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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Profiles of Tom Hanks, Rod Stewart

Aired November 6, 2004 - 11:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins in just a moment, but first here's a look at stories now in the news.
In Iraq, violence erupts in Samarra, killing at least 34 people, according to local hospital officials. And the U.S. military says insurgents launched an attack on an Iraqi police station and set off at least two car bombs in the city. In the Al Anbar Province, 20 Marines were wounded in an attack on a convoy. It comes as U.S. troops led -- or prepare for a major offensive on Fallujah. We will have live reports from Iraq. That's coming up in the next hour.

Palestinian leaders are privately weighing the prospects of life after Yasser Arafat. However, they insist the PLO leader is not in an immediate danger of dying. Arafat remains in poor condition at French hospital.

We, of course, will have more news in 30 minutes. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Those must be comfortable shoes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: ...whether he's sitting on a bench or storming the beaches of Normandy, Tom Hanks always makes a giant splash on the big screen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: There's a bonding thing that happens. The audience imprints on him and they say I can be this guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Paula Zahn sits down with the two-time Oscar winner for a glimpse at life on and off the camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: You have been quite open over the years about your childhood being tough.

HANKS: A state of confusion is not the best way in order to live one's childhood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now, it's full steam ahead with a state of the art motion picture, "The Polar Express."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANKS: It's no good unless you make their eyes pop out of their heads and have them say I never expected that. How did they do that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Screen legend, Tom Hanks. Then...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD STEWART, MUSICIAN: Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: ...Rod Stewart, the flamboyant rocker is back in the spotlight with a No. 1 album.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: You saw me standing alone...

I always admired Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and Peter Holiday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A surprising come back for a legendary story teller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rod Stewart is a remarkable survivor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Rod the Mod, Rod the Rocker, Rod the Balladeer, good times, bad times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: There was a period where I didn't think I was going to sing again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The famous loves, losses and lifestyle of Rod Stewart on stage and off. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. ZAHN: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Tom Hanks has become synonymous with blockbuster. Whether it's comedy, drama or romance, he is one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood. But will that star power be enough to put his latest film over the top? In "Polar Express," Hanks plays not one, but five animated characters in a movie that cost $170 million just to make, a steep price even for the formidable Hanks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Hanks, ladies and gentlemen.

(APPLAUSE)

ZAHN (voice-over): He is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood's most beloved...

HANKS: And action!

ZAHN: ...most powerful and most acclaimed.

PETER CASTRO, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He can do no wrong really.

HANKS: I have to pee.

CASTRO: You want to put out a great comedy, then get Tom Hanks. You want to put out a great romantic comedy, get Tom Hanks. Hey, how about a great drama or a great bad guy? Oh, I know, Tom Hanks. You know there is nothing he can't do.

ZAHN: Thirty-nine films, four Golden Globes, five Oscar nods, two historic back to back Academy Awards and yet at 48 years old, Tom Hanks is Tinsletown's quintessential nice guy, with a reputation as stellar as his box office clout.

(on camera): So given how volatile your industry, in spite of the enormous professional success you've had, the enormous financial success, is there a part of you that can never get comfortable?

HANKS: Oh, no. I'm comfortable.

ZAHN: You're comfortable?

HANKS: I'm...

ZAHN: And I'm saying that it would all go away.

HANKS: No, no, no. Let me put it this way...

ZAHN: Is there a part of you that can't get completely secure with this?

HANKS: No. I can be secure. I can be content, but I'm restless by nature. I don't think that -- I -- here's what I discovered a while ago: I'm an actor by nature. I can't imagine a world in which I'm not taking part in telling these stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if there was a place beyond your imagination?

ZAHN (voice-over): This week, the story teller returns...

HANKS: All aboard!

ZAHN: ...in a state-of-the-art motion picture.

HANKS: Well, are you coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where?

HANK: Why, to the North Pole, of course! This is the polar express!

ZAHN: Based on Chris Van Allsburg's best-selling children's novel about a boy's waning faith in Santa Clause, "Polar Express" is the first of its kind, a computer generated film based on human performance.

(on camera): The technology is really revolutionary. You've got to take me to through the process of how you made this movie because I've seen pictures of you in this goofy blue suit with all these electrodes attached to you and you're really acting.

