietnam at all. It also marked something else. It marked the end of the Franklin Roosevelt great coalition that held the Democratic Party together for so long. You had Urban Catholics and labor and a lot of rural people and especially in the south in the Democratic Party.
But after the Civil Right Act, the Republican Party was able to capitalize on some resistance to the Civil Right Act and especially the Republican Party was able to capitalize on those young activists who had a lot of tactics but no strategy who were burning flags and carrying Vietcong flags and waving Mao booklets and the Republican Party of Richard Nixon went right after what Pat Buchanan called the silent majority and that elected not only Nixon but elected Ronald Reagan to two terms and George Bush for one term and his son to two terms. It was a seismic shift in American politics as a result of what went on then.
KING: In your research, Tom, what surprised you as you researched your memory?
BROKAW: Oh, I think what surprised me most of all is that it had so many more parts to it than we realized at the time. And that there were these great, conflicted feelings. I think what heartened me most of all is that we were able to survive it, that the country held, including the constitutional crisis of Watergate, and what was most reassuring is that the Vietnam Veterans, who fought in an unpopular war and saw their friends die all around them.
So, many of them came back to a very hostile country. They were told to change into civilian clothes when they got to San Francisco. And yet, many of those that I talked to are the most resolved, centered people that you can possibly imagine. Some of them are well known obviously. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Colin Powell, John McCain, Bob Kerrey. Others took a real emotional toll. There is a great story in this book about a young couple that met during Vietnam. He lost a leg. He was a hockey star at Brown. He met her at Walter Reed Hospital. Vietnam defined their lives. And now they're reaching out to Iraq Veterans to try to help them. I think that they're emblematic really, The Coakleys (ph), Tom and Nellie, of that generation of people who served in Vietnam.
KING: Was there anyone you wanted to talk to that you couldn't or wouldn't?
BROKAW: No. I -- most people were willing to talk about it. Neil Young didn't want to talk about it because he said he didn't want to go back. He only wants to look forward but he's given enough interviews that I was able to reflect his ideas in there and I didn't talk to everyone. I didn't talk to some of the more conspicuous figures because they've written their own stories. Jane Fonda for example, her life so far is -- "My Life So Far" is a book that she's written about her own time there. I wanted to find people who were out there, if you will, in the fabric of American life and who were conflicted in some cases about what was going on, who dealt with the '60s in their own way. So I have a very wide range of people, as I say, it's everyone from Karl Rove to Arlo Guthrie. Dorothy Rabonowitz (ph) is a very conservative columnist who lost a journal to Gloria Steinem as an example. Andy Young to people who were black power advocates at that time. Ruth Simmons was the president of Brown University. The first black woman to be a president of Ivy and an afro she says out to here and she believed in black power at that time. Big changes.
KING: Where have all the flowers gone? Thank you, Tom.
BROKAW: My pleasure, Larry.
KING: Tom Brokaw, great guy, great book. The book is "Boom! Voices Of The '60s". If you're watching LARRY KING LIVE, will be right back.
KING: It's always a great pleasure to welcome Ed McMahon to LARRY KING LIVE, the entertainment icon, television personality. He spent three decades on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and is author of a new book "When Television Was Young, Live, Spontaneous and in Living Black and White" and a terrific read. What led you to write this?
ED MCMAHON, AUTHOR OF "WHEN TELEVISION WAS YOUNG, LIVE, SPONTANEOUS AND IN LIVING BLACK AND WHITE": Well the gentlemen that worked with me on the book I wrote about Johnny, "Here's Johnny", Larry Stone. He had this theory. He said we got to write a book about the early days of television and he kind of sold me on the idea and said you're the man to write it because you were there. I get started, 1949. And that's when television was just beginning. The big show of the day was "Howdy Doody" and that came on at 5:30. And I started in Philadelphia. I was the host of a three-hour daily, live variety show. The producer and the writer, the make-up man, I was everybody.
KING: Were you doing radio at the time, too?
