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Rampant Floods; Remembering Lauren Bacall; Robin Williams Suicide, Interview with Marilu Henner

Aired August 13, 2014 - 08:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, some breaking news. Talk about a mess. Heavy, heavy rain flooding parts of the northeast, even closing major roadways. Check out this. This is Long Island's flooded Southern State Parkway. Cars submerged. Looks like a river. People stranded. We want to get straight to meteorologist Indra Petersons.

What a mess. Any time it's going to subside soon?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Michaela, we're seeing that system make its way out of here but you have to keep in mind they saw over five inches of rain in an hour. They've seen over 13 inches of rain in (INAUDIBLE) on Long Island. That is almost near the record for the entire month. That is key. This is how much rain is going to continue to move through the area, right now making its way through southern Connecticut, heading towards Rhode Island and even Boston today. So this is going to be the concern.

We're still talking about rainfall rates of two to three inches per hour there. And notice all of this really seen (ph) record rainfall in through D.C. yesterday, spreading through Jersey, now seeing all of this again, pushing in towards Massachusetts. This is going to be the concern because it is commute time.

Let's put this in perspective. They have seen over a foot of rain in (INAUDIBLE) in Long Island. That is almost three times the amount that they should see the entire month. And again, almost nearing the record for any month. All of this falling in just a few hours. That is how dangerous the situation is. Of course we still have the flash flood warnings in effect. Even now spreading in through southern Connecticut thanks to a very slow moving system that's going to continue to bring all this water in off of the Atlantic and really bring that moisture into the area. And, Michaela, I have to stress this, it is commute time. That is what makes this so dangerous. People are saying, you know what, it is worth risking. It is not. Most deaths do occur in a vehicle and, unfortunately, this is not worth risking. We talk about record rainfall falling in just a few hours.


PEREIRA: Yes, you've been talking about that danger of standing water and flooding waters like that, how fast it moves. Thanks, Indra. We'll watch that, of course, here on CNN.

Hollywood, though, has lost another legend, actress Lauren Bacall, who became an instant star after this performance.


LAUREN BACALL, ACTRESS: You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.


PEREIRA: Just 19 at the time in "To Have and Have Not." It was her first big screen role. She was opposite the iconic Humphrey Bogart, who she would later marry a year later. She died Tuesday at the age 89. The tributes are pouring in, including one, I think my favorite, calling her the damest (ph) of the dames.


PEREIRA: And I could get an amen from you, I know.

One thing I know, Nischelle, who's here with me to talk about one of Hollywood's greatest leading ladies -


PEREIRA: Not really comfortable with the term legend. She's bristled that.

TURNER: No. She said that right on CNN. She told Larry King that. She thought, in her words, that the word legend was not of this earth. That it meant that you were dead. So she didn't like when people called her a legend. But I heard you say, that's my kind of gal, and I think a lot of people this morning are saying that about her, that's my kind of gal.

PEREIRA: She really had this powerful persona that oozed in all of her work. I want to show you a scene from 1946, "The Big Sleep," starring across from her -

TURNER: Humphrey Bogart.

PEREIRA: Husband, Humphrey Bogart.


BACALL: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them work out a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind. Find out what their whole card (ph) is, what makes them run.


PEREIRA: It was these strong characters she --

TURNER: Look at the chemistry with them.

PEREIRA: And the chemistry was real. Can we talk about that for a second? TURNER: Yes.

PEREIRA: This was a love affair. She talked about -- even though she was married several times, she spoke of this one great marriage to him.

TURNER: Yes. And it was to him. And, you're right, she played a lot of strong characters, which back in those days spoke a lot to a woman in the movies.


TURNER: She really was groundbreaking in that way.


TURNER: And the two of them, the love affair between them, a "Washington Post" columnist wrote this morning, forget Brad and Angelina, these who invented scandal.

PEREIRA: These were the originators. Right.

