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King of the Q & A

What Do Clint Eastwood, Jack Kemp, Richard Nixon and the Beatles have in common? they were all interviewed by David Frost.
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 6)

There may still be other fields to conquer. "Yes, there are things I have not done that I would like to do," says Frost. "But it's probably something that is not yet around. One always wants to be where the new frontiers are and try and find them and seize the opportunities. But one can really only guess what they are until they come along."

He has spent so much of his career, as he has said, trying to find out what makes other people tick. Has he learned in those years what makes him tick?

He thinks he has. "There's a lot of my father's and mother's philosophy in me," he says, "in that I hate wasting time. I don't like wasting money, either, but I really hate wasting time. There's the sense of having a duty to use what time you may be given to the fullest. I guess it's a very Methodist, a very Puritan idea. And there's also something else. My father often used to quote an obscure Turkish proverb, which was that 'Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.' I love it, because it underlines the fact that everybody, a taxi driver or a monarch, has something to teach you, and it's up to you to find it."

Frost is fond of asking his subjects how they would like to be remembered after they are gone, so it seems only fair to pose that question. For such a public figure, his reply is surprising.

"When I asked Moshe Dayan what he would like people to say about him after he was dead, he looked at me and said, 'Say about me after I'm dead? But that's what I'm dead for: not to care what people say about me.' There's a lot of wisdom in that. People worry so much about what their contemporaries say about them.If you worry about what posterity will think, you'll never do anything risky."

He pauses--that moment of silence. It is a good silence. "I think," he says, "that if I turn out to be half as good a father to our three boys as my father was to me, then I'll be very happy indeed."

Mervyn Rothstein is an editor at The New York Times and a frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator.

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