HANKS: Well, it looks strange and actually, the first time you see somebody in it, you say does that hurt because you think, like, they took a hammer and nailed them in one at a -- they just glued them on your face. But when you're -- actually, when you get into it, it is exactly the same as when you're rehearsing for a play. You're performing in real time with real emotion.

Well, are you coming?

ZAHN: Directed by "Forest Gump's" Robert Zemeckis, cameras captured Hanks every movement, every emotion, transferring the 3D performance to the five animated characters he portrays. The result? Ground-breaking cinema.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to believe, but...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe.

ZAHN: It's a heart warming tale about the power of belief, much like the life of the man behind the magic of "Polar Express."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've wanted to do that my whole life.

ZAHN: He was born Thomas Jeffrey Hanks on July 9, 1956 in the small town of Concord, California. By the time he was 5, his parents, Amos and Janet Hanks, had divorced. Both would marry and remarry multiple times.

(on camera): You have been quite open over the years about your childhood being tough. And at one point, you told one of our reporters that at the time, it was as though you were running from one to another and sort of running away from anything that was consistent in your life. It must have been tough.

HANKS: Well, it was but I knew that it wasn't abusive. The worst thing I could say about my growing up was it was confusing. You know we had the over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go. We had that. It just -- the difference was we were on a Greyhound bus by ourself going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house.

ZAHN (voice-over): By high school, Hanks, the performer, began to emerge. The teen was named class cut up and won best actor for his work in the musical "South Pacific", but it was a tragedy, Eugene O'Neill's bar room classic, "The Iceman Cometh" that was Hanks' defining moment. He had gone to the see the play at Berkley's Repertory Theater. He came out enthralled. Tom Hanks was hooked.

HANKS: It literally popped my eyes open to think that wait, there's people that do this? This is what they do not just for a living, but for their life? This is how they spend their time?

ZAHN: A year later, the budding thespian was building sets for the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland. Three seasons playing minor roles gave Hanks his equity card and desire to give New York a try. Headed east with him, his first wife, Samantha Looms.

CASTRO: A lot of people don't know that Tom Hanks was married before. He met someone in the '70s while he was struggling as an actor and then they moved to Hell's Kitchen in New York. It was a walk-up tenement with roaches the size of little Poodles and it was really, really tough going.

ZAHN: One year later, in 1980, Hanks got his first break, landing a role in the low budget slasher film, "He Knows You're Alone."

HANKS: Why, after seeing "Psycho" were so many people afraid of taking showers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not me.

HANKS: I would read something off a piece of paper and the guy looks up from the desk and he says, "You're going to be in the movie." And that was $800, but it was a big deal. From there, I got on the television show.

SPIELBERG: Well, the first time I saw Tom, I guess, was "Bosom Buddies." You know I thought he was kind of a contortion artist. He did these weird things with his head all the time. Tom Hanks, early moves from TV. He was just this total funny comedy guy.

ZAHN: The gender-bending sitcom with costar Peter Scolari lasted two seasons. What followed was unemployment checks and sporadic TV work. On "Family Ties," Hanks was an unlucky corporate whiz kid. On "Happy Days," an explosive classmate of the Fonz. But those "Happy Days" would pay off. Director Ron Howard who starred in the sitcom remembered Hanks and invited him to read for a supporting role in his upcoming film, "Splash." But following this audition tape, the job went to John Candy.

HANKS: Barbara, Liza...

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR, "SPLASH": Madison, I like Madison.

HANKS: Madison's not a name.

ZAHN: Instead, Howard tapped Hanks for the lead.

DARYL HANNAH, ACTRESS: My name is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HOWARD: He wasn't a movie star but he was, you know -- he was just so gifted. He came in. He auditioned and he won the role.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behold the mermaid.

ZAHN: On March 6, 1984, "Splash" washed ashore. The $9 million boy meets fish love story quickly grossed more than $60 million and Tom Hanks had finally found his home.

Coming up, from "Big" to bust, Hanks on one of Hollywood's biggest bonfires.

HANKS: "The Bonfire of the Vanities" was such a disaster they wrote books about why it was disaster.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): In 1988, Tom Hanks was hitting all the right notes with his performance in "Big." Hanks was endearing as a young boy, trapped in a man's body.

LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: "Big" was Hanks' first blockbuster movie. It was the film that absolutely put him on the map as one of Hollywood's leading men.