MCMAHON: I have been doing radio but I was just gotten out of the service. Had gone to school Catholic University in Washington, graduated that spring, got my first job, September 12th, 1949, and it was just beginning. It was great. You did everything. And I think I had the first afternoon show in the country. Because the shows came on at 5:30 at night. That's when "Howdy Doody" was on.
KING: Test pattern.
MCMAHON: Oh, yes. That's the first picture of the book. It's a test pattern.
KING: Did you know it would be what it became? MCMAHON: Oh, I think so, yes. Because we'd heard so much about it. You know, the idea of pictures through the air. That was a big deal. You could send a picture through the air. And I was so happy. I had done radio. I've been in radio before the war. So, now I was happy to be in the new thing, the new thing on the block and that was television.
KING: Where were you when color came in?
MCMAHON: Well, color, you know, they were experimenting right from the beginning they fooled around with color and it was very secretive. You know, NBC was doing a secret show in color and they wouldn't let anybody know. There is a good story about the first color broadcast. Jerry Lewis, if you can imagine this, Jerry Lewis, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and some woman I don't remember, a singer, they did a color broadcast from a secret studio at 30 Rock and it was sent to Princeton where Albert Einstein viewed it. And then Lewis and Bojangles and this lady drove to Princeton to get his reaction. Now, would you like to see that scene? Lewis and Einstein together?
KING: The stars of early television.
KING: The Howdy Doodys, would they be stars today?
MCMAHON: Oh, I think so. Yes. Howdy Doody could make it today, I think. And a lot of the early stars. The, you know, Lucy and Desi are still...
KING: Jerry Lester?
MCMAHON: Sure. He was great. He was the beginning of the Tonight Show. You know, I was the star of a Broadway Open House and he had that fabulous statuette at...
KING: Dagmar (ph).
MCMAHON: Remember Dagmar (ph)?
KING: How about all those live dramas?
MCMAHON: They were wonderful. You know, "Playhouse 90." The Philco house was all of great -- and look at the people that came through there
MCMAHON: You know, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda. You name it. Everybody had seen that. Charlton Heston did that.
KING: The directors, Franken Hammert (ph) came through.
KING: And you came through there. MCMAHON: Yes.
KING: You were working. There must have been lot of funny things happened, mistakes, errors, cameras, people falling down.
MCMAHON: Yes. They told stories about somebody being shot in a scene and then you see him walking by the window.
KING: There was no tape.
MCMAHON: No tape, the only data was kinescope which was really a film of a television screen but it was very poor quality and that was the only recording they had. There was no tape. No recording of any kind.
KING: How did you meet Johnny?
MCMAHON: I met Johnny as an audition. They were looking for a new announcer for a game show called "Who Do You Trust" and they called me up to New York. I was working in Philadelphia. They brought me up to New York. I had a very uneventful meeting with him. Because we were both watching out a window. He had his window, I had my window. Across the street, we were in the little theater. Across the street was the Shubert Theater and they were lifting up this giant marquee. They were four cranes on 44 Street (ph). And we were fascinated by that.
KING: That was your interview?
MCMAHON: My interview went as follows. He said where did you go to school? I said the Catholic University in Washington. He said what are you doing now? I said, well, I've got a lot of shows in Philadelphia but I come to New York every day, try out for commercials. And he said that's wonderful. He gave me that handshake, you know, the handshake out the door handshake. You know, it was nice seeing you. And I was out the door and I figured I didn't get that job and then about three weeks later, the phone rings and it's the producer and he says, Johnny would like you to wear suits. I said what? He says, Johnny wants to wear sports clothes. He wants you to wear suits to emphasize your size. And I said, what are you talking about? He said, oh, didn't they call you? You got the job. You start Monday. That's how I started a 34-year career with him.
KING: Did you hit it off right away?
MCMAHON: Immediately. The very first day I worked. I was a little nervous. I've got to read all the copy line for the sponsors. There were six sponsors for the day. He set fire to my script. So I knew from day one, we were going to be pals. If he could get away with that we were going to be buddies.
KING: Shouldn't it have been "Whom Do You Trust"?
MCMAHON: That would have been more grammatically correct. But who cares?
KING: That was a pretty good quiz show by the way.
