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Profiles of Halle Berry, Julia Roberts

Aired November 28, 2002 - 13:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, she's the barrier- breaking beauty whose new movie gives her a license to thrill.

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I just felt as a woman that I had to stuff my sexuality somewhere. I'm learning, hey, that's my secret weapon.


ANNOUNCER: But beneath the beauty, a background of racial turmoil and pain.


ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Halle Berry had it rough growing up. Her father, she says, was abusive alcoholic.


ANNOUNCER: She went from beauty pageants to the big screen, but her relationships haven't been as successful.


CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, AUTHOR, "INTRODUCING HALLE BERRY": Halle Berry had him served with divorce papers, you know, between the fifth and sixth innings.


ANNOUNCER: She made history by scoring a monster upset at last year's Oscars.


BERRY: I saw that sign and I was thinking, wait a minute, 74 years.


ANNOUNCER: Now she's the new Bond girl in "Die Another Day." A look at Halle Berry. Then, she is the sort of success story they make movies about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: I am just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia.


ANNOUNCER: America has been fascinated with all of her romances.


ROBERTS: Let's not kid ourselves like I'm above gossip and fodder.


ANNOUNCER: But has this runaway bride finally settled down? America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Halle Berry is having a big year. A year that has changed her life. She has made history at the Oscars and joined the most successful franchise in movie history. With the premiere of the latest James Bond thriller, "Die Another Day," Berry should be on top of the world. Instead, she's had to deal with heartache and hurdles she never would have imagined. Here's Daryn Kagan.


PIERCE BRONSON, ACTOR: Magnificent view!

BERRY: My friends call me Jinx.

BRONSON: My friends call me James Bond.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bond, James and Berry, Halle Berry, a combination to die for...

BERRY: I could use a little help here!

KAGAN: ... in "Die Another Day," the 20th James Bond film and Berry's first since taking home Oscar.

BERRY: It's a great night. I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime.


KAGAN: Halle Berry is that rarest of Hollywood celebrity, a stunning mixture of glamour, beauty, and acting ability.

BERRY: I met your daddy.

BRONSON: I love the woman to bits. I mean she's the most beautiful lady and she's a girl who's at the top of her game.

Jinx, you say?

BERRY: Born on Friday the 13th.

KAGAN: And Berry's character, Jinx, may be the toughest Bond babe to date.

BERRY: Well, she has all of the elements of a Bond girl. You know, she's beautiful, she's sexy and she's comfortable with her sexuality. But this time, she also is Bond's equal, for real.

Your mama.

You know she essentially has the same job that he has. She's a trained assassin for her country as he is. And not only does he want her physically but he needs her because she saves his hide a couple of times.

BRONSON: Not yet!

FARLEY: Halle Berry, from early on in her career, was someone that threw herself into a role, not just emotionally but intellectually as well.

KAGAN: Berry's drive, her talent and her good fortune have made her one of most recognizable stars in the world. But Halle Berry's story isn't just one of great fame. It's also a study in law, in pain, in the search for love and acceptance.

FARLEY: When we look at Halle, it's hard to believe there's that much pain in her background. I mean she's got the beautiful smile, the beautiful skin, the beautiful attitude. She's nothing but friendly and applicable to anyone that's ever met her. But she does have this core of pain that goes back to her father.

KAGAN: Halle Berry was born in 1966. She was named after a hometown department store in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, John F. Kennedy had already been assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr. was about to be. And Berry's childhood was as turbulent as the times.

O'NEILL: Halle Berry had it rough growing up. Her father, she says, was an abusive alcoholic. He left the family when she was four.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What was the lowest point ever?

BERRY: Ever in my life or career -- or this career?

KING: Either one, life?

BERRY: Life. Probably when I was 10 and my father who had left us came back to live with us for a year. That was probably one of the worst life -- years of my life.

KING: It was a bad year?

BERRY: A terror -- the worst year of my life, yes. And probably because I loved him so much, I think, on some level and desperately wanted a father. But having him come back into our home and being very violent and being an alcoholic and sort of abusing my mother and my sister, but never me, I think I grew up with a lot of guilt because...

KING: Why not you?

BERRY: Why not me? Yes. And that -- it was the worst -- the worst year.

KING: The youngest daughter of a white mother and a black father, Berry also struggled early on with the ugliness of racism.

