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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  April 17, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with paul anka. idol toone from teen success. we are glad you joined us. king had that said there is right thing. i try to live my life every day we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: paul anka had his first hit "diana" when he was just 15. hit after hit after he remain relevant and end in demand. "myrote a memoir entitled way." ." has a cd entitled "duets the clip you are about to see is from a few years ago.
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♪ ♪ what has he got the things he truly not the words of one who kneels. i took the blows but did it my way ♪ [applause] of a: it is hard to think song with a lyric better than that. toiterally was listening
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aretha franklin. -- sold it. of her version is amazing. you suggested i listen to another. >> i love her. listen to the record. that is one of my favorites. simone and the gipsy kings. tavis: give us a sense of how that came to be. of that in part vegas. he always tease me, and when are you going to write me a song? would put all horses head in
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my bed. i mulled around on it. i hated it. , so thei worked there years ago by. i was in miami, and he was doing a movie, and he called and said, we are going to dinner. take your passport because you never know when you are going to wind up with. waso to dinner, and he during his last album, and sinatra said, i am done. the rat pack is over. i am doing one more album. that really hit me. i go back to new york. everything manifested itself. sinatra has done one more
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album, and i sat down and started typing. theend is near, so i face final curtain. i said, i have got something very interesting. i flew up a week later, and he said, i love it. i am doing it. two weeks later, he said, listen to this. i started crying. it changed my life. it was all about him. it was primarily all about frank. my record company said, why aren't you doing it? i said, i am old enough to write it, but i am not the guy to record its. it is all about him. by moved the presence of mind to know
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not was not for you, you do hear the story too often. >> we wear two hats. -- iyou are the writer only started doing my own stuff because nobody would right for me. secure as to feeling a writer -- you have to cast some music. finished, it was all about right thing for him. i knew i was not going to be the first guy to do it. you need to typecast. if you write it for them and you know them, it works. growinghen i was a kid up in the cornfields of indiana, i was too young to get some humor and the jokes, and i
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was not always tune in to the guests carson had. i just wanted to hear the first two minutes of the show. theme willt show's live forever in my heart. it was through watching carson that allow me to know there was a world beyond the world i was living in. that music. >> i kept it simple. i call it my school song. it put my kids through school. he did not know it was going to be on the air that long. i wanted some comedy relief. they sent me one of johnny carson as a young comic. he had to do a kiddie program. a guy comes over. i pay him.
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we keep in touch. changingging this, this. i want to do a song. i went in a studio, knowing it was not going to last much longer, and i sent it to him. anderson was the leader. he said, i do not want that kid cutting in on me. i will write some music. johnny called. i said, i am giving you have the song. -- half the song. he and i made a bunch of money. >> did you ever regret? >> not at all. take half of something. tavis: you mentioned something that i was impressed by the
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candor and honesty of your and you were cool with them, and they were cool with you. that comes through in this book. there are a lot of people who spend their lives running away from contact with the mob. your honest about the fact you knew these guys. >> we all knew them because they were our bosses. you did not work unless you work for them. we knew who ran the record companies. we knew who control everything. workwere great guys to for. they were cool if you behave yourself. they were well-mannered, well- dressed. through without any incidents.
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of what we are proud you are doing, and thank you for the money you are making. then he winds up on a drum off the florida, and i have nothing to do with it. what are you going to do? i was there when carl plunged his teeth on. i knew frankieou was connected or sammy was connected or dean was connected. when you peel the roof off, let's be careful who is throwing rocks, because that is what this country is about. when i moved to italy it was the same thing. the mob and ran it. they ran it well. them.was a lot of heat on they were very clever. at the bottom of it, they were
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still running the business. >> since you mention them by name, one of the best parts of the book is about your sharing is about your friends in the rat pack. tell me about your relationship with frank. areou have to remember you a young kid. bobby darin and i were close. are we goinghere to go from here. bogner the kids are going to go, and all we have to look at is the rat pack. i did not discover the beatles until a couple years later when i went over there. when you first met sinatra, you are in total awe. he was one of the best friends you could ever have.
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when he liked you, he liked you. you learn so much from him. a lot of things about him were very much and influence on me and everyone else. once you get around that, you get to experience something i do not think we will get to see again. there will never be anyone like francs sinatra. >> dean martin? >> he was a lovable guy. he played to the hilt. it was apple juice. he was the type of guy that would show up in the steam room. we would all walk around nude in front of each other. he would peel off. he liked to go to bed early. he would sit there and watch westerns, and he was just a gentle man, a fun-loving guy. frank adored him.