MCMAHON: It was a good show and it showed Jim at his best. Doing that interview, comic remarks, comic lines, you know, he was at his best doing that.
KING: And you worked off him well.
MCMAHON: Oh, yes. Thank you.
KING: Television was so, in those days, trying anything.
KING: Quiz and bowling.
KING: And wrestling.
MCMAHON: Yes. Wrestling was big. That was very big.
KING: And (INAUDIBLE).
MCMAHON: Oh, yes.
KING: And when did it boom for you? When did you know, I'm going to settle into that. I'm going to make a life in this.
MCMAHON: Well, I know it kind of on "Who Do You Trust" with Johnny. You know, he was so hot. I knew he wasn't going to stop there. He was going to go onto greater things and I figured I might as well tag along with him and go right along the same way.
KING: Any regrets? Everything was great?
MCMAHON: Not really. I had a very charmed life. I've had a wonderful career. I still have a career and I'm still working. And, no, I have no regrets.
KING: How old are you Ed?
MCMAHON: I'm 84 1/2. You know little kids when you say how old you are, 5 1/2. Well I'm 84 1/2.
KING: Bless you.
MCMAHON: Thank you, Larry. Good to see you again.
KING: You're a blessing.
MCMAHON: Thank you.
KING: Ed McMahon. They don't come like him. When you say one of a kind, you say Ed McMahon. The book is "When Television Was Young, Live, Spontaneous and in Living Black and White."
KING: Great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. A terrific broadcaster Deborah Norville, the anchor of "Inside Edition" and an author of the new book "Thank You Power," making the science of gratitude work for you. What inspired you to write this, Deborah?
DEBORAH NORVILLE, AUTHOR OF "THANK YOU POWER": You know, Larry, it was just this hunch I had. I had this sense that when I focused on what was working in my life, my life went better. But, you know, doing what I do as a journalist I'm enough of a skeptic. I thought, you know, it's better because you want it to be. So, I said put on the reporter hat, see if anybody credible has actually researched this to see if there are measurable benefits to counting your blessings and that's what the book is all about. It's the result of my own personal odyssey to see if there was proof and the answer is a resounding, man, is there ever.
KING: And hence the word science?
NORVILLE: Yes. This is a book, when you flip to the back, you'll see an index that is loaded with footnotes of academic papers and scientific journals from which I got the information. Every quote-unquote "claim" that's in the book is backed up by scientific data. So when I say you'll be more active, you'll be less prone to headaches and allergy attacks, you'll be more resilient in times of distress and you'll actually be able to physically undo the negative effects of stress, I've got scientific, academic reports that back every one of those claims up.
KING: What, Deborah, is "Thank You Power"?
NORVILLE: That is really the term I coined, Larry, to try to encapsulate what I had discovered. It is really -- it starts with gratitude, it starts with writing down your blessings. And every psychologist that I interviewed for the book says that there is something that they don't quite have their finger on it, but there is something to the act of physically writing down those things for which you believe your life has been bettered.
And it doesn't have to be the grand things like, hey, I won the lottery or I got a spanking new car. It's usually the small benefits that are the most resounding for us. It can be the unexpected "I love you" from somebody you care about. It can be the e-mail from a long lost friend. It can even be a sunrise or sunset as you're getting up or going to bed in the evening.
KING: So is it easy to put it to work for you?
NORVILLE: You know, that's a thing that's so cool. Of all the character strengths, and I interviewed the guy who actually quantified the 24 signature strengths of humans, there are three that are most resounding. And one of them is gratitude. The other is love. And the other is hope. Hope and love are kind of hard to come by. If you're a despicable individual or you have got just an outrageously difficult situation, hope is hard and love is hard, but gratitude anyone can grow. If you can find one thing in your life that you feel benefits you, it then makes it easier for two more to come and two more and two more and it grows exponentially and that's what -- the strength is called the "upward spiral." Gratitude makes it possible for you to actually open your thinking and see possibilities and see connections that weren't there before.
And, you know, since the book has been out a couple of weeks, people have been e-mailing me and I am just knocked out by the blessings that folks are finding simply by writing down what they see as a benefit. One lady said, you know what? I've decided to start my own business. My husband says he sees less stress on my face.