O'NEILL: Another factor that made her childhood difficult was coming to terms with being a biracial child and experiencing all kinds of discrimination. And in growing up, she's always said that the person who helped her deal with that was her mother.

FARRELL: Her father left and her mom sat her down and said, "Listen, you're black. You're being raised by a white mother, but you're black. People are going to treat you that way. You think of yourself that way and life will be easier for you."

KAGAN: But little was easy in Cleveland during the late 60's and 70's for a young person of mixed race.

FARRELL: She originally attended some -- mostly black schools in the city. And she found that black girls would make fun of her for looking partly white. And then, when she moved out to the suburbs, she found that white girls would make fun of her for looking partly black. It's almost as if she couldn't win.

KAGAN: Berry internalized much of her struggle with discrimination and need for acceptance fueled an intense desire to succeed.

FARRELL: Halle wanted to be loved because she felt a pull from both sides. That made her a joiner and she became a cheerleader and she was good at that. She ran for class president, she was good at that. Then she wanted to become prom queen, too and she ran for that. And she seemingly won, but then there was some sort of difficulty and they had a meeting and they said it was a tie and a white girl has tied with you. And they had a coin flip that Halle won but she felt suspicious of that.

KAGAN: After high school, the young woman who had always thought to play down the color of her skin turned to the most image-driven of affairs, beauty pageants.

O'NEILL: She was a beauty queen and she's attributed that with how she managed to overcome like difficult times she had had with being treated with discrimination and this way to make her stand up and say, "No, you know, I'm beautiful whatever you say."

KAGAN: Berry's pageant life took her from Cleveland to Chicago, a big city with big hurdles, bad roommates and bitter lessons.

FARRELL: One of her roommates kind of skipped out without paying the more than $1,000 worth of rent that was owed. And Halle didn't know what to do. She didn't have the money to pay for it. So she calls her mom, Judith, and Judith said, "Listen, want to make it in the big city, you want to be a success, you've got to deal with this on your own." And Halle didn't understand it at first but it helped her. It helped her to be self-sufficient.

KAGAN: With no safety net and no one to bail her out, Halle Berry risked it all, trading her tiara for the uncertainty of acting.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Halle Berry fights for her first big break in "Jungle Fever" and falls hard for the wrong man.

FARRELL: One thing people can learn from Halle Berry's relationship with David Justice is if you don't like baseball, then don't marry a baseball player.




ANNOUNCER: ... Julia may reign at the box office but not at the alter.


O'NEILL: Julia Roberts doesn't really have a great name for sticking by relationships.


ANNOUNCER: Is the runaway bride finally going to stick around, that's later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.




KAGAN (voice-over): Halle Berry began her career onstage as a beauty queen, eventually becoming first runner-up in the 1985 Miss U.S.A. competition.

FARRELL: Lauren Becall once said that stardom isn't a profession, it's an accident. And the same is really true of Halle Berry's path to stardom. She really got into being a beauty queen quite by accident. She needed money.

KAGAN: Although she was known as terrific competitor, Berry wouldn't remain on the pageant circuit for long. She had bigger plans. She was going to be an actress.

In 1999, Berry landed a part in the television sitcom, "Living Dolls." It was her first big job. She was on her way. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you working on?

BERRY: Finding properties of hyper kinetic complex molecules.

KAGAN: And then, the lights went out. While filming an episode of "Living Dolls," Berry collapsed. No one knew what was wrong. Doctors were consulted and Berry was eventually informed that she had diabetes. Adding to her stress, "living Dolls" was canceled after only a few weeks on the air. For Berry, it seemed grim but she actually was about to step into the right place at the right time.

FARRELL: When Halle Berry really was coming of age as a star in Hollywood, there were people like the Hughes brothers, Spike Lee, Robert Townsend, directors who had a vision for blacks on screen.

KAGAN: Ironically, director, Spike Lee's vision for Halle Berry almost cost the young actress her break into film. Lee didn't think Berry was right to play Samuel L. Jackson's drug-addicted girlfriend in "Jungle Fever," thought she was too beautiful.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I want you all to meet my new woman, Viv.

KAGAN: But Berry was out to prove that she was more than a pretty face. She stopped bathing for several days to prepare for the gritty role and eventually won Lee over.

BERRY: Here!

