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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Ray Charles Dead at 73; Thousands of Americans Say Farewell to President Reagan
Aired June 10, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Today in Washington, tens of thousands of Americans say farewell to President Ronald Reagan
And in 1985, Ray Charles played for Ronald Reagan's second inaugural. Today, the magnificent Ray Charles died at age 73. Tonight, we remember.
ZAHN: And good evening from Washington on yet another warm night here. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Tomorrow, family, friends, admirers and world leaders will gather at the National Cathedral here in our nation's capital for the funeral of Ronald Reagan. The list includes a roster of giants from the Cold War era like Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, and Poland's Lech Walesa.
But this day has been one for ordinary Americans. Americans in suits and ties, jeans and shorts, young and old, they all came to say goodbye. And tonight at the U.S. Capitol, thousands continue to file by the coffin holding our 40th president. It is expected that more than 200,000 people will have paid their respects.
But in this new world, with concerns for safety and security, there was a stark reminder yesterday of just how unsettling these times are.
Here is homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incoming aircraft. Capitol Building being evacuated.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell us at all what is going on?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A confluence of post-9/11 protocols, Reagan funeral security jitters, and a plane's technical malfunction combined to trigger the evacuation of the Capitol.
The pilot of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's plane radioed air traffic controllers shortly after his 2:53 takeoff from Cincinnati that the train's transponder, which transmits identifying information, was not fully functioning. That presented little problem to controllers, who kept him on his designated route to Reagan National Airport.
But it was a problem when a special command post set up to monitor air traffic in the Washington area picked up a plane 43 miles west of Reagan National. Uncertain about its identity, they called air traffic controllers. At 4:24 p.m., two Air Force fighters were diverted to verify that the unidentified plane was, indeed, the governor's plane.
Sometime before 4:34, officials called for an evacuation of the Capitol. One minute after that, the fighter pilots gave the all- clear. But the evacuation, already under way, continued for another 15 hair-raising minutes. Governor Fletcher and his staff insist they did nothing wrong.
DANIEL GROVES, FLETCHER CHIEF OF STAFF: There was a lack of communication somewhere between air traffic control and the military or whoever was controlling the airspace, the restricted airspace. But at no time did the plane veer off course.
MESERVE: Homeland officials insist that the air defense system worked exactly as it should have. And the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says he made the right decision.
TERRANCE GAINER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Well, I think it went very well. It was frightening both for the people that were in the building and for our officers. But based on the information I had at the time, that was the only decision I could make.
MESERVE: But at least one member of Congress is asking if the evacuation was really necessary.
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: I think Washington tends to overreact. Washington is full of its self-importance. And there is just a jitteriness that sets in there.
MESERVE: The entire Capitol Building was evacuated in just four minutes, according to congressional sources. But some say the exit of members, staff and special guests on hand for the Reagan funeral was chaotic.
Congressional employees say an alarm system installed after 9/11 did not work in all parts of the building. And although an emergency pager system sent out the all-clear, it never sent out word of the evacuation itself.
(on camera): Capitol Police Chief Gainer says those issues will be looked into and necessary corrections made. Some are saying that the evacuation may have been a blessing, in the sense that it exposed flaws in what turned out to be a nonemergency situation.
ZAHN: Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve reporting for us tonight.
One of the people who was in the middle of yesterday's evacuation of the Capitol was Terence Samuel. He is the chief congressional correspondent for "U.S. News and World Report." He joins us now.
Good to see you. Welcome.
TERENCE SAMUEL, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": Thanks for having me.
ZAHN: So did the alarm sound where you were?
SAMUEL: It did.
ZAHN: And what did you think when it went off?
SAMUEL: It sounded like an ordinary fire drill.
Needless to say, we understood that yesterday was not an ordinary day in Washington. Big things were about to happen. I was in a phone booth interviewing a congressman in a House office building. I heard the alarm. People started moving. I thought it was a fire drill. Suddenly, I heard screams and yells, this is not a drill, let's go.
So we started moving out. When I exited the Capitol, I heard somebody say -- it was a Secret Service agent -- we have an inbound aircraft. At that point, I think the pace picked up for everybody around me.