ZAHN (on camera): When you look back on your career -- and it wasn't all that long ago that you were actually living in Hell's Kitchen, sort of a tenement building.

HANKS: Just over there.

ZAHN: You struggled for many years as a young actor.

HANKS: Well, I was very, very lucky that at a very early age and after not too long of being a professional, I could pay my bills. So right there, I had this huge burden on my life taken away from me, simply because I could afford to live. I could afford to only be an actor.

ZAHN (voice-over): For Hanks, "Big" was big. It garnered him his first Academy Award nomination.

HANKS: I had never been to the Oscars before, so this was like senior prom on acid.

ZAHN: Nineteen ninety-eight also proved a big year for Hanks personally. After his first marriage ended in 1987, Hanks married actor and producer, Rita Wilson. He first met Wilson when she starred as his love interest in the 1985 film, "Volunteers".

RITA WILSON, WIFE: What did I say?

HANKS: Move this log and I'll sleep with each one of you.

ZAHN: Hanks says it's Wilson who made him the man and the star he is today.

WILSON: I think he looks like Roy Orbison.

HANKS: And I think you look like a pretty woman. My wife is amazing. Is she not?

ZAHN (on camera): Family life is important to you, isn't it?

HANKS: Yes, yes.

ZAHN: The kids are everything?

HANKS: Well...

ZAHN: And your lovely wife.

HANKS: Well, my lovely wife, Rita Wilson, she's a magnificent catch, I must say. Well, look, it's the only thing that's really important in this world. This is what I do for a living and I like it a lot. But that's got nothing to do with how you -- how that happens. And I think I do a pretty good job of balancing the public and the private moments because they don't mix, period, the end. They simply don't. It's a job on one hand, but it's a life on the other. And hopefully, I'll be a grandfather some time with kids who want to come around and hang out at Papu's house.

ZAHN (voice-over): After his "Big" Academy Award nomination, Hanks seemed headed for superstardom, but his career suddenly stalled. Falling flat, the now classic cable viewing "Turner and Hooch," "Joe Versus The Volcano" and the box office flop, "Bonfire of The Vanities."

ROZEN: It was just one of those movies that wasn't going to work no way, no how. Died an ignominious death and if you pull it out on video to go, maybe it's not as bad as I thought it was, it turns out to be just as bad as you thought it was.

ZAHN (on camera): What does that do to your sense of security? HANKS: Very little. Look, the truth is, Paula, every movie is a crap shoot. Any time you're going to take money in order to go off and say we're going to entertain you for two hours, you run the risk of disaster. And sometimes they have been disasters. I mean I've had my share. You know in "Bonfire" -- I made the movie, "Bonfire of The Vanities." It was such a disaster, they wrote books about why it was a disaster.

ZAHN: I actually liked that movie, Tom. What does that tell you about my taste in movies?

HANKS: Well, there you go. There's nothing -- well, it was a Tom Hanks picture, you know, so it had a lot going for it.

ZAHN (voice-over): Just as it seemed the actor was about to strike out, Hanks managed to hit one out of the park with "A League of Their Own."

HANKS: All right, all right, time for the song and dance.

ZAHN: Hanks, a big Cleveland Indians fan, played the washed up, tobacco chewing manager as if a pennant depended on it.

HANKS: Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in baseball.

ZAHN: Hanks' star was once again on the rise, but it was his next picture that would showcase his range and versatility.

You are worried we don't have very much time left, now aren't you?

ZAHN: In the 1993 film, "Philadelphia," the deadly serious Hanks surprised both audiences and critics.

CASTRO: With "Philadelphia," it was the first hint that this guy is really special. We're working with something, you know, extremely rare.

ZAHN: "Philadelphia" gave Hanks his first Oscar win.

(on camera): How much of a validation was your first Oscar award?

HANKS: It's a huge deal for a couple weeks to the world, but it's a much, much bigger deal to your kids that are out in the audience or your friends that you went to high school with or your mom that's sitting down with you with the thing. That's where the big deal is. I've always described it as a personal moment that plays itself outlet in front of 3 billion people.

ZAHN (voice-over): A year later, Hanks introduced America to an unlikely hero...

HANKS: You want a chocolate?

ZAHN: ...Forrest Gump. The movie turned into one of the biggest hits of 1994 and led to a nearly unprecedented honor.

