Throwbacks!

I’ve been fortunate to experience “Forrest Gump-ian moments” in my life. Flashes of history with a lot of celebrity interviews thrown in for good measure. And, let me just say, they all put their pants on the same way. They all have insecurities. All of them. I’ve always said soap opera actors and country music stars are among the nicest.

Willie Nelson still ranks as my favorite. Dude is so Type B, he almost made me nervous. Almost. I was too busy having fun – hanging out with him on his tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose, and learning how to play golf on his computer (Pebble Beach). He even entertained me and sang for me on guitar. Yes, I was in Willie’s bedroom, but it was all business. That evening, he winked at me on-stage as I hung out in the wings. Way too cool.

For some reason, I must have been putting out the vibe to hang out with the rich and famous. I’ll always remember with fondness the designer Bill Blass, who waved up a stairway in New York’s Pierre Hotel, so I can hang out with him and his partner and watch the fashionable socialites arriving below. Made for a great story.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Ronald Reagan when he was running for President the first time. It was about two weeks before my 21st birthday, and I asked him, “Why should I as a 21-year-old college student vote for Ronald Reagan?” He didn’t hesitate. “So you can have the same freedoms at 21 that I had.” He was beyond gracious. A lovely man.

Will I name my least favorites or unpleasant experiences? Nah. But I will say there was one who verbally attacked me in a drunken rage just for being a reporter. Bless his heart. I really don’t think he meant any harm.

Actors, politicians, musicians, fashion designers, authors, beauty queens … I actually feel the most comfortable doing celeb interviews. The goal, of course, is to always make a subject feel comfortable enough to spill his (or her) guts. I’ve seen my share of family photos and tears. It’s an honor to capture such humanity.

Hindsight being foresight, I wish I had photos with all of them. But they will be forever etched in my mind. Or, as one of my favorites, Bob Hope, put it: “Thanks for the memories.”

Just for fun, I made a list of my celeb interviews:

Trace Adkins

Susan Akin, Miss America 1986

Terrell Anthony (soap actor)

Letitia Baldrige (etiquette maven/author)

Lucille Ball

Bill Blass

Kirk Cameron

Glen Campbell

Keith Carradine

Dixie Carter

Bart Conner (Olympic gymnast)

David Copperfield

Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump on “The Andy Griffith Show”)

Mac Davis

Oscar de la Renta

Phyllis Diller

Barbara Eden

Michael English

Bob Hope

Mick Fleetwood

Crystal Gayle

Danny Glover

Lee Greenwood

Dick Gregory

Jessica Hahn (Jim Bakker/PTL scandal)

Tommy Hilfiger

Bob Hope

Lena Horne

Iman

Laurence Lau (“All My Children”)

Ralph Lauren

Robin Leach

Rich Little

Kenny Loggins

Ali MacGraw

Mountain Man (“Duck Dynasty”)

Barbara Mandrell

Scotty McCreery

John McVie of Fleetwood Mac

Ronnie Milsap

Greg Morris (“Mission Impossible”)

Willie Nelson

Oak Ridge Boys

Jim Palmer

M. Scott Peck

Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Miss America 1988

President Ronald Reagan

Smokey Robinson

Michael Rooker

Darius Rucker

Claudia Schiffer

Tom Selleck

Tommy Shaw (Styx)

Brooke Shields

Richard Simmons

André Leon Talley

Elizabeth Taylor

Butch Trucks

Gino Vannelli

Ruth Warwick (Phoebe Wallingford on “All My Children,” young actress in “Citizen Kane”)

Sharlene Wells, Miss America 1985

Walt Willey (“All My Children”)

Tom Wopat

Kim Zimmer (soap actress)