ZAHN: The pace picked up. Were you frightened at all?
SAMUEL: I was terrified. It was an ordinary kind of anticipatory day punctuated by a moment of extreme terror. It lasted for about five minutes.
ZAHN: Which is long enough.
SAMUEL: That's a long time.
ZAHN: Jeanne Meserve in her report just said that the alarm system didn't work the way it was supposed to. What have we learned from this unfortunate exercise you all had to go through yesterday?
SAMUEL: I think a lot of people thought that what we learned is that we live in an age of high anxiety. And there was -- yes, there was a lot of discussion about whether the alarm worked as it should be, but I think what a lot of people came away with was that we're still living with echoes of 9/11 and stuff like this is going to keep happening.
ZAHN: And before that five-minute window was up, how would you characterize how people reacted? Would you say, in general, besides trying to sprint the heck out of there, they did it in an orderly way or did you see pushing and shoving? SAMUEL: I think people did what they were told. There were a lot of cops being very serious about what they were doing. And you didn't second-guess what they were telling you. You moved. And there was not pushing and shoving. There was a lot of ground to cover and people were doing the best that they could.
ZAHN: And, unfortunately, it came together at the same time. So many people were lined up outside the Capitol to pay their respects to Ronald Reagan. Just a thought on that and the confluence of the two events.
SAMUEL: Like I said, it was a moment of high anticipation. The casket had just arrived. The previous two days, we had been kind of looking forward to this.
It's always kind of interesting to see large crowds in Washington for whatever reason. This was a solemn one. And, suddenly, you had this unbelievable moment where you realized that, you know, it's not something you can plan for.
ZAHN: Well, thank goodness it was only as a result of a transponder apparently not working on a plane that actually had been given clearance to go through that airspace.
Terence Samuel, thank you for your time tonight.
SAMUEL: Thanks for having me.
ZAHN: When we come back, a trusted Reagan aide who stood vigil at the Capitol through the night, and former Press Secretary James Brady. Tragedy ended their working relationship, but not their friendship. Plus, intimate photos rarely seen, memories of the Reagans from a man who captured some very personal moments coming up.
ZAHN: This evening, President and Mrs. Bush joined thousands of Americans at the Capitol Rotunda to view the coffin of President Reagan. That viewing continues into tomorrow morning.
And among those who ceremonially stood guard in the Capitol last night is a longtime friend of the Reagans. Jim Kuhn flew with them to Washington in 1980 and flew out with them eight years later. As the president executive assistant, he was privy to the president's public and private moments. And he joins us now.
Good of you to join us.
JIM KUHN, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT REAGAN: Good to be here, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: You had the unenviable task last night of standing guard at the midnight-beyond vigil. Describe to us what that experience was like.
KUHN: Well, you can never prepare yourself for that. And we knew it was -- it would come eventually.
But to be there the first time, it was a moment that you'll remember forever. But beyond myself, to watch the other people, to go there with your family and to see people go through there from 11:30 at night until 4:15 a.m., a constant flow, senior citizens, mothers, fathers, young children, I was very, very moved by that. And they just...
ZAHN: What did you absorb from that?
KUHN: I started reflecting.
I went back to 1985, when he gave his inaugural address in that same Rotunda, when we had the blizzard and the subzero temperatures on January 20, 1985.
ZAHN: I remember that.
KUHN: And we had to move the ceremony inside.
I thought of him standing in that area of the Rotunda giving that speech. I stepped over into Statuary Hall, adjacent to the Rotunda, where he gave a very historic toast to members of Congress in 1981 and announced that the American hostages had just been freed, they had cleared Iranian airspace. I thought back to those very positive times in his presidency.
And right before you, there he was. And to me, it was goodbye and very hard to accept.
ZAHN: You were at the president's side day and night. And if anyone were ever to have seen a disconnect between someone's public behavior and private behavior, you would of seen it.
ZAHN: You never saw that, did you?
KUHN: There was no such thing. There was never a disconnect. The most genuine person you could ever meet, know, work around, constantly the same, caring, giving, hardworking, thinking, loving, in terms of Mrs. Reagan, a very well-rounded man.