KAGAN: Critical praise for jungle fever led to more substantial roles, including a starring term in 1995's "Losing Isaiah."

BERRY: If you think you're just going walk up in this court and take my baby like you take some puppy from a pound, you got another thing coming, lady.

KAGAN: And later, opposite Hollywood legend, Warren Beatty in "Bulworth." Although Berry was dazzling critics in 1990s, she was becoming better known to the public as a Cover Girl.

O'NEILL: Then there came a time where she was really known as the face of Revlon. She was wearing beautiful gowns to all of the performances and award shows and became more as Halle Berry beauty queen.

KAGAN: Whatever her professional image, Berry's career was definitely on the rise. Her private life, however, was another matter.

O'NEILL: Halle Berry has not had as much luck in love as she has had in her career. She started off badly. She talked about a former boyfriend who beat her so hard that she ended up deaf in one hear or 80 percent deaf in one ear.

KAGAN: But it was Berry's disastrous marriage to baseball player, David Justice that really ushered in a dark period in the actress's life.

FARRELL: One thing people can learn from Halle Berry's relationship with David Justice is if you don't like baseball, you know, don't marry a baseball player. She never really liked baseball.

BERRY: It wasn't the life for me. You know what I mean. To some people, it's a great life. It wasn't something that I found a lot of happiness with.

KAGAN: Berry's split with Justice was very tense and very messy.

FARRELL: Halle Berry had him served with divorce papers, you know, between the fifth and sixth innings of a Padre's game. That's not a good way to sort of make friends with someone who's soon to be your ex.

O'NEILL: All kinds of accusations have flown on both sides of her marriage with David Justice. She had accused him in print of sleeping with prostitutes, strippers. He's accused her of all kinds of things as well. And she put a restraining order against him. It was messy. It was really nasty on both sides.

KAGAN: The divorce took an enormous toll on Berry.

BERRY: I was a woman who grew up with that fantasy that was, you know, pushed down my throat -- you have to find your prince and he will take care of you and that will be happiness. My sense of self and my self-worth was totally connected to him, so when he left, I felt like nothing.

KAGAN: Filled with a sense of failure and questioning her own worth, Halle Berry seriously considered ending her own life.

BERRY: When I was in that moment and sitting in the car -- I was going to asphyxiate myself in a garage. When I was sitting there really with all my heart wanting to end my life, I thought of my mother and I thought wow, how unfair. I would break her heart. My heart's broken and I'm going to kill myself. I would break her heart. I would break her heart.

KAGAN: Berry also became to realize that suicide would be a cowardly act. She'd be walking out on her family, her fans, herself. Berry decided to take more control over her life and her career.

In 1999, Berry released her most personal film to date, HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." The film follows the life of the first black woman ever nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award and her struggle in 1950's Hollywood.

FARRERLL: She had a personal connection to Dorothy Dandridge. Halle Berry was born in the same hospital in Cleveland as Dorothy Dandridge was. When she was a kid, she first saw Dorothy Dandridge on screen in the movie, "Carmen Jones" and it shocked her. She'd never seen a black woman like that on screen.

KAGAN: Berry fought hard to bring her vision of Dandridge's life to television. When HBO refused to increase the film's budget, Berry dug into her own pocket.

FARRELL: One scene she thought was key was a scene that showed Dorothy Dandridge and her sister arriving for the Oscars. And Halle Berry felt it was necessary, necessary to sort of show their joy, show their moment of triumph. And so, she paid for the whole day of shooting out of her own pocket.

KAGAN: Berry won a Golden Globe for the portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge, but her success would soon be overshadowed by controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The People versus Halle Marie Berry.

KAGAN: That story when our look at Halle Berry continues.


ZAHN: In "Die Another Day," Halle Berry pays homage to the Bond girl, who started it all 40 years ago, which leads us to this week's "Where Are They Now?"


ANNOUNCER: As Honey Ryder in 1962's " Doctor No," Ursula Andress defined the generation and set the standard for Bond girl beauty. Best known for her statuess bikini scenes in movies like, Elvis' "Fun in Acapulco," the Swiss-born bombshell was married to actor, John Derek. She later had a child with much younger, Harry Hamlin, who she met on the set of the 1981 film, "Clash of The Titans." So where is Ursula Andress now?