TURNER: I mean immediately on the screen there them there was this chemistry. He was married to someone else when they met. They fell in love on the set and their love lasted. I mean it was really one of the greatest Hollywood love stories that we've ever seen.

PEREIRA: She also said back in '96 that her career would have taken off if she didn't marry him but that she -- in the same breath that she didn't regret marrying him at all.

TURNER: Not a day.

PEREIRA: Truest love of her life she said.

TURNER: Oh, I need to find that love.

PEREIRA: I know, right? Let's get (INAUDIBLE).

TURNER: Exactly.

PEREIRA: Bogart-esque (ph).

Nischelle, thank you for a great look.

TURNER: We'll miss Lauren Bacall.

PEREIRA: The tributes are pouring in. We really will.

TURNER: Yes, indeed.

PEREIRA: Thanks so much.

Still ahead on NEW DAY, more on Robin Williams' suicide. We're going to talk about the connection, if there is one, between comedians and depression. We'll speak to a psychologist about that very topic. Also, we're going to speak to a friend who was with Williams at the

very beginning of his career and worked with him at the very end of it. Actress Marilu Henner joins us.


PEREIRA: Welcome back.

The tragic and sudden passing of Robin Williams has generated an outpouring of tributes to the amazing man and has also started quite a conversation that is often avoided, the one about mental health. We want to discuss the actor's struggle with addiction and depression. We bring in psychologist Wendy Walsh, who joins us from Los Angeles, where it is o-dark-o'clock, I believe.

Wendy, good to see you again.


PEREIRA: Sorry it's to talk about this, but it's an important discussion to have. Many comedian and performers have been talking quite openly about the link they see between comedy and depression. Williams himself was very open about it even in some of his performances. Take a look at this clip. I think it's from an HBO special entitled "Weapons of Self Destruction."


ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: And alcohol is especially dangerous for people like myself, alcoholics, or you can say ethanol challenged, whatever you want to call it. You get drunk, you go out for Indian food, you wake up in Bombay with a camel licking your (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Ta-da, you are an alcoholic.


PEREIRA: We chuckle about it now, but I even watched your face. You kind of grimaced when he said that. Is laughter the best medicine?

WALSH: Well, it may not be the best, but certainly, you know, the grandfather of psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud said that they're the only two healthy defenses against psychic pain and one is sublimation, helping others with similar pain, and the other is humor. So it is a defense, meaning that it's like a band aid but it's not a healer. It doesn't get to the bottom of the wound and do any healing work.

PEREIRA: Big difference between a band aid and a healer. So then, on the other flip side, we know it can be quite exhilarating performing in front of a live audience. Can laughter then also be somewhat intoxicating, like a drug or alcohol?

WALSH: Well, any performance can have that effect on people. I, you know, know people who are musicians. And as - you know, you always ask those questions, he's so old, why is he still on stage performing. Because as long as there were - people to listen, those rock stars will want to get that charge, right? So, yes, performing in front of an audience can bring this boost of endorphin and good feeling to people.

PEREIRA: But I also then wonder that you, as a psychologist, watching a performance like that, or maybe any other of them, or even just how, you know, some of his performances have been, do you look at it differently than say I do who just get a chuckle out of it or do you - do you see red flags in some of those performance?

WALSH: I would say more importantly than when I watch a performance, when I hear the little jokes everybody makes in life all day long -


WALSH: Because there's a little truth behind every joke. And it's very telling about people's personalities.

PEREIRA: We know that he sought treatment through the years. He had recovered. He battled depression and he battled alcoholism, as I mentioned several bouts in rehab. The question everybody wants to asked is, why didn't it work? Why didn't it stick? It's not that easy, is it, Wendy?

WALSH: No, because it's a two pronged healing process for him. One is, once you start on that road to addiction and you're self-medicating your pain, now your neurochemistry is on its own roller coaster ride. So the first prong, of course, is to get off that addiction, which is his own piece. But as soon as you do, that means you're letting go of your pain killer and all the feelings bubble to the surface and they may be terrible feelings and be very difficult to manage and so then becomes the long, hard journey of deep psychotherapy.