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he was easy to get along with. c.m.e.? >> c.m.e. is the most talented -- sammy? most talentede guy i have known in my life. always being the boss. y you would learn a lot about how to work and audience, andyou would share a laugh, i met him as a young kid in canada. thenld watch these guys, he was always very kind to me, and he was a people's person. he was unilaterally gracious to a lot of people.
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to be downey wanted frank. i do a big tribute to him. i do it on stage. people are crying, and i am crying. people were not aware how talented this guy was. process theid you the ratmy --embraced by pack and a great entertainer -- how did you as his friend process the way he was maltreated in his career because of his skin color? >> we were very supportive. me when i earlier for was on a bus, and i was the only one allowed off to get food and bring it back to the bus for my
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friends. it was totally a disgrace for me. i would go to my parents and say, what is this? they would not allow him into hotels. just started a moment. and franke humor, used to tease him, but we were totally supportive in getting it done. speaking about canada, something.nka means >> it is the middle eastern name. my grandfather came over from the middle east, and somewhere i looked at it and said, what is it derivative of? my family told me when he lived in a small village, a young girl
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was raped very badly. justice.not much he and his friends took it upon themselves to find the guy. anka.ose is called an they hugged him and left to canada. when they were asked, what is your name? symbolically, my grandfather said, anka. tavis: it really stock? >> its stock. -- it stuck. tavis: you talk about how your mother was your muse. mother and i are just as close. we have relationship where we sit together and have a prayer together. guidance overe
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any decision i make in my life. we hold hands in a huge circle of 30 people, and we pray for the blessings to fall on this show. i know what it is like to have your mother be this close to you. is ashocked me was, here guy this close to his mother. nothing happens without his mother being consulted. you run your lyrics past your mother, but she is dead at 37. >> tough. emotional for me then and now. as my career started, i found out how severe diabetes was. watchers give herself shots. and as my she was ok, successor began, i started
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realizing she was failing, and i was in denial for a while. a home. her we came from a modest background. i was struggling trying to exist and trying to realize this was not going to work out, and she died, practically in my arms. it for a longet time. from me, it was defused. all i wanted was my mother and not the success anymore. a was my dad that was disciplinarian. your parents and my parents, what was television? three hours a day.
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my mom was the one i stole her car and went to a talent contest. the cops pick me up, and at midnight i came back. and they knock on the door, and there is my mom think it i am in bed. she stuck by me. and shethe one -- understood me. it was a big blow to me. i could not cry at the funeral. i reached in and took her reign. -- ring. tavis: what does that mean? >> i had to be strong. those people have showed up. i was so focused on her. i did not cry until i was alone. tavis: what did you do after she
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was gone? adjustment. .t was me -- my manager it was never the same. you are my destiny i wrote for her. it was a big hit. it was never the same after that. the last thing she said to me was, never date a lebanese girl. how many lebanese girls were in canada? i met my wife, who was lebanese. i got married to a great woman. you reference that you were able to keep your nose clean. how did you do that with so many others have major up stand- downs?-- ups and to youro back
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upbringing, canada. my father was always on top of me. keep your nose clean. you love what you are doing? the aware, or you are going to lose it. he made choices. alle is a line in life we walk. we go a little to the left, a little to the right, and keep the integrity and stay focused. i made the choice is to say, i did not want to lose what i thought was most important, the passion for what i do. not want to lose it because i was constantly evolving. theme the tonight show and then the longest day. you are constantly embraced by your profession. as long as you are growing and
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respected, you are going to stay as clean as you can because you have got something you love you do not want to lose. tavis: you played a small role in getting the beatles here for the first time. at one point you enand presley were it. what was the relationship -- what was the relationship? >> i was nobody, but we knew each other. we grew up together. we were the surviving guys. he had a lot to talk to me about. i had a lot to talk to him about. he said, i am going to do that song.
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he did it. our careers were not similar in a sense. there was a big difference. tavis: earlier in your career, back in the day, what do you delineate as the finest moments of your career? moments of your career? andinding up on ed sullivan realizing my life had changed, , andg that as a teen idol surviving the beatles, moving to a lot of countries, recording in , realizing i canmmo get over this. next one gave me gravitons
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as a writer. i think those were the crucial periods. things really changed for me. at youlook different. after that it became smooth iiling in that i would say, have a great journey. could do what i want. nothing lasts in this business. i looked at these kids to waste their money. that is terrible. has been 60 will it last? i have been waiting for 10 years for this conversation.
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people whoo many have been so iconic you wait for the moment of being on the show. i am delighted in this conversation. thank you for stopping by to talk to us. thank you for stopping by. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at join me next time for a conversation with robert battle. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is
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always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway and we have work to do. fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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