At 66, the actress lives in Rome, enjoying the fruits of her one- time super celebrity status. Healthy and active, she continues to pop up on the international celebrity scene. She's appeared in a number of art films and continues to gain appreciation for her iconic role as what some see as the sexiest Bond girl ever.


ANNOUNCER: Our profile of Halle Berry continues when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.




BERRY: Thank you, Bob.

KAGAN (voice-over): Halle Berry found new life in playing Dorothy Dandridge. The accolades rolled in, her career had reached a new level. Things were finally looking up, but the moment was short- lived. Berry would soon learn the price of her celebrity. In 2000, Berry was indicted for leaving the scene of a car accident.

FARRELL: Halle had been hanging out with a friend, eating chips, drinking diet cola, was driving home in West Hollywood in a rented car, went through an intersection, and ran into another car.

KAGAN: Berry suffered a head injury in the accident. To this day, she says she doesn't remember the crash, and can't explain why she left.

O'NEILL: She got incredibly bad publicity surrounding that event and she actually had to perform community service. So she was kind of down and out there for a while.

KAGAN: In the midst of this very public turmoil, Berry would find solace in the arms of R&B singer, Eric Benet. The couple quietly married early last year.

O'NEILL: Halle has said that Eric Benet had a lot to do with how her life has turned around. She seems to find a lot of strength in him. He seems to give her a lot of support. She spends a lot of time with his daughter, India.

KAGAN: By 2001, Halle Berry had a new man, new family and she was looking for her next challenge. She found it in a project called "Monster's Ball".

BERRY: From the movement I read the script, I thought, I've got to play this. And never thinking it would bring awards; I really thought what it would do would bring credibility to my body of work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You looking for Hank?


KAGAN: However surprising it might seem now, Halle Berry had to put up a monster fight to win her role in "Monster's Ball". The filmmakers just couldn't see Berry in this racially charged drama. She didn't fit their idea of Leticia, a poor death row widow who falls in love with the husband's executioner.

FARRELL: So Halle shows up to meet Lee Daniels, the producer of "Monster's Ball" and they get to talking and they get to arguing. She began to deliver her argumentative lines in the same cadence the character would. And so Lee Daniels saw the character on the page come to life before his eyes, arguing with him and it won him over.

BERRY: My name is Leticia Musgrove.

KAGAN: For her performance in "Monster's Ball," Halle Berry was nominated for an Oscar. Life was about to imitate art. Just like her scene from "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," Berry was about to walk down the red carpet, a black woman who defied the odds to become a Best Actress nominee. And Berry thought, like Dandridge, she wouldn't win. She didn't even write an acceptance speech.

BERRY: The night before, I had an Oscar party and Oprah Winfrey came and she sad to me -- her last words to me, "Girl, write a speech." And I said, "Oprah, I don't need to write" -- she said, "Write a speech." So I went home and I thought about it. And I thought I'm not going to write a speech. I'm really not going need a speech.

KAGAN: But Berry did need a speech. She not only walked down the red carpet at the Oscars, she walked into history, becoming the first African-American woman to win the award for Best Actress. Though berry was nearly speechless when her name was first announced, she did eventually find her voice and she spoke for nearly three minutes, a lifetime at the Oscars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also liked the moment when they were trying to shoe you off the stage and you said, "74 years."

BERRY: I saw that sign and I'm thinking, wait a minute, 74 years. So I didn't want to be too indulgent, but I did have to thank, you know, some of those people.

KAGAN: A big win in what should have been Halle Berry's best year. She had an Oscar in hand and a starring role in the latest James Bond thriller.

BERRY: James!

KAGAN: Almost as soon as Berry started filming, reports began to surface that her marriage to Eric Benet was in trouble. For months, Berry remained quiet about her family life, about her husband.


KAGAN: And then as "Die Another Day" was about to premiere, a bombshell confession. Berry confirmed to "Essence" magazine that her marriage was in jeopardy saying, "The truth is that during the period of my most significant public success -- the Academy Awards -- my private life faced a staggering crisis." Without touching on specifics, Berry went on to say, "All romantic relationships suffer crises. No woman alive can claim otherwise." Berry announced she and Benet had entered psychotherapy, that they were working to salvage their marriage and that she wasn't giving up.

KING: Your home life is happy now?

BERRY: Yes, my home life is -- it's good.