PEREIRA: And that long, hard journey often doesn't end, you know, and that's an important point to have (ph).

WALSH: The problem is, they have to get back up on stage. You know, when you go into therapy, you're in this - you know, if you're doing it well, sometimes you get into a deep repressed state - or, sorry, what am I saying, like an infantile almost state, all your emotions are raw. But when you go and perform, you've got to put up that big wall again. So you have to flip-flop. But it's very, very difficult.

PEREIRA: Well, in the days where we're all getting used to the idea that Robin Williams doesn't walk among us any more, and while we recover from this shocking news and the healing begins for at least the people that knew him very well, hopefully this conversation about mental health will continue.

Wendy Walsh, always a pleasure. Thanks so much.

WALSH: I hope so. Nice to see you.

PEREIRA: All right. Short break here on NEW DAY. Ahead, we'll have much more on Robin Williams. We're going to speak with a longtime friend, actress Marilu Henner, about what he was like when they were both starting out in the business.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Friends of Robin Williams are still coming to terms really with the loss of the iconic actor, friend, comedian.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Actress Marilu Henner first got to know Robin Williams in the '70s when they were both starting out in the TV business, really getting their hits.. He was in "Mork and Mindy" she was in "Taxi." Recently she appeared on Williams' TV series "The Crazy Ones" playing his ex-wife. Williams even tweeted this picture of them all together on set with actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. Many happy memories there, you can see. Marilu Henner is joining us now from Los Angeles.


BOLDUAN (on camera): Thank you so much for waking up early and taking the time to remember.

MARILU HENNER, ACTRESS: You know, I'm so -- Robin was incredible. It's so funny because it's so rare that you connect with somebody, you know, you meet them. We were in an improv class together before "Taxi" and "Mork and Mindy." A year before the two series and over the years - - well, first of all, "Taxi" and "Mork and Mindy" like shot right near each other so we were part of that incredible Paramount family with "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," "Working Stiffs" was there, "Bosom Buddies" over time. So we all, like, had a great time together and it was like going to the best high school ever.

And then over the years, he and I ran into each other so many times and had this crazy connection of like, we'd turn a corner and there we both were. Whether it was, you know, at the Hollywood Bowl one night because we were both on stage or Comic Relief, of course, so many different things. And then when I got to spend a week with him playing his ex-wife on "The Crazy Ones" we got to reconnect. I'm telling you, that was like the happiest, most wonderful set I think I've ever worked on and the people were great and it was because of Robin. You know, it felt like a real family because he was like this heart.

He was this incredibly brilliant and talented man, but he was so warm and he was, you know how sometimes actors are the kind of people where they are the intensive care unit type where you have to, like, take a reading in the room before you go up to them? He wasn't like that. He was like always, you know, he was like always welcoming to everyone, whether it was bringing your family over to him or whatever.

BOLDUAN: I get the sense -- I can feel your love almost of this man and his talents and what he gave. And I also get the sense that it almost doesn't seem real to you. What we're talking about.

HENNER: It doesn't. I really thought it was a hoax. A friend of mine texted me and I just said no. And then I went, oh no, that's got to be some kind of hoax because when I saw him just a few months ago I couldn't believe he was so fit. He seemed so calm. He seemed, like, happy. Madly in love with his wife, would just say the sweetest things. She was on the set, Susan was on the set. It just seemed, we were sharing kid pictures, just catching up with each other. And the set was so happy, you know, everybody just seemed like they loved being there and it was a true family because of him.

BOLDUAN: It breaks my heart just hearing you describe how happy it was. I mean, if you saw any change in him it almost sounds like you saw a change for the better.