HANKS: There was no way to describe what the story was, and yet as you read it, it read faster and faster and faster. And I just thought we could have bottled lightning here. Something's going on.

ZAHN: It would be a case of lightning striking twice.

(on camera): You repeated the triumph a year later, which is the first time I think in what, five decades; someone had won Oscars back to back. Did that mean much to you?

HANKS: By that time, it was clearly about the work. Quite frankly, that -- I mean this was a long time ago, but I remember that it was a pressure-filled year because of the nature of what the movie was. And it just seemed like I was on a -- in an election campaign that just never seemed to end. It just went on and on and on and on and on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Tom Hanks.

ZAHN (voice-over): Coming up, the question everyone wants to know.

(on camera): You're known as the Hollywood nice guy. How have you stayed so nice? You're a good guy.

HANKS: I just try to tell the truth. You know, look, there's no secrets here. At the end of the day, we're just talking about making movies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): By the mid '90s, Tom Hanks was deep into a new phase of his career, taking on roles that honored America's history and the human spirit. In 1995, he starred in "Apollo 13"...

HANKS: What did you do?

ZAHN: ...a retelling of the dramatic moon mission that almost ended in tragedy.

HANKS: Houston, we have a problem.

ZAHN: Hanks would go on to produce "From The Earth To The Moon," a mini series about the U.S. space program.

(on camera): You seem to be drawn to characters who are heroes, when you look at your body of work about World War II, when you look at the stuff you've done on the space program. Is that a common thread that runs through your work? HANKS: Well, here's what I think is interesting, I think the -- all of these -- the nature of an awful lot of the characters that I play are like me except driven, like me except accomplished, like me except willing to go like a farther distance in order to do what they think is expected of them.

ZAHN: Hanks next set his sights on the heroes of World War II. In his first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, "Saving Private Ryan," Hanks played Captain Miller, the resolute leader of a battle- weary squad.

SPIELBERG: When I read the script, I only could see Tom playing Captain Miller. There was no -- I didn't have a second choice. I went right to Tom. Tom, you know, represents, you know, the best in all of us. Young people look at him as their father and older people look at him as their squad leader, their Captain Miller and that we would go into battle with him leading us.

ZAHN: But in 2000, Hanks decided on a change of scenery, opting for something a little more remote.

HANKS: Fire!

ZAHN: In the movie, "Castaway," Hanks pulled off the near impossible, for almost two hours, he shared the screen with just a volleyball...

HANKS: You've got to love crab.

ZAHN: ...and kept audiences riveted.

CASTRO: If that is not aura, if that is not just sheer, like, presence and power, I don't know what is. And I can't think of one other actor that could have pulled that off so well.

HANKS: Yes!

ZAHN: Hanks says he always wants to be interesting, both to his audience and to himself.

HANKS: I have made fire!

I think there are sometimes you can just get so jaded. It's always the same process, it's just the same thing. What am I going to do? Am I going to put on my makeup? And then I'm going to go talk to Paula Zahn about how fascinating the movie was and do I believe in dreams coming true. Am I going to do that again? If you get to the point where you're as jade as that, I don't think -- you're not interested in what's going on in the world. And the world is continuously, always eternally, fascinating place filled with mystery. And you want to embrace it and be a part of it.

ZAHN (voice-over): Despite his long run of Hollywood blockbusters, Hanks' recent films, like "The Lady Killers" and "The Terminal," haven't done as well as expected. ROZEN: When you look in the Tom Hanks' realm of blockbuster, neither "Lady Killers" nor "Terminal" hit it out of the park. Both made under a hundred million and sort of met with mixed critical response. I'm guessing though if you ask Tom Hanks, he's probably happy with both movies.

HANKS: Where do I buy the Nike shoes?

ZAHN: Hanks says during film production, you never know what will become a hit.

HANKS: I can tell you making "Bonfire of The Vanities" and making "Forrest Gump" were the same exact experience. AT one point, I was sitting with Brian Depalma on hand or Robert Zemeckis on the other hand, on some bench somewhere and some courtroom somewhere saying, is anybody going to care about what we're doing here? Are we doing this right? And both of them throw up their hands and say, "Well, you never know. We'll have to see what we find out."

ZAHN: While all his films may not turn into box office winners, Hanks continues to draw audiences.