ZAHN: Nancy Reagan was sometimes described as someone who was overly involved with her husband's work in the White House. How would you characterize what you saw when the two of them were together?
KUHN: She knew one thing, that he was too nice and had a hard time saying no.
But she also knew that he could be very firm in terms of policy. But, when you are president, there are those people from time to time that have hidden agendas. And she knew that. I knew that also. There -- people, the chief of staff knew that. So there were those that were protective of the president. And she clearly led that list, but in a very positive since. ZAHN: She was very instinctual, wasn't she?
KUHN: Yes, she was. A very sharp lady. And I must say, Nancy Reagan deserves an immense amount of credit for his success. She was there every waking moment, watching out and making sure that things were done right for her roommate, as she referred to him.
ZAHN: And we want to close with some images of you at the ranch with the Reagans, a place that he profoundly enjoyed.
KUHN: His beloved ranch, yes.
ZAHN: How important was that for him to have that place where he felt so in touch with his soul?
KUHN: That was very important.
We -- Mike Deaver made it very clear when he left after four years. He said, whatever you do, make sure this man gets his ranch time. That is the most important thing to him. And even though Mrs. Reagan was not a rancher, per se, she spent a lot of time there, because she knew how important it was to the president, to Ronnie, to her roommate. And she spent a lot of time there with him to ensure that he was happy.
ZAHN: Jim Kuhn, thank you for sharing your stories with us tonight.
KUHN: Very proud to be here. Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate your coming by.
Just ahead, we're going to continue our remembrance of Ronald Reagan through the memories of friends and colleagues. James and Sarah Brady reflect on a sweet victory and a fateful turn of events.
Then another American original passes from the scene -- the soulful Ray Charles coming up.
ZAHN: The nation held its breath on March 30, 1981, when gunfire greeted President Reagan as he left a Washington hotel after a speech. The president was hit, but he recovered fully from his injury.
Unfortunately, Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, wasn't as lucky. The shooting changed his life forever.
ZAHN (voice-over): James Brady joined Ronald Reagan's campaign in 1980 and quickly won praise for his energy and irrepressible humor. Brady's irreverence sometimes got him in hot water, but it also got him noticed. He fulfilled his lifelong dream when he became President Reagan's press secretary in 1981.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES BRADY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His first meeting with the White House press corps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: In those early days, Brady relished working for the president, the man he so admired. But just two months after the inauguration, Brady almost lost everything. He was caught in the crossfire of John Hinckley's failed assassination attempt. Brady survived, but suffered grave brain damage and was left partially paralyzed, facing years of painful rehabilitation.
Throughout his recovery, Nancy and Ronald Reagan stood by Brady and his wife, Sarah. And the president made sure that the press secretary, known affectionately as the bear, would still have a job at the White House.
ZAHN: Of course, James Brady never worked at the White House again, but he still has a big influence in Washington. His strength and courage in coping with his injuries have been nothing short of inspirational.
And, earlier, I spoke with James Brady and his wife, Sarah.
ZAHN: And, Sarah and Jim Brady, good of you to join us. Thank you.
J. BRADY: Thank you.
SARAH BRADY, WIFE OF JAMES BRADY: Thank you for having us.
ZAHN: What is it that you'd like our audience to know tonight about Ronald Reagan, the man and how he treated you as another human being?
J. BRADY: He was one of the most decent people I've ever met in my life. I don't know how they packed all that optimism in one person, but he was an optimist.
They would -- he would say that he was going to end the Soviet Union. And they would say, no, don't go there. You can't do that. He'd say, yes, I can, because I believe I can. And I will. And he did.
ZAHN: Describe him in the early days before he became president, what it was like to be out on the campaign trail with him.
J. BRADY: He was a hoot.
ZAHN: He thinks -- or he thought the same of you. You had a good relationship? J. BRADY: We did.
And I remember we set up in first class in the campaign plane. And he said, Jim, come here. I have something I want to tell you. And it was always the story with a point. It made infinite sense based on what we were doing at that time.
ZAHN: Sarah, I know Jim has shared with you a lot of those stories, not only from the early days, but the stories later on at the White House. Do you have a favorite one that you think personifies who Ronald Reagan was?
