February 27, 1998
Kate Mulgrew appeared on the “Late, Late Show” which aired in the US late Friday night (2/27/98)/early Saturday morning (2/28/98) on CBS. For anyone not familiar with this program it’s a talk show with Tom Synder as the host. Unlike a lot of the talk shows he usually focuses on just two guests per night and Kate’s segment was almost 30 minutes. This allows him to cover a variety of subjects and his interviews are a bit more in-depth instead of the sound bite interviews conducted on the other talk shows. This show is based in California but is recorded live for some East Coast broadcasts so he also takes call-in questions from the audience. Sometimes this can be interesting and sometimes it’s just tedious, as was the case with a few of the callers this night who seemed to ramble on or ask questions that Kate has answered a million times. This was Kate’s 5th appearance on his show. As she noted during the program she feels very comfortable and relaxed on his show and considers him one of the “last thinking men”. You can tell she really enjoys talking with him and with a good guest like Kate this show is much more a conversation between two people than your usual talk show. This night’s show bounced from subject to subject although they never touched on either sex or religion. I note this since during previous appearances these subjects always seemed to work into the conversation.<G>
First order of the night was congratulating Kate on becoming honorary Mayor of Brentwood, California (where she lives). Reflecting on this honor with the appropriate light hearted air Kate declared two dictums she has for Brentwood: all youth under the age of 14 must pull up their pants (referring to the kids that wear the hip-hop pants) and all leaf blowers will be banned. Then a discussion ensued about leaf blowers already being banned in L.A. County. The topic concluded with Kate describing her exhaustive duties as mayor: going to the President’s Ball and being the Grand Marshall of the parade.
Next topic: Kate quit smoking. It’s been nine months and she went to a hypnotist. At first she was skeptical. She figured she’d go just to get everyone off her back about smoking but she didn’t think it would do any good. But she found it to be a wonderful experience and it seems to have worked for her. This lead into a discussion on banning smoking in all public places while still protecting the rights of the tobacco farmers.
This segued into: when one stops smoking, one usually gains weight - something that Tom commented certainly hasn’t happened to Kate. Yes, Kate says, she’s gained some weight. So she’s done the next thing she’d thought she’d never do: hire a personal trainer. The guy comes to her house. They do stretching, run for 30 minutes, sit-ups and weights, all in her garage. Why her garage? Because she’s said in print she’d never go to a gym. She went once and found it to be a lonely and ghastly experience. Not that she’s knocking gyms she’s just a conversationalist and no one talks to you at the gym.
This segment ended with comments concerning the previous night’s show. Tom’s guest that night had been Penelope Ann Miller who Kate knew was in a new series “The Closer” with Tom Selleck which had just premiered. Kate remarked that Penelope was a lovely actress.
Next segment started with calls from the audience. First question - How did it feel to be the first female Captain? As I’m sure Kate has answered many times before - she was “shot out of a cannon”, there was great scrutiny, but she received great support. Tom then remarked on the great confidence he sees in her work and asks where that comes from. After questioning how much is confidence and how much is acting Kate concluded that of course there’s a confidence and it must come from being the oldest girl in a very large family. Her mother gave her a lot of responsibility but at the same time empowered her with the belief that she could do anything she wanted. She also has a passion for the craft so you can’t be insecure if you love something as much as she does acting.
Next subject: Mom & Dad and childhood. Tom loves to dig into childhood. <G> Kate grew up on 50 acres outside of Dubuque, Iowa which they called Derby Grange. Her father was a successful contractor who built roads. Childhood contained a lot of happiness, drama and tragedy. Kate commented that any family with a lot of girls, a lot of boys, a lot of best friends and two passionate parents (mother a painter, father a great thinker and poet, who both used language cleverly and loved music and great banter) contains drama. Tragedy-two sisters died; one very young and one at 14. This fractured the family but also taught them about allegiance and also despair.
How did she feel about her parents launching their kids by 18? Terrific, she wanted to go before. She went to London at 16, 17 to New York and entered New York University at 18 and left in her junior year to become professional. She had a smart father who taught his kids the value of work and the fact that they had to help themselves. They weren’t spoiled and she had jobs from the time she was 13.
Next caller question: Did you have lean years as an actor and what got you through it? Of course she had lean years but she’s always made her livelihood as an actress. What got her through- kids, friends, the richness of life. But it’s hard when you’re not “sought after”. That’s the ego of an actor. She had some rather lean years before “Voyager”. But it’s important to struggle. It teaches you about success and privilege.
About the celebrity and fame part of acting- Kate commented that part is rather taxing. But she isn’t stopped much in public, never has been. She attributes this to the fact that her persona on TV much be so entirely different from hers.
Next we’re back to the topic of the home where she grew up-very large, very old summer house that some incredibly rich guy built and then abandoned. Her parents, living in the city with 4 kids by then, were out for a Sunday drive and drove way out in the country, down this long, tree-lined gravel path, through these stone gates and there was this house. Her father went over to the people sitting in the front yard having a drink. Introduced himself and during the conversation found out the house was for sale. So he said he’d buy the house and he did.
After some reflections by Tom on where he grew up the topic turned to Chicago. Kate related her first trip to Chicago when she was 13. She went in on the train with her brother who was 14 and was just awed by it and had a wonderful time.
Next caller rambled a bit but eventually she mentioned she admired Kate’s strength and that she was a single parent as is Kate. Tom at this point mentioned Kate’s two teenage sons, Ian and Alexander. Kate commented that being a single parent is hard but she has the support of her ex-husband, which she thinks is key. She still rather likes him since why else would she have married this guy to begin with.
Tom was back to the subject of her sons who are 13 and 14. Asked if they had computers in their rooms, Kate answered that they did along with who knows what else is in those rooms. She was very funny in describing their rooms; great things of food, empty cartoons, socks, etc. Sometimes she wonders what’s going on in those rooms but that’s when you’ve got to have strength.
Tom ended by saying how much he loves talking to Kate and that she’s welcome anytime. Maybe sometime he’ll come to her house for one of her great dinners and she said she’d love that.
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