She has decided to live life instead of focus on all the things that aren't working. She has realized how many other things are working in her life and her life is enormously enhanced as a result.
KING: You put a lot of emphasis on faith. Is that essential?
NORVILLE: No it's not. You know, that's the thing that I think is kind of wonderful about "Thank You Power." If you are a religious person, whatever your faith, thanksgiving is probably a part of your faith. Whether it's Judaism, Muslim, Buddhism, Christianity, all of the great religions of the world do practice thanksgiving and admonish its practitioners to give thanks to the creator.
But gratitude doesn't have to have the religious component to it. It is just as vibrant for someone who absolutely denies that there is an existence of God or anybody else out there and the benefits are there.
KING: When tough times hit you, when you succeeded Jane Pauley and people were critical and you had to go through that period, did you use this?
NORVILLE: I did without realizing it, I think. I've always been one of these people who tends to try to find the silver lining in the darkest cloud. And when I was going through that difficult trial professionally, I was focusing on the things that were working.
You know, they could say I was younger and blonder and I was somehow pushing Jane Pauley out of "The Today Show," but they didn't say I did a lousy interview. They didn't say I wasn't worthy of the Emmy that I won during that period of time. So I tried to focus on the good things and not let myself be brought down by the bad things.
KING: By the way, as an aside, what do you think of what Katie Couric has faced?
NORVILLE: I think it has been so difficult for her. And I think, you know, one of the things that the brass at CBS would probably in 20/20 hindsight acknowledge is they oversold it. It was going to be a big story. You had Katie on and did a lot of coverage of her coming on the "Evening News," and it was going to be a big story. They didn't need to hype it up. I mean, "Broadcasting & Cable Magazine" said they spent something like $23 million in extra publicity. Katie didn't need that. The "CBS Evening News" didn't need that. They probably needed to undersell and over-deliver, but it didn't happen.
You know, now the question is will the media -- really, because I think the brass will definitely give her the time that it takes to find a footing and get the broadcast. And I think it's an infinitely greater improved broadcast, but will the media back off and let her do what she needs to do?
I never had the luxury of having the media back off and let me settle into my job. I'd like to think that Katie is given that opportunity.
KING: This book is praised by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Donald Trump, Ken Blanchard, Joan Rivers, Stephen Covey, and Tony Robbins, well worth all that praise. "Thank You Power," the author, Deborah Norville. Thank you, Deborah.
NORVILLE: Thank you, Larry. I do appreciate it.
KING: My pleasure. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: She may be the best-selling author ever in the history of the world. She is Danielle Steel, prolific, she has written 82 novels, a score of nonfiction books. Her latest is "Amazing Grace." There you see its covers.
You don't do a lot of interviews.
DANIELLE STEEL, AUTHOR, "AMAZING GRACE": I don't do any interviews. I do maybe one every 10, 15 years.
STEEL: I am a very private person. I'm very shy. I have a lot of children and especially when they were young I tried very hard to stay out of the public light and out of the sort of public eye.
And there are a number of causes that are very important to me and so now I'm coming out more and so I have a chance to talk a little more about things I care about.
KING: We're happy to have you here.
STEEL: Thank you. It's a great honor to be here.
KING: Did you write as a kid?
STEEL: I did but I didn't mean to. I was very into the visual arts. I studied design. I wanted to be a designer. But for fun I wrote and my father said that I wrote my first book at 5 with corrugated cardboard covers and I made my own book. And I always wrote for pleasure and I never really thought about writing professionally.
KING: Do you resent being called a woman's novelist, that you write books for women?
STEEL: I don't resent it but it's not accurate. Apparently my readership is 30, 35 percent male. And I have to admit I'm always very proud when a man comes up to me and says, oh, I loved your last book, because I think if I am perceived as a woman's writer, it takes greater courage for them to read it. And I think men prefer to read nonfiction. Men prefer to read fiction written by men so when a man reads my book, it's really a victory.
KING: What is -- "Amazing Grace" is about an earthquake?