KING: You got a good guy?

BERRY: I think so.

KING: Not sure?

BERRY: I'm sure.

KING: Halle!

BERRY: No, I am sure. We are like, you know, a lot of couples. We -- you know, marriage is hard. But if you're really committed and you're in it for the long run, which we both are -- you know we're the kind of people who will fight for it. KAGAN: Berry says nothing is more important to her than her family and that was never more evidence than right after she won her Oscar.

BERRY: Thank you. This is the only reason this happened really.


BERRY: Everything sort of came together for me, finding that piece, finding a partner. I became a mother, you know. I had so many more reasons to do what a do and I think that's the reason this reward came my way.

KAGAN: Berry has been working almost nonstop since the Academy Awards. In addition to "Die Another Day," she's also reprising her role as Storm in the sequel to her box office hit, "X-Men," a vast departure from her performance in "Monster's Ball".

O'NEILL: Halle Berry clearly has range and she's trying to show it off whether it works in the future will be interesting to see.

KAGAN: Whatever roles Halle Berry chooses in the future, one thing is for sure -- she's proven time and time again that she's much more than just a pretty face.


ZAHN: In addition to staring in "Die Another Day" and working on "X-Men II," Halle Berry is also co-producing four upcoming films. And there is serious talk that her character, Jinx, may become the first spin-off from the James Bond series.

ANNOUNCER: And when we return, she's become the highest-paid actress in history and she's not afraid to flex her muscle.


ROBERTS: I want my man to see this. Look at the muscle. Forget the award, just look at the muscle. This weighs 14 pounds.


ANNOUNCER: Working out with Julia Roberts next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Julia Roberts, "The Gong Show" and an eccentric TV host who may or may not be a CIA assassin. Confused? Well, you won't be after our look at Roberts and her upcoming film, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." It's just the latest role for an Oscar-winning actresses whose life and loves on and off screen has captivated audiences and captured headlines. Here's Daryn Kagan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESOPNDENT (voice-over): She's been dubbed America's Sweetheart and not only because of her love affair with America. America delights in watching her love affairs -- on screen and off. She's courted Hollywood's leading men -- Liam, Dylan, and Daniel in full glare of the paparazzi, which makes it all the more amazing that Julia Roberts managed to keep the lid on one of Hollywood's best kept secrets.

Fourth of July weekend at Julia's ranch in Taos, New Mexico, unsuspecting friends and family were invited to what they thought was an Independence Day celebration. That celebration turned into a secret midnight wedding to L.A. cameraman, Danny Moder.

O'NEILL: The celebration itself was -- came as a surprise to a lot of people. It was at a Mirada on the edge of Julia's property. Everyone drove out there even right down to the minute where Julia and Danny were about to get married, a lot of people still didn't know what was happening. And they exchanged simple vows -- handwritten vows -- and you know, it was very loving. They kept kissing through the ceremony. They kept asking, "Could we kiss?"

KAGAN: The couple met two years ago on the set of Roberts' movie "The Mexican." But sparks didn't fly right away. Roberts was four years into her relationship with Benjamin Pratt and Moder was still married to make-up artist, Vera Steinberg. The story of how the two finally got together would cause a bit of a scandal.

Prior to the stealth wedding, Roberts' erratic love life had earned her the nickname "runaway bride" even before she made the 1999 movie. She left Kiefer at the alter and divorced country crooner, Lyle Lovett, after less than two years of marriage. Last year, she ended her four-year relationship with Benjamin Pratt.

O'NEILL: Julia Roberts doesn't really have a great name for sticking by relationships. We've seen her go out with Kiefer Sutherland and Lyle Lovett and Benjamin Pratt. And she's a huge movie star and that kind of helped the impact on those relationships. And a lot of the time she was a bigger movie star or a bigger celebrity than the person she was dating.

KAGAN: A super celebrity who reigns at the box office. Nine of her films have grossed nearly $100 million each.

UNKNOWN MALE: How's the pay in movies?

KAGAN: Money provided comic relief in her hit "Notting Hill."

UNKNOWN MALE: What do you get paid?

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: Fifteen million dollars.



KAGAN: In real life she commands even more -- $20 million per film -- joining the megawattage of Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis.

Roberts tops Hollywood's A-list in her latest movie with "Erin Brokovich" director, Stephen Soderbergh.