S. BRADY: Well, I think most of the ones that I remember is of stories of when he was reading something and there would be sort of a child maybe who was having trouble in school or some kind of problem. And he would immediately call out and say, get ahold of them. I want to talk to them and find out.
He had such empathy. He just knew -- understood the problems people were having, because I think he'd been around so much.
S. BRADY: I think he was the most amazing man. And maybe at the time, people didn't realize it. And it's so wonderful to see it coming out now.
ZAHN: Just two months after Ronald Reagan became president, your life was forever changed by an assassination attempt.
J. BRADY: Yes.
ZAHN: Remind all of us how the president helped you through that horrible challenge you faced.
J. BRADY: Well, he made sure that we were included in everything, state dinners. And I would raise my head up in my hospital bed and there would be the president and the first lady.
ZAHN: What did that mean to you?
J. BRADY: Well, it's more than a gesture. What a wonderful thing for the first lady and the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, to come in and to see how you were doing that day. He had many other things he could do. And he did many other things.
ZAHN: Sarah, I know that you feel that the president's relationship has always been very important to Jim and it was really key to his recovery.
S. BRADY: It really was.
It was so wonderful of him, knowing that it meant -- for Jim to recover, he had to, I think -- knowing he had the support of somebody like the president of the United States behind you. And to keep Jim as press secretary -- and even though he was going to physical therapy, he'd go into the White House and be able to sit at his desk and sign letters and so forth. And that meant so much.
ZAHN: It must have been difficult for the president to accept what happened to Jim Brady.
S. BRADY: Very, I think.
ZAHN: That he took a bullet intended for the president.
S. BRADY: Well, I don't know that -- I think he just felt so sad about it. He called me to come and see him when he first found out, which was maybe 24 to 48 hours after the shooting. They didn't tell the president right away what had happened to Tim or Jim or Tom.
And when he found out about Jim, he called me. And I went into his bedside. And there he is in his pajamas. And I was shaking like a leaf. Not many people go to see the president in their pajamas. And he was just crushed, absolutely crushed. And it was so -- such a feeling of hurt.
But then he saw Jim get better. And they'd have fun together and laugh together. And, over the years, we're very -- we did things like go to Super Bowl parties there and watch movies and parties in their residence when we visited them in Bel Air when they were out there.
ZAHN: It had to be very reassuring to know that the president wanted you to be taken of.
J. BRADY: Very. That's an understatement.
ZAHN: So you're grateful for that?
J. BRADY: Yes, I certainly am. And when we'd go to the ranch, he'd point out which horse was first horse. And then there was first dog.
S. BRADY: They loved their animals. He loved his horses.
And they loved their dogs. The last time we were with them at their home in Bel Air, it was just them and Jim and me and the dog. That day, the dog kept jumping on the sofa.
J. BRADY: A Jack Russell.
ZAHN: A cute dog.
S. BRADY: And the president would say, I think this dog ought to be on the floor, Nancy. And she'd say, oh, he's fine, he's fine.
And they were like any other fun married couple.
J. BRADY: ... warp 50.
S. BRADY: Talking about playing with that dog. And we had a wonderful visit with them then and had no clue about the Alzheimer's at that time. It would seem more hearing loss than anything else.
ZAHN: Well, we know how personal all these stories are. And we thank you both for coming in tonight to share them with us.
S. BRADY: Well, thank you for...
J. BRADY: We thank you for having us in.
ZAHN: My pleasure.
S. BRADY: He was a wonderful man.
ZAHN: And when we come back, the president and the iron lady, Margaret Thatcher. Plus, behind the scenes at the Reagan White House, rarely seen photos of the life away from the spotlight. You're going to meet the man who took them. And then, they brought elegance and grace to the nation's capital. A look at Reagan style a bit later on.
ZAHN: Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain a year and a half before Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States, but they were completely in synch politically. Ms. Thatcher will deliver a eulogy for President Reagan tomorrow on tape, due to a stroke she suffered recently.
Tom Foreman tells us more about the Reagan-Thatcher political partnership.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He called her his political soulmate. She called him the second most important man in her life. And the political marriage of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was love at first sight.