STEEL: It's about an earthquake. I get ideas out of the air and I suddenly thought it would be very interesting to create an earthquake a hundred years after the last very big one. And what always fascinates me in writing is putting unusual people together under stressful, unusual -- or not only unusual, also usual circumstances and then what happens.
And so I -- in "Amazing Grace" I brought together four characters: a journalist who has had a very spotty career and is a recovering alcoholic; a nun; and a young teenage super successful rock star; and a young wife whose husband has just committed a crime.
And these people get thrown together during the earthquake and then it's how it develops and how they affect each other's lives.
KING: Is there usually some kind of message?
STEEL: I don't pen them that way, but I do think to some extent and I think the uniting theme in my books is one of hope. They're about the things that happen to all of us. That none of us are exempt from, difficult things sometimes, illness, loss, challenges in life, and what we do with them. And the message that I think is one of hope and I think it's, if I wanted to make a message it would be that.
KING: What -- when you're this successful, and you don't need it for the money, why do you do it?
STEEL: You don't have any choice. It sort of bubbles up in you. At one point I decided to retire. My kids were young and the tabloids had had sort of a field day and I felt too public. And I thought, OK, that's it, I'm not doing this any more.
And I decided that what I would do is I would write and put everything in a vault and they could sell it when I died. Eventually a year-and-a-half later I went back to publishing.
But I don't think you have a choice. You have a story inside and it has to come out of you kind of like a frog with a big bubble coming out of its mouth.
KING: Nine kids?
STEEL: Yes. That is the great joy of my life.
KING: Are you Catholic?
STEEL: Yes. But that's not why I had them.
KING: You had them because you wanted them.
STEEL: I had them because I wanted them and they are the greatest gift of my life and the greatest joy and what matters most to me.
KING: Do you know where your characters are going?
STEEL: When I start a book? Yes. I spend about...
KING: You lay it out?
STEEL: I spend a week -- a week. I spend a year on the outline. And honing it down and changing it and moving pieces around. And then I write the first draft and then I spend about two years editing.
KING: Danielle Steel, the extraordinarily successful, talented Danielle Steel. Her newest is "Amazing Grace". Back with some more after this.
KING: Her newest is "Amazing Grace," it's about an earthquake in San Francisco. Our guest is Danielle Steel. She has already written the one following that, right?
You've got another book that's coming already? Tragedy in your life, you lost a son to suicide.
STEEL: Yes, yes.
KING: Does that affect your writing?
STEEL: I think it affects you as a person. So inevitably it affects your writing. It makes you deeper. I think, unfortunately, there is always the risk that something hard will break you or that it will make you better. And I wanted it to make me more, not less. And I hope it shows in the writing.
KING: Did you write about it?
STEEL: Yes. I wrote a book about him called "His Bright Light." And he was bipolar all of his life and put up a noble fight. And I wanted to share his life and honor him. And I also wanted to help people struggling with the same thing, both sufferers of the illness and those who love them.
KING: After the occurrence, did you stop writing for a while? STEEL: No. I started writing his -- I wrote more, strangely enough. I started the book about him three weeks later. And wonderful things have happened from it. The proceeds go to a foundation that helps fund organizations for the mentally ill and a lot of youthful bipolar suffers and adults.
And families write to me, and I had a letter last week from a young woman who said that I've attempted suicide twice and I was planning my third attempt and I'm bipolar and I read the book and I've decided to go back on my meds and I won't commit suicide for now.
And I was so grateful and he has helped so many people after his life, so his life has been a blessing for me and for many people.
KING: Have you ever started and then torn up a book?
STEEL: I've started outlines and not proceeded with them. But by the time I start a book, I'm pretty -- I know where I'm going. The outlines are about 80 or 100 pages long.
KING: And when you finish, like "Amazing Grace," are you totally satisfied?
STEEL: No. I'm never totally -- well, for about five minutes I think oh, this is my best book. But then I do a lot of editing and then I think it's my best book ever and then my editor will say, no, no, no, no, no, no. Now you go to work. And then I do two years of rewrites.
KING: Two years. How important is the editor?