ROBERT ZEMECKIS, DIRECTOR: I think why he is beloved so much is that in his performances that he does, he understands that what makes a great performance is the truth. And I think that's why audiences identify with him as an actor.

SPIELBERG: He puts himself up there and we say, you know, we want to be him. We want to be that good.

ZAHN: So good that Hanks has earned a reputation for it.

(on camera): I guess there's one thing that amazes me about you is -- and I've been doing a lot of digging on you -- no one's ever said anything but nice things about you. You're known as the Hollywood nice guy. How have you stayed so nice? You're a good guy.

HANKS: Look, I just try to tell the truth. You know, look, there's no secrets here. At the end of the day, we're just talking about making movies. I love talking about making movies. There's no big deal. There's no secrets to keep here. It's an easy enough thing. I like my job and I don't mind doing this, you know. I think people can say...

ZAHN: Thank you.

HANKS: ... well, no, quite frankly, I think people can say that oh, he's a nice guy is because you know I'll do he press. I don't care. You know this isn't -- we're not discussing state secrets here, you know. Hey, I'll mention "Bonfire of The Vanities." I'll bring that out. That's no problem.

ZAHN: What was that experience like with "Bonfire"?

(voice-over): There are no secrets with Hanks. What you see is what you get. So whether he's falling for a fish, growing up overnight, fighting the good fight or searching for Santa, Tom Hanks continues to make us believe.

HANKS: The most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

ZAHN (on camera): At the end of the day, what do you hope people will view as your legacy as a story teller, as a movie maker?

HANKS: I can only claim this as a hope, that he always surprised us. You know, he always took care of us when we sat down. I would like it to be that, you know, he never seemed to be satisfied with a standard way of doing things. If you sat down, he was going to tell you a story for a couple of hours. You were going to go to a place that you never would have expected.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Tom Hanks' new film, "Polar Express," opens this Wednesday and it has plenty of animated competition this holiday season, including "The Incredibles" and "SpongeBob: The Movie."

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, he's back with a surprise hit album of American standards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: This is something I've been wanting to do for 25 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Rod Stewart, his flamboyant life, love affairs and a health scare that almost ended his career when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, I'm Betty Nguyen at the CNN Center here in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues in just a moment, but first, stories now in the news.

American warplanes hit target in Fallujah today, softening of insurgents of the Iraqi city ahead of an expected crackdown. Thousands of Marines are masked outside of Fallujah. At least three- quarters of the city's residents have fled. An estimated 3,000 hard- core insurgents are beloved to be holed up in Fallujah.

And Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is reported in stable condition in a Paris hospital and out of immediate danger. Behind the scenes, though, Palestinian leaders are meeting with political factions to head off any notion of a power vacuum in the PLO and Palestinian Authority.

We are live next hour from Paris and the West Bank on "CNN LIVE SATURDAY". We'll have more news coming up in about 30 minutes. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues right now. Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news. ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. He is the raspy rocker who changed his tune and now he's back on top. Rod Stewart has reinvented himself as a crooner and his latest offering of romantic cover tunes debuted at No. 1 atop the pop charts. That is the first in Stewart's four-decade career. Here's Kyra Phillips.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That voice, that hair, the outfits, the women. With his outrageous style and flamboyant performances, rock legend, Rod Stewart, has entertained fans for more than 25 years.

R. STEWART: I just want to make love to you for 24 hours...

PHILLIPS: And at 59, the veteran rocker has discovered life after rock n roll. With a soulful new collection of American standards, classics like "What a Wonderful World."

R. STEWART: I see skies of blue...

PHILLIPS: ...songs and artists that Stewart has embraced throughout his storied career.

R. STEWART: I think you can -- you can hear in my voice, the love of it, you know. It comes through. You can really breathe some soul into these songs. And this is something I've been wanting to do for 25 years.

PHILLIPS: Stewart just released his third album of American standards, "Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III." The first two Grammy nominated songbooks went platinum, selling more than 10 million copies. A successful new direction for the pop star turned crooner that's put Rod Stewart back in the spotlight.

R. STEWART: I wasn't getting played on MTV or VH-1 and I'm not complaining about that. So this was a great outlet for me, but I really had no idea that it was going to be this successful, not in a million years.

Isn't it romantic...