MICHAEL DEAVER, FORMER REAGAN DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think it was a genuine respect from the very first. I mean...
FOREMAN: Michael Deaver, a former aide, recalls when Reagan was a governor and Thatcher a rising English conservative.
DEAVER: I remember some British guy saying to him, But -- because he was going on and on about her, really? And a woman prime minister? He smiled and he said, Well, you know, you guys didn't do too bad with Victoria. RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear.
FOREMAN: When Reagan became president and Thatcher prime minister, she was the first foreign leader to come calling.
REAGAN: Margaret ended our first meeting by telling me we must stand together, and that's exactly what we've done in the years since, as friends...
FOREMAN: Internationally, they collaborated on ending the Cold War and expanding trade. Domestically, both waged war on labor unions and reduced government intervention in business. More than just political partners, they shared ironclad beliefs.
LORD CHARLES POWELL, FORMER THATCHER ADVISER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thinking on many issues, not just the evils of communism, became very similar -- hatred of high taxes, hatred of big government, hatred of socialism in all its forms.
FOREMAN: There were clashes. Reagan disapproved of England's war in the Falkland Islands. Thatcher objected to the American invasion of Grenada.
(on camera): Over all the years, however, even as critics attacked their legacy, Reagan and Thatcher remained united.
MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: Through it all, throughout eight of the fastest-moving years in memory, you were unflappable and unyielding.
FOREMAN: Reagan asked Thatcher to speak at his funeral years ago, and she will be there. Strokes have so weakened her, she had to record her message, but she wrote firmly in a book of condolence, "To Ronnie, well done, thou good and faithful servant."
ZAHN: That report from Tom Foreman.
Roger Eliot Sandler was just doing his job when he met Governor Reagan, taking pictures as Reagan began making his move into national politics. But over the next 30 years, Sandler got to know Ron and Nancy Reagan intimately -- he's the guy on the right side of the screen there -- capturing images of them behind the scenes, as well as in public moments.
Photojournalist Roger Eliot Sandler joins me now to share his photos and his memories of President Reagan and his family with us tonight. Welcome.
ROGER ELIOT SANDLER, REAGAN PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you.
ZAHN: Let's talk about the White House years first. You had unprecedented access to this president.
ZAHN: What do you think you saw through your lens that other photographers weren't allowed to see?
SANDLER: Well, I got to know the man that many people, even staff aides who had been with him a long time -- that he was not an enigma. There was nothing that I didn't understand about Ronald Reagan and...
ZAHN: But you often hear there was this detached part of his soul that even Nancy Reagan had alluded to in an interview?
SANDLER: No, I don't think so. You know, there's a tremendous amount that you get looking at anyone through a lens and following their movements. And added to that, the one-on-one times I had the honor of spending with them as young man very, very curious about him, his life. How did he become the man that he became? How is it that he got the fortitude to his life of getting up and dusting himself off every day? What was it about him and how did he develop that philosophy, that tomorrow's another day, that next week's another week, next year is another year, no matter how hard and cruel life can be for all of us at times, that go through, do your best, things come around.
ZAHN: Some powerful life lessons for all of us to learn. We're going to look at more images now...
ZAHN: ... of some moments where the president, obviously, is in isolation of some sort.
ZAHN: How lonely do you think the job was for him?
SANDLER: Oh, not lonely at all. This is a man who relished the job because he relished the experience of people. He loved the campaign trail. He loved to speak. He loved to work with his staff. He found every day an interesting experience. This is another lesson of life.
ZAHN: Let's move back to the campaign trail because you have some really astonishing images of him during the early part of his political career. It was very easy for him to make the connection with the American public, wasn't it.
SANDLER: Yes, it was. And he was a campaigner like I had never seen before. In pictures along the campaign trail and experiences along the campaign trail, people listened. Look at that picture there. Look how quiet his audience is, all looking at him. I never had seen, in years of covering politics since 1972, audiences as respectful to a candidate and so eager to listen and hear what he had to say as campaign audiences of Ronald Reagan.
ZAHN: There's another photo I wanted to share with our audience now of then candidate George Bush...
ZAHN: ... and Ronald Reagan...
ZAHN: A lot of analysis of