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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Rich Little

Aired July 28, 2003 - 20:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As we told you at the top of the show, a man many in Hollywood cite as an influence, a hero and a friend has died. Bob Hope was able to make a nation laugh even in the toughest of times. For decades, he helped lift the spirits of U.S. troops overseas, and comedian Rich Little joined the legend on some of those trips. And he joins me tonight from Las Vegas with some remembrances.
Thank you for joining us tonight. What is it that you will remember the most?

RICH LITTLE, COMEDIAN: Paula, first of all, let me say, I'm a big fan of yours. If I could imitate you, I would date myself.

ZAHN: I am so sorry. We have lost audio, Rich. You probably said something very, very funny, and I have no idea what you said.

LITTLE: Can you hear me now?

ZAHN: Yes, now I can. I am so sorry.

LITTLE: No, I just said, I was a big fan of yours and if I could imitate you, I would date myself.

ZAHN: You didn't say that.

LITTLE: Yes, I did.

ZAHN: You did say that? I'm so sorry. You're in this magnificent building and occasionally you get the little pop, and I couldn't hear you. What kind of influence did Bob Hope have on your work?

LITTLE: Oh, you could learn a lot from Bob Hope. I mean, his timing was incredible. His confidence is -- well, his material at times was a little corny, but he was lovable. And a pretty good actor. I wish he had done something dramatic, though, which he never did, something really dramatic. I think the closest he came was probably "The Seven Little Foys." But he was a good actor, and certainly if not the greatest comedian that ever lived, certainly the most well known, I would say, of any age.

ZAHN: And a lot of folks have said his greatest legacy is that his sense of humor will live on in people like you and many other younger comedians like yourself that have been influenced by his work over the years. LITTLE: Yes. Well, he was a very nice man, you know, as himself, you know. He loved to tell jokes. Although he wasn't really a joke-teller. He liked to do quips, you know, and talk about people and places he was at, and, of course, he was great with the men overseas. I mean, they just thought he was marvelous, you know? Because he had that ability of thinking quick. Not too many people are -- were as good as Bob Hope. George Burns was great at thinking, you know, on the spot. Steve Allen was marvelous, and so was George Burns. But Bob may be the king of them all, you snow.

ZAHN: You've got to give yourself for being pretty quick thinking, too. My man Richard...

LITTLE: I'm not in their league, really.

ZAHN: Well, thank you very much, for spending a little time with us.

LITTLE: Bob Hope. I want to tell you, how about that Paula? Isn't she something? I want to tell you. I was always kidding Bob about imitating him, and he said, used to call me the prune kid, because one time I played up at Harris, at Lake Tahoe and they make their own prunes up there. And I found out that Bob liked prunes. So I sent him a whole case of prunes. From then on, wherever we were, he said, "it's the prune kid from Canada." Can you imagine being known as the prune kid?

ZAHN: Well, we're going to have to leave it there this evening. Rich Little, I apologize for some of the audio problems we've had here.

LITTLE: Oh, no problem.

ZAHN: I appreciate your patience. We're going to take a short break.

LITTLE: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: My pleasure, Rich. Take care.

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