STEEL: Super important. Super important. I always say that writing without an editor is like dressing in the dark because you write it the way you feel it and then you need somebody to say no, no, it droops over here and it is too fast over there and you need to pad this out.
KING: Choosing characters. In "Amazing Grace," why a rock star?
STEEL: They choose me. I wanted to do a very young person who was being controlled by her mother, and to see her take possession of her own life. And the earthquake allows her to do it because it creates an interruption in a career that is being run by a stage mother.
I wanted an opportunity for rebirth for the recovering alcoholic journalist whose career had sort of gone to pot because of his alcoholism before. I loved the idea of writing about the nun and I loved the idea of the young, brilliantly successful couple where it turns out that the husband, who has committed this awful crime, which comes to light because of the earthquake.
KING: Do you write quickly?
STEEL: I do. I do. And then I rewrite very slowly.
KING: Do you use a computer?
STEEL: No. I use a 1946 typewriter.
KING: A Royal?
STEEL: No, an Olympia named Ollie (ph).
KING: It has got a name.
KING: Is it a manual or electric?
STEEL: Manual. Giant, big, fat manual.
KING: Now it's slower isn't it?
STEEL: Well, it has actually I think a very quick keyboard, but if I use an electric, I rest my hands.
KING: Where do you get ribbon?
STEEL: You still can get ribbon and you still can get people to repair them. And it behaves very well and hasn't let me down very often.
KING: Why have you -- you have resisted the computer, why?
STEEL: Yes. I'm not a mechanical person. I now use a computer to do e-mail with my children when they're in college. But basically I -- and it doesn't, you know, e-mail when you do computers, they crash. They eat your book. Ollie doesn't eat my book.
KING: Do you ever envision not writing?
STEEL: No. I hope not. I hope that I do this. People are always talking about stopping and retiring. And I always think why would you do that? I would hope that the stories will keep coming. And I hope I do it until I'm 99 the years old and fall into my typewriter.
KING: I hope so too.
STEEL: Thank you.
KING: As Milton Berle said, retire to what?
KING: Danielle, what an honor, thank you. STEEL: It's a great honor for me. Thank you so much.
KING: Danielle Steel, one of the world's most popular and prolific authors, written scores of best-sellers and her latest is "Amazing Grace". Danielle Steel. Thank you so much.
STEEL: Thank you very, very much.
KING: We'll be right back.
KING: Next time it'll be longer, but I guarantee that we are going to have a good time with the limited time we have with Engelbert Humperdinck, the multi-time Grammy-winner who sold more than 150 million records worldwide. Four decades ago, he hit the U.S. pop charts with the number one smash release, "And Let Me Love Again." He has got a brand new album out "The Winding Road." He is on a new world tour. He is going to be performing at the Tropicana in Atlantic City next month.
What keeps you going?
ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK, MUSICIAN: What keeps me going? I just love what I do, Larry. It's my 40th anniversary and I can't believe that 40 years has gone by since that song "Release Me" came along which stopped The Beatles from having their 13th number one.
KING: Never get tired of singing.
HUMPERDINCK: Never get tired of it. I just love it.
KING: OK. You are a British kid. Your name is Arnold George Dorsey, but you've become an international singing star by calling yourself Engelbert Humperdinck. How did you pick that out?
HUMPERDINCK: I didn't. I had a manager, Gordon Mills, who gave me that name. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a group. But -- you know, it was so long. But he gave everybody their names. He gave Tom Jones his name, he gave Gilbert & Sullivan his name, and he gave me Engelbert Humperdinck. The only difference is that I have -- it takes me longer to sign my name.
KING: Why did it work, do you think?
HUMPERDINCK: I think it worked -- it was a combination of things. You know, it was having the hit record and having -- I grew my sideburns long and I had an image that -- you know, that I suppose people liked. And of course with the song it was a great...
KING: Was "After the Loving" your biggest hit?
KING: No? HUMPERDINCK: It was one of the biggest. I think "Release Me" was the biggest hit. It was number one around the world. You know, and "After the Loving" was number one in the USA and it was a big hit.
KING: Great song.