HENNER: Well, he was, you know, he was in great shape. We were in bed scenes, you know. He had his shirt off. And I said Robin, I cannot believe how great you look and obviously you have been working out and eating well and taking care of yourself and he just seemed very, you know, like he had come to a place in his life where he felt like, wow I feel really good. I'm really in shock. I really am. Because it doesn't seem possible. And yet I know it is. He just was so -- he went out of his way for people. You could just feel it all the time and was just this incredible, incredibly warm -- I think that's what everybody is stressing, that he was just this lovely, giving, sweet, sensitive, interested human being. He will be sorely missed.

BOLDUAN: How do you make, or how are you able to make sense of it then with the man that you saw just a few months ago and the reality that you're faced with right now?

HENNER: You know, depression is a scary thing. I think it's one of the best kept secrets in the world and people have people in their family, or they're depressed or, you know, it's so -- there's still such a stigma attached to it and we don't get the help or we don't get the information out that we should. I really do hope this opens up a big dialogue because you just never know what goes on underneath the surface.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

HENNER: And, you know, it's really -- it's shocking and it's -- I just hope -- well Robin was such a tremendous influence, I'm sure that he will be influencing the world this way as well.

BOLDUAN: And many have said while it's important to have that conversation about this best kept secret, its also important to remember all the joy that he brought to so many people's lives. I can only imagine the memories and the stories that you have from that studio lot with all of these amazing shows filming at the same time. What was it like between takes?

HENNER: Oh, my gosh. Well on the "Taxi" set forget about it. We did 112 shows, we had 112 parties and everybody came and hung out with us every single Friday. Four times a year we'd have these crazy dance parties that would go on until the middle of


BOLDUAN: And I think I've even seen you describe what a killer dancer he was. HENNER: Yes, he was. He was great. I mean, Robin was wild on the dance

floor. He was wonderful. He's just -- you know I feel like I've known him for so long and got to see him through so many different stages. He was actually, I was at Comic Relief four hours before I gave birth to my son and he sent over a poster after that. I didn't know I was in labor. I thought I was just with Robin.

BOLDUAN: Robin feels like a contraction. I get it, I get it.

HENNER: No, no, no, I meant - -

BOLDUAN: I'm kidding.

HENNER: I was, like, laughing so hard my sides, my stomach was hurting.

BOLDUAN: Good to remember if I'm overdue with my impending baby coming in October.

HENNER: Watch a Robin Williams movie.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right. What is the funniest memory you have with him?

HENNER: He was so fast. You know, I mean, he was just so crazy fast with anything. I introduced him to my son at the Hollywood Bowl, Joey, little red hair, freckles, kind of a Beatle haircut, and he was like, "Oh, Ronnie Howard stunt double." I saw him work a crowd at the improv, so you knew that none of his material was canned, you know. He was totally fresh, in the moment. That rapid fire mind just firing on all cylinders. He walked through an audience and just like person to person connected the dots and connected the, you know, exactly what he was observing and dealing with. You know, I mean, he was hilarious. He met my sister, Crystal, who is quite beautiful and he said, have this woman washed and sent to my tent. He just, like, said anything. You never knew what was going the fly out of his mouth.

BOLDUAN: It was always better than anything we could come up with, right?

HENNER: Oh, my gosh. And hilarious, just hilarious. Voices. Accents. You know, and just so fresh and there. You never felt like he wasn't in the moment. And that's -- that's what makes it all the more painful.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Well, Marilu, thank you for sharing in the laughter and also sharing in this moment and sharing some of those memories with us. Really appreciate it.

HENNER: Yes. He was great.

BOLDUAN: Alright. Thanks so much for your time. Its great to see you.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to have more on the role of the 130 U.S. advisors that are sent into Iraq now. Will they help rescue Iraqis stranded on top of that barren mountain surrounded by ISIS? Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Thank you for joining us today. We're going to hand you over to "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO: Hey, hey, Kate. Good morning. Have a great day. NEWSROOM starts now.