Hilariously blunt TV host Leta Powell Drake is an internet hero decades later11/15/2020
Give ’em hell, Leta.
A Nebraska morning show host is getting her day in the sun after a supercut of her refreshingly devastating celebrity interviews from the ’70s and ’80s went viral this week.
Leta Powell Drake spent decades producing and hosting segments for a Lincoln, Nebraska CBS station — most notably as the blunt interrogator of big name actors from Tom Selleck to Tom Hanks.
“You don’t consider yourself a great actor, do you?” she asked a laughably-serious “M.A.S.H.” actor Elliott Gould, just after reminding him that the “M.A.S.H.” television series which he didn’t appear in went on to make “a fortune.”
“You’ve done some brilliant pictures. You’ve done some stinkers,” she said to Gene Hackman.
“You know what your problem is? You’re really too pretty,” she asked a wide-eyed Lee Remick.
A clip of her best moments was shared by Twitter user @JFrankensteiner and has now garnered more than 7 million views and about 144,000 likes from the now-adoring internet masses. The clips were collected from the Nebraska Historical Society, which Drake gave all her old interviews. They’re now all available online.
Drake, now 82 and passionately active with a senior education program at the University of Nebraska, told New York Magazine this week that she never worried too much about offending her guests. Still spunky as her days in the interviewing chair, Drake said that even before the days of the internet, she did enough research to present new and unique questions to the actors.
“I didn’t ask them any of the kinds of questions that everybody else did, and maybe that’s why they were so receptive and responsive, because at least it was very refreshing,” she told the magazine.
In press junkets which Drake often traveled to from Lincoln, she was often just one of many interviewers to get the celebrities in the hot seat.
“I really had fun with these people. I really did. Some got very tired, you know, toward the end of the day. But I think they perked up when I came up, because I didn’t ask the usual questions. The young people who had no experience, they would say, ‘Tell us about your life.’ That was not a good question.”
For Drake, her renewed fame is a change from her usual recognition around town. In addition to her brash interviews, she also appeared in a children’s program as Kalamity Kate, “the West’s only lady sheriff.” Every day, she gets a now-grown kid from the show or a fan of it recognizing her on the street, she said.
But the new appreciation for her celebrity interviews is giving her a chance to reflect on her career taking the air out of Hollywood’s biggest names.
“[I] loved it! But it was a hell of a lot of work,” she said, adding that she regrets that she made far less than her male colleagues, who lived in “Taj Mahal”-like houses and went on to be “gazillionaires.”
“You know much I got paid? For the morning show, I got $15 a day. Now, I hosted it and produced it. And the kids’ show, I got $10 a day. So I made $25 a day. And of course, guys all ran the station. The management was all guys, the control room was all guys. And us little women were out there doing our thing.”
But in her typical deadpan style, she knows she got the last laugh.
“All those guys are dead now. I am not going gently into that good night.”
Watch the full viral video below:
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