ROBERTS: Here you are, Chuck, pleasantly surprised. You're not like the other murderers.

KAGAN: In "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," she plays the love interest of fellow CIA interest, Chuck Barrett, the film adaptation of the game show host memoir releases this Christmas.

The actress teamed up with Soderbergh earlier this year, putting aside her mega salary to work on his low budget, "Full Frontal," a comic look inside Hollywood.

O'NEILL: It was just very much a stripped down set and they did have to do their own hair and make-up. They did have to share trailers and get along. It was very low budget, bare bones -- kind of like, you know, movie camp for movie stars.

KAGAN: But the Hollywood star won't need to share her trailer anytime soon.

ROBERT THOMPSON, PROFESSOR OF FILM, TELEVISION AND POPULAR CULTURE, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Julia Roberts, of course, is this powerful businesswoman. She's a person with an awful lot of clout in Hollywood.

KAGAN: Clout that Roberts isn't afraid to use -- even on Oscar night.

THOMPSON: She got up there and no sooner had she started talking than she let everybody know she was now directing this presentation of the Oscars -- she was in control.

At one time she literally said, "Stop the clock -- it's making me nervous." How many people on planet earth can say, you know, "Let time stop?" And with Julia, they stopped it.

KAGAN: Roberts spent 2001 on red carpets, taking home a Golden Globe Award and the golden man himself, the Oscar. All for her performance in Soderbergh's "Erin Brokovich."

ROBERTS: There's two things that aggravate me, Mr. Masry, being ignored and being lied to.

STEPHEN SODERBERGH, DIRECTOR: To go to work every day on "Erin Brockovich" and see someone with so much talent comport themselves with such grace and such wit and such generosity of spirit was not only instructive but inspiring.

UNKNOWN MALE: There is no movie star who shines more brightly.

KAGAN: It's been an up year for the golden girl, but fame has a down side.

When the story of Julia Roberts continues -- love, intimacy and the pursuit of privacy.

ROBERTS: People are welcome to know whatever they wish to know as long as they want to be honest about it and also respect the fact that we don't sit and ask them, you know, "What's your life like? Are you getting married? You know where do you live? What do you do? What makes you guys happy, you know? I don't do that to other people unless they're friends of mine.





KAGAN (voice-over): Today's queen of Hollywood began life in modest surroundings nearly a continent away in Atlanta, Georgia. Julia Fiona Roberts debuted at Crawford Long Hospital on October 28th, 1967. Julia went home to a two-story house in Midtown, one of Atlanta's middle class neighborhoods.

Her parents, Walter and Betty Roberts, ran a writing and actors workshop. The children of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. were enrolled there. It was the only integrated children's theater group in Atlanta. Dexter King is now a writer, Yolanda King an actress and producer.

YOLANDA KING, ACTRESS AND PRODUCER: Mr. Roberts was so imposing. I loved him but I was also a little intimidated by him, too. And -- but he was -- I mean he taught me so much and -- he and Mrs. Roberts -- about the work and just about living and being really open -- grabbing life and making the best of it.

ROBERTS: The only thing my father ever directly said to me about acting was, "Don't ever say anything unless it means something -- unless you're telling people something they don't already know. There's no reason to speak unless you're doing that."

KAGAN: Biographer Joyce Wagner says despite years of trying, the acting studio failed.

JOYCE WAGNER, BIOGRAPHER: It was the great dream but I think it turned into a financial nightmare. They were always hard pressed for money. And it collapsed at one point and that was it.

KAGAN: In 1967, Julia's parents' marriage was also over. Betty Roberts remarried and moved with her daughters to Smyrna, a small town just north of Atlanta. Her brother, Eric, remained in Atlanta with their father, who took a job at a local department store.

WAGNER: After the divorce, Julia didn't see much of her father.

KAGAN: There were weekly phone calls and vacation visits but while Julia was still in grade school, that limited contact came to a tragic end. WAGNER: Walter died in 1977. Julia was either 10 or very close to 10 years of age at that point. Ironically, he was very young when he died. He was in his mid-40s.

KING: I remember being so sad and distressed because he really died very unfulfilled. And he had lost the workshop. And I know he was very disillusioned.