PHILLIPS: Standards like "Isn't It Romantic," harking back to an era of music that takes Stewart back to his roots in North London.

R. STEWART: And this is where I heard most of these songs or a lot of these songs, anyway. We had huge parties at Christmas. Because I was only little, I was sent to bed. You have to go to bed. And you know, when I could hear everyone singing, I'd creep down and get under -- we had a small Baby Grand piano -- I'd get under there and listen to everyone singing and dancing and being drunk.

PHILLIPS: Roderick David Stewart was born in Highgate North London on January 10, 1945. He was a fifth child of Scottish born, Elsie and Robert Stewart, the proprietors of a small newspaper and candy shop. R. STEWART: It was a working class family from North London, two brothers and two sisters. We're still a very tight family, a tight clan. And I was spoiled rotten because I was the youngest one.

PHILLIPS: The Stewarts loved music and family get-togethers. Stewart's own musical interest began in grade school with a gift from his father.

R. STEWART: Well, me dad bought me a guitar for no apparent reason. And I wanted a station for Christmas, a motor rollaway station. He came home with a guitar. I was absolutely devastated, and he said, "There's money in this. There's going to be money in it for you." So I started learning how to play it.

PHILLIPS: If music was the first love in the Stewart house, soccer was a close second. Robert Stewart was a gregarious father whose lifelong dream was for one of his sons to play professional soccer.

R. STEWART: Me two brothers played, and me dad played, and me grandfather played. We're soccer mad, you know.

PHILLIPS: In high school, Rod was captain of his soccer team. But schoolwork never captured his imagination, and by age 16, he dropped out. After a short stint as a gravedigger and window washer, in 1961, Rod fulfilled his father's dream and joined the Brentford Football Club in West London.

R. STEWART: I think I wanted to keep me dad happy. And with three sons, I was the only one that looked like he could be a professional. So -- but my heart and soul wasn't in it because I'd already fallen in love with music.

PHILLIPS: By 1962, Rod had found his place in London's club scene. It was a heady time of change, both musically and politically. Rod took part in the Ban the Bomb Protest marches in London.

DON STEWART, BROTHER: He started being a bit of a beatnik. He used to go on marches doing God knows what. And he used to roam around the continent. And month -- and you know he'd come back in a hell of a state, run out of money. Dad would fly him the money and off he'd go again.

PHILLIPS: It was during this time that Rod began to sing in public. Two years later, Mod was the fashion and Rod's love of folk music developed into a love of rhythm and blues.

R. STEWART: The first band I was in was called Long John Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Band. And they were all old jazz musicians. And they could drink. So that was where I started drinking big time, you know, because you had to. I was only 19 and they were all in their 40s. It was a little bit drunk bash.

PHILLIPS: Rod played harmonica and sang with Baldry for two years but soon found himself drawn to the rock music that was exploding from London. A meeting with ex-Yardbird's guitarist, Jeff Beck, would open a new door.

The Jeff Beck Group took Rod Stewart to audiences across Europe and on to America where he created his on stage persona. Stewart also began to write his own songs, a mixture of blues, folk, rock and traditional melodies, splitting his time between writing and performing with the Jeff Beck Group.

R. STEWART: It was a great band to be in because Ronnie Wood and I became great friends, really good pals in those days. But it was good musicians. And when you're surrounded by good musicians, you're going to start singing great. And I learned a lot in those days.

PHILLIPS: But Beck's relationship with the band members was fractious and after two-and-a-half years, Stewart left the group.

What did last was Rod's friendship with guitarist, Ron Wood. In October of 1969, Wood and Stewart joined the band, The Faces, a move that would launch Stewart's career as a superstar.

ALAN LIGHT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "TRACKS" MAGAZINE: The Faces were sort of the definitive bar band, kind of sloppy, you know, bashing it out rock n roll band.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, Stewart becomes a rock star and finds love with a famous actress.

LIGHT: There was then just this explosion of material coming from him. For seven years, Rod Stewart was simultaneously a solo artist and the lead singer in The Faces.

PHILLIPS: But a split in both his band and personal life will rock Rod's world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The Faces, live, loud and loaded.

R. STEWART: We were drunk all the time, you know. So I can't remember much about it. It's good fun though.

PHILLIPS: By 1970, Rod Stewart was the lead face in one of the most raucous rock 'n roll bands in the world.

