Monday, September 5, 2011

Mary Hart walks down 'ET' memory lane

Monday, September 5, 2011

  • Memorable meeting: Elizabeth Taylor sat down with Mary Hart in 2007.


    Memorable meeting: Elizabeth Taylor sat down with Mary Hart in 2007.


Memorable meeting: Elizabeth Taylor sat down with Mary Hart in 2007.

Elizabeth Taylor, Southern belle

Circa: March 1985

Mary's memory: "Elizabeth Taylor passing recently has made me think back to when I went on the set of North and South (1985) and interviewed her in Charleston, S.C.. It was my first meeting with her and when she came down, it was much like Scarlett O'Hara coming down the staircase to meet Rhett Butler. She came down in this Southern belle gown that was absolutely gorgeous and so fitting for Dame Elizabeth. And we sat down and she was charming, positively charming. But boy, when my time was up, my time was up. It didn't matter that I'd come across the country."

2008 presidentialcampaign candidates

Circa: Summer 2008

Mary's memory: "That was a highlight for me because being out there in that venue of the political campaigns, being in Detroit at the huge rally that both the Obamas and the Bidens attended and interviewing the four of them together, Michelle and Jill and Joe and Barack — it was a thrill for me, and they were so nice. They were thoughtful. All four of them had a lot to say, and it was terrific. And then I went down to Florida, and I met and interviewed Sarah Palin at her big rally. Being in the midst of that and seeing how they reacted under the pressure, seeing them perform onstage and then talking to them right afterward, you really get a sense of somebody. And the same with John McCain. I went to Sedona, Ariz., and with him, we sat down at their house."

Richard Pryor, ailing comedian

Circa: October 1992 and November 1999

Mary's memory: Pryor had numerous medical problems through the years, including several heart attacks and multiple sclerosis. "We were sitting in his living room, and he had an increasingly difficult time talking. I went back to just go over letters from fans. And ultimately, he couldn't even speak to me. ... I can count many a time when I was overwhelmed by tears.

Frank Sinatra, intimidator

Circa: September 1988

Mary's memory: "Waiting for him to come in probably was the most nervous I got before an interview. Just the anticipation of Frank Sinatra, who was an intimidating figure to most everybody. I think it was about an hour and a half of waiting. We were in a small room. Everybody knew that Frank Sinatra was not an easy interview. He was really reluctant — in fact, hated certain journalists. So I got myself worked up into a full-on anxiety attack practically. And yet when he finally came in and he sat down, he was very serious, and then he started talking and he was perfectly fine.."

Rod Stewart, duet partner

Circa: October 2009

Mary's memory: "I got to watch a private concert with Rod Stewart as he was rehearsing for an upcoming tour back then in '82. I saw him leaping from platform to platform on his rehearsal set. It was pretty phenomenal. And then cut to (more recently) going to Rod's house. He's getting ready to go on tour again for his Great American Songbook. We sat in his living room, did the interview, then we went into his rehearsal area inside his house. He had this whole studio where he could record and rehearse — his entire band, backup singers, the whole deal, and then he says, 'Come on, sing with me.'"

9/11 shows, patriotic themes

Circa: Sept. 11, 2001, and days after

Mary's memory: "What we did with our 9/11 shows for that entire week and much of the next week (because live newscasts pre-empted regular broadcasts), we did some of our most beautiful shows and they never made it to air. If they did, they might have been on at 3 a.m. or something. We had to fulfill that obligation of doing a show, but the news was 24/7 from Ground Zero. We had some incredibly patriotic shows that nobody saw."

Michael Jackson, master

Circa: February 1988

Mary's memory: "It was before all the plastic surgery and before so much of the weirdness and the things that ultimately started turning people off and against him. I spent time watching him rehearse. Obviously, the world, with This Is It, saw the behind-the-scenes and how much in control Michael was. He was the master, and I saw that years before anybody got to witness it first-hand."

Christmastime with Laura Bush, gracious first lady

Circa: December 2008

Mary's memory: "We were invited to have Christmas dinner with the president and Mrs. Bush. I went in and did an interview with her beforehand. Well, little did anybody know until just before dinner that the president had flown over to Iraq to surprise the troops. Mrs. Bush got up and she apologized, saying 'I'm really sorry, but George decided to go and visit the troops, so it's just me here with you.' Just seeing the White House decorated for Christmas, it was spectacular."

'We Are the World' 2010 recording session

Circa: Feb. 1, 2010

Mary's memory: "I was inside the control room for the re-recording of the second one. And there were my buddies: Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, the masterminds behind the first one. It was remarkable to see all of that singing talent come together once again."

Beatles interview, a teen's dream

Circa: September 2009

Mary's memory: "I was a huge Beatles fan. When I finally, finally got to interview Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, it was really an incredible trip down memory lane. Paul was so gracious. He wasn't bored about talking about those early days in Liverpool, about his first meeting with John (Lennon)."

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