KAGAN: Julia says it was her sister, Lisa, just two years older, who provided love, support and good counsel. Julia joined Lisa at Smyrna's Campbell High School. She played on the high school tennis team. And while there were no drama classes offered in high school, she couldn't resist the lure of the family business.

At age 17, the recent high school graduate moved from small town Georgia to the big city -- New York. And, like her older brother and sister, she went to pursue a career in acting.

Within two short years, Roberts landed a role in the low budget film, "Satisfaction." The movie closed soon after it opened in 1988 but for Roberts there was one upside. The film's producer was then married to Sally Field. The veteran actor would become a mentor to Roberts.

SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: I must have missed the passage ...

KAGAN: Just one year after the making of "Satisfaction"...

FIELD: ... I'm the mother of the bride.

KAGAN: ... Field would push, yank and push some more to get Roberts into the ensemble cast of "Steel Magnolias."

ROBERTS: He was really cute. And I thought he was a pest at first but then he kind of grew on me and now I love him.

WAGNER: Julia is like a sponge -- she wants to know. And she's smart enough to know who best to learn from than older actresses who have trod the same path.



KAGAN: After Roberts wrapped "Steel Magnolias"...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the job still hot?

ROBERTS: I think maybe.

KAGAN: ... "Mystic Pizza" opened. Now it's a video favorite but in 1988 it was not a box office hit. So Field would again have to step in on Roberts' behalf to convince Disney to give her a chance at comedy in the form of a charming prostitute. The picture, "Pretty Woman."


KAGAN: Director, Garry Marshall, described 21-year-old Roberts as a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Bambi.

MARSHALL: I said, "Richard, when she goes to look at the box, just kind of click the box on her fingers." Her reaction to that was so honest and it was so spontaneous and so natural that when I saw it on film later I just left it in.

WAGNER: And that spontaneous, earthy, great laugh set it all in motion as far as I'm concerned. That was the turning point.

KAGAN: People poured into the theaters to see "Pretty Woman."

ROBERTS: If you're talking 24 hours a day, it's going to cost you.

KAGAN: In its first four weeks, it grossed more than $150 million and became the highest grossing film of 1990. And it earned Roberts her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

After some fizzles at the box office, Roberts hit the big time again in 1997 with yet another romantic comedy, "My Best Friend's Wedding."

ROBERTS: I'm a busy girl. I've got four days to break up a wedding and steal the bride's husband.

KAGAN: The film grossed $127 million and other hits followed, "Notting Hill," "Runaway Bride."

UNKNOWN MALE: A lot of people are under the impression that you get to choose who you love.

KAGAN: Her box office hits like "The Mexican," "Pretty Woman," and "America's Sweetheart" are often all about love.

ROBERTS: No, that woman that you just have to spend the rest of your life with -- that was me.


KAGAN: But it's the star's turbulent love life that fuels the press.

ROBERTS: I participant in that stuff -- let's not kid ourselves like I am some kind of, you know, stoic person above gossip and fodder and all those things. I find that on days that I really participate in that kind of water cooler conversation is -- if I were to be honest with myself, a day that I'm just really looking to not look at myself.

KAGAN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Julia's new love and marriage and a mysterious photograph.

O'NEILL: If she knew photographers were really watching her that day, you know, no one really got to the bottom of it. Maybe she was just being cheeky.


ZAHN: Our look at Julia Roberts, her new husband and the scandal they created when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues. But, first, here's this week's "Passages."


ANNOUNCER: Hollywood tough guy, James Coburn, died of a heart attack in his Los Angeles home Monday. He played in more than 80 films, many of them classics, such as the "The Magnificent Seven." In his 50-year career, the rugged actor from Nebraska played a wide range of characters, from an applicable spy in "Our Man Flint" to an aging alcoholic in "Affliction."

JAMES COBURN, ACTOR: Without scream, we have no power.

ANNOUNCER: He also provided the voice for the evil CEO in "Monster's Inc." James Coburn was 74.

Fans outside a Berlin hotel got a nerve-wracking glimpse of Michael Jackson's youngest child. The pop star briefly dangled his 6- month-old baby named Prince Michael II over the balcony rail four stories above the crowd. He later apologized; pointing out he would never intentionally endanger his child.

There's no truth to the rumor that the Elephant Man is buying Jackson's bones.