TIM EWBANK, BIOGRAPHER: There's girls and cars and having a good time. They were very destructive on the road at times. They would trash hotel rooms willy-nilly.

PHILLIPS: But Stewart wasn't just the charismatic front man of The Faces in the early '70s. He was a double attraction, pursuing a simultaneous solo career, a solo career that in one song exploded beyond his wildest dreams.

R. STEWART: Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you...

PHILLIPS: "Maggie May" and the album, "Every Picture Tells a Story," made Rod Stewart an international sensation.

R. STEWART: It was a No. 1 and it was a No. 1 single. So after that, everything changed, you know. I suddenly become overnight extremely wealthy.

PHILLIPS: Rich, famous, a rock 'n roll superstar. All Rod Stewart needed now was a gorgeous superstar girlfriend. Enter actress, Britt Ekland.

CASTRO: He never met a blond he didn't like. So you know along comes Britt Ekland. OK, this is fun.

PHILLIPS: But unlike all those blonds before her, Ekland was famous in her own right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take care of the maintenance man.

BRITT EKLAND, ACTRESS: I already did.

PHILLIPS: She was a former Bond girl. She was also very astute to the trappings of celebrity.

EWBANK: I think she kept him at arms length for a while, and you know, to make sure that this wasn't just a passing fancy. But then they fell madly in love and it was a very highly volatile, highly sexual relationship.

PHILLIPS: And it was also a highly publicized relationship. Stewart and Ekland epitomized the rock superstar jetsetters of their time. And wherever they landed, crowds gathered and cameras flashed. Britt Ekland's arrival also marked a new phase in Rod's career, which included a permanent move to Los Angeles.

EWBANK: I think a lot of his fans saw her as the epitome of Hollywood. And they didn't like to see this North London lad with a feeling for the blues going Hollywood as it were and having the big rock star mansion, going to the Hollywood parties and so on.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's 1975 offering "Atlantic Crossing..."

R. STEWART: I am sailing...

PHILLIPS: ... and the single, "Sailing," didn't help matters with the hard-core rock fans either. Both the album and the ballad were seen as pop departures meant to attract a wider, more mature audience. But Rod bounced back big with a night on the town...

R. STEWART: Tonight's the night...

PHILLIPS: ...and the sexually charged hit, "Tonight's The Night." Rod's ongoing and lucrative solo success, once viewed as a good thing within The Faces, was now a point of contention.

R. STEWART: Well a lot of people would think, oh, Rod left the group. Well, actually he didn't. I left The Faces because Ronnie was going to join The Stones. We talked about it and that's where he wanted to go. And I believed him. I think I really deep down thought we'd taken The Faces as far as we could. So they were broke up.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's relationship with Britt Ekland was also beginning to show cracks. She had quickly become involved in almost every aspect of his life from his career to the way he dressed.

EWBANK: She had very good taste but at the same time she'd manipulated his career a bit and even in one album cover put him in a straw boater, which he absolutely loathed. And I think he was then ready to shake off all of that and start anew.

PHILLIPS: Stewart and Ekland stuck it out until 1978, a pivotal year personally and professionally.

R. STEWART: If you want my body and you think I'm sexy, come on...

PHILLIPS: "Do You Think I'm Sexy" was a worldwide phenomenon.

LIGHT: The thing to remember always when talking with "Do You Think I'm Sexy" is it was a really big hit. It also gave him a hit at a moment when a lot of rock stars were getting smashed by the popularity of disco.

PHILLIPS: For all its success, however, "Do You Think I'm Sexy" moved Rod's career farther away from rock and more toward pop. At the same time, his split from girlfriend, Britt Ekland, had become nasty. She filed a massive palimony suit against Stewart.

EWBANK: Britt sued for many millions. And I understand that the legal settlement was something in the region of $15 million.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's first intense, long-term relationship was over and popular music was changing. He was somewhat adrift. But it didn't take him long to find an anchor. Alana Hamilton was the ex- wife of actor George Hamilton. She was a model, aspiring actress, and of course, blond. But she was also determined and outspoken, a surprising choice for Rod by many accounts. Even more surprising to family and friends was the couple's decision to wed.

EWBANK: I think he wanted to get married because he was mid-30s and I think he really thought that this -- you know, that this was the one.