KING: You had tuberculosis early in your career.
HUMPERDINCK: I did. In my early 20s I came down with tuberculosis. Of course, it had put me out of the business for four years. But I'm just happy that I was alive and I was glad to come back. It was a terrible disease in those days, you know. I was in bed for six months, on my back, and then of course I came around and found my way back into the business.
KING: Is it hard, Engelbert, when music changes and all music changes and people like yourself and Tom Jones and others -- and you still pack them in everywhere you go, you draw, you...
HUMPERDINCK: Thank God.
KING: There are no empty seats. But the records aren't on the radio any more. Is that hard?
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, that is hard. I mean, times have changed because, I mean, today, you know, the music is sort of temporary, because in the early days you had a record company behind you and people were out there pushing buttons, getting your records played on radio and doing your television spots. But today it seems that -- you know, and the computer has taken over and when you download a song and you're doing it for yourself and nobody out there is helping you out.
KING: How did you break through? You broke through in an era, as you said, The Beatles and others, yet you did ballads, right, and you still broke through.
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, and I'm still doing ballads. I think there's a great message in romantic songs. I mean, people get together with, you know, by listening to romantic music. And I'm just proud that I took that avenue, you know, and am still going strong.
KING: Great to see you. You've got a new CD. Tell me about "The Winding Road."
HUMPERDINCK: "The Winding Road," because it is my 40th anniversary, I decided to pay tribute to my own country by doing songs that were all British composers. And there are some great -- they're great in their own right, people like McCartney and Lennon and Sting and James Blunt and people like that, you know. And I've even got a Chapman (ph) song on there which is really nice.
HUMPERDINCK: Yes. KING: You don't sing -- do you sing with an accent?
KING: It always amazes me. You didn't, Matt Monro didn't.
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, I know, I know. It's different. We speak in an English tone but sing with an American flair.
KING: Do they still throw lingerie at you?
HUMPERDINCK: Occasionally, yes. Occasionally they do, yes. What can I say? It started so long ago.
KING: I mean, during the heyday of that, that was the thing...
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, it started way back then, yes. But if it makes them happy, go ahead and do it.
KING: Where is home?
HUMPERDINCK: Home, I have a home in England and I also have a home in L.A. And so I live on both sides of the Atlantic and my wife loves it, the home in England. So she spends a little bit more time than I do over there.
KING: Could you work all the time if you wanted to?
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, I can. But I am doing a great deal of concerts. I mean, I do 120 concerts a year. And at one time I was doing rather more than that, you know, but I like to work. I've just come back from Southeast Asia where it was the people accepting me so wonderfully well and I'm doing this world tour and, you know, I'm going back to Europe to do 16 concerts, you know.
KING: You say, world tour. Do we mean world tour on all continents?
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, indeed. Yes, it is a world tour and I just love traveling and, you know what? The satisfaction of going to countries and people knowing your music and it's just so gratifying. You know, to think I've achieved that, you know, world recognition, wonderful.
KING: "The Winding Road" is now available everywhere?
HUMPERDINCK: Yes, it is. It has been released a couple of weeks ago, yes.
KING: That's Engelbert Humperdinck's "The Winding Road," he is performing in Atlantic City, performing everywhere right now.
HUMPERDINCK: Oh yes.
KING: You are all part of this -- do you make Australia on this tour?
HUMPERDINCK: Oh, not this time, but I'm going next year -- early next, so therefore, you know -- I was there last year so, you know.
KING: You're 71?
HUMPERDINCK: I am, indeed.
KING: You do not look it.
HUMPERDINCK: Yes. Well, you know, it's there.
KING: And you don't sound it. Keep on keeping on...
HUMPERDINCK: Thank you, Larry.
KING: ... your great career.
HUMPERDINCK: Thank you.
KING: Engelbert Humperdinck, they don't come like him. An amazing performer. He keeps on keeping on. The new CD is "The Winding Road." Engelbert Humperdinck, the guest.
Don't forget tomorrow night the always outspoken Judge Judy. And Wednesday, Donnie and Marie Osmond. Now stay tuned for news on CNN where the news comes first.
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