The Aussie star of such films as "Gladiator" is apparently tired of the rat race. Russell Crowe announced Wednesday that he is canceling his upcoming U.S. concert tour and returning to Australia. On the Website for his band, 30 Off Foot of Grunts, Crowe blames what he calls an "undeniably massive level of stress" for the cancellation. He plans to spend more time with his sick father and his girlfriend, Danielle Spencer and less time in bar fights.

For more celebrity testosterone, grab a copy of "People" magazine this week featuring "People's" pick for Sexiest Man Alive.

A profile of Julia Roberts continues after this.




KAGAN (voice-over): Dexter and Yolanda King, children of Martin Luther King, Jr. first met Julia Roberts in the late '60s while attending her parents' acting workshop in Atlanta.

KING: It was an extended family. It really was. And all of these black kids and white kids getting along. No problems. We had no problems whatsoever -- racial problems. KAGAN: Racial equality was preached within the Roberts home.

BETTY MOTES, MOTHER: She said in "The Rolling Stone" that she was brought up in a liberal family and she was. And she was taught that it's what is inside you that counts, not the color of your skin.

KAGAN: Color became an issue for Roberts during the filming of the thriller, "Sleeping with the Enemy." It was the spring of 1990 and Roberts was on location in a small town in South Carolina.

A casual night out turned ugly when a member of the film crew was denied entrance to a local bar because he was black. Roberts had a fiery argument with the bar owner.

ROBERTS: I was enraged. I was out of my mind.

KING: And she just went off. And I can see her doing that. I mean -- and just that outrageous, just outrage, the righteous indignation. I can see it pouring forth from her and rightly so.

KAGAN: And it's that characteristic, just behaving like a person with far less money and far less fame that might explain why fans adores her.

ROBERTS: OK -- I'm so on the verge of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KAGAN: Julia Roberts comes across as genuine. She gets mad. She has fun.

ROBERTS: I want my man to see this. Look at the muscle. Forget the award, just look at the muscle. This weighs 14 pounds. It does.

KAGAN: The American public seems fascinated with her love life.

ROBERTS: That is not a light little piece of machinery.

KAGAN: When Julia Roberts ended her relationship with Benjamin Pratt last year, the split put her back in the news and back in touch with the man who would become her husband.

Danny Moder reportedly helped the star get through her break-up. The couple were seen together often and in April, made the romance public. But there was a hitch -- Moder was still married.

In May Roberts was photographed wearing a T-shirt that read "A Low Vera" -- a play on words perhaps in protest of Moder's estranged wife, Vera, who was rumored to be stalling their divorce.

O'NEILL: Why she was wearing the shirt, the "A Low Vera" shirt, a total mystery whether that was a message, whether she knew photographers were watching her that day. You know no one really got to the bottom of it. Maybe she was just being cheeky.

KAGAN: By June Danny Moder's divorce was final. The 33-year-old Los Angeles native grew up in the film business. O'NEILL: He comes from a Hollywood family. His father was a producer. And you know he's very much a non-celebrity. There is -- you know there is not an ounce of fame about him. And I think maybe that's what attracted Julia Roberts to him.

KAGAN: Friends of Roberts have said that Moder is the perfect match for her -- both down to earth, caring and compassionate.

O'NEILL: The eternal question -- is this it? Will it last? From all accounts, her friends say that this is it. Her friends say that she's extremely happy. And we'll wait and see.

ROBERTS: I've come to Haiti to visit with the children.

KAGAN: Roberts' other passion in life is her commitment to helping children around the world. She traveled to a turbulent Haiti in 1995 as a goodwill ambassador. She spent six days visiting children.

ROBERTS: These children cannot be left to deal with the consequences of a political situation that has nothing to do with them, you know. They need food. They need healthcare. They need education.

KAGAN: Friend and co-star Rupert Everett predicts Roberts's philanthropy will continue.

RUPERT EVERETT, FRIEND AND CO-STAR: She did more beautifully off screen than she was on.

KAGAN: He sees her at age 50, shirt sleeves rolled up, washing babies.

ROBERTS: I am proof positive that anything is possible in your life. I am just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia who wanted to be in movies.


ZAHN: Julia Roberts' is currently filming "Mona Lisa Smile." She plays a free-spirited Berkley graduate in 1953 who takes on a teaching position at an all women's college. The movie is scheduled for release next year.

And that it is for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.


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