PHILLIPS: One of rock's most confirmed bachelors tied the knot in April of 1979. Three months later, Stewart's daughter, Kimberly, was born. And a year after that came son, Sean. Rod struggled to balance his life as a husband, father, and superstar.

EWBANK: Rod found that very difficult to play the father, the doting father, because he's always been very, very good to his kids, and a very devoted father and yet live up to the image of this roistering rock star with this, you know, rock n roll lifestyle.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's touring, his life style and new family quickly strained his marriage.

When our profile of Rod Stewart continues, it's another heartbreak, a few more blonds, a couple of comebacks, and one serious scare.

R. STEWART: It was a period where I didn't think I was going to sing again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

R. STEWART: Some guys have all the luck...

PHILLIPS (voice-over): While Rod Stewart was a fixture on MTV throughout the '80s with hit singles like "Some Guys Have All The Luck" and "Baby Jane," his music wandered between rock and pop.

LIGHT: He would go a little more rock and bring the guitars up and then go very straight pop. And, you know, then there would be a hit every few years, there would be a "Passion."

R. STEWART: Even the president needs passion.

LIGHT: And there would be "Infatuation".

R. STEWART: Oh no, not again.

LIGHT: He could continue to tour. He was still famous. He was still a celebrity but it just didn't have that focus and that drive especially that defined that first decade of his career.

PHILLIPS: The pressures of his career on his five-year marriage to Alana Hamilton would prove too much. In 1984, they filed for divorce. Rod began dating again, and had a serious relationship with model, Kelly Emberg. The couple had a daughter, Ruby, in 1987, but would part ways two years later. In 1990, Rod met yet another blond, a young model from New Zealand, Rachel Hunter, and fell fast.

CASTRO: He was smitten with Rachel Hunter from the get go. I mean, who wouldn't be? She was gorgeous, "Sports Illustrated" model, statuesque, blonde, beautiful. And he was just taken and blown away by her.

PHILLIPS: On December 15, 1990, Rod walked down the aisle for a second time, marrying the 21-year-old model in Beverly Hills. Rod and Rachel would have two children together, a daughter, Renee, and son, Liam. Rod appeared to be growing up both in his personal life and his career. That next year, Stewart had his first top 10 album in a decade, "Vagabond Hearts."

R. STEWART: The rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum...

PHILLIPS: But by the late '90s, Stewart wasn't getting airplay and his eight-year marriage to Rachel Hunter began to unravel.

EWBANK: And I think she found it difficult simply being regarded -- although she had a great career as a model, as you know, Mrs. Rod Stewart. And I think she felt there was more to life than that. Eventually, she walked out on him and he was absolutely devastated.

PHILLIPS: Then in February of 2000, an even more devastating discovery. After a routine CAT scan, Stewart was diagnosed with cancer.

R. STEWART: They found a sort of lump on the thyroid gland but it was a very small lump and I was in and out of hospital in 24 hours. But it -- you know they cut me from here to here, so it really wrecked my voice for nine months. And there was a period when I didn't think I was going to sing again.

PHILLIPS: The surgery threatened to shatter his career.

R. STEWART: It was worrying, you know. I didn't know what I was going to do. This thing that I loved doing so much and it's obviously going to be taken away.

PHILLIPS: Stewart recovered but the veteran performer would have to learn to sing again.

R. STEWART: I had singing lessons again. I just got the band together and we -- I'd just go in there every day and try to sing "Maggie May" or "Hot Legs." I'd really just strain it.

PHILLIPS: He would eventually regain his voice but regaining his popularity was a different story. Record sales slumped until 2002 when a collection of American standards breathed new life back into his career.

Rod has also found love again with British model, Penny Lancaster, a blonde, of course.

It's been an amazing comeback for the music icon. Following the success of his platinum-selling "Great American Songbook," Stewart has released his third collection of American standards, "Stardust." And at 59, Rod Stewart is proving that blondes do have more fun.

R. STEWART: You know I can't do this forever. And I'm having this huge success right now and I might as well enjoy it. And I enjoy it by going out and touring, singing and one laugh and have a good time.

Lucky to be loving you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Rod Stewart's new album, "Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III," song 240,000 copies in its first week.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. I hope you'll be back with us next week.

ANNOUNCER: And for more people in the news, please pick up a copy of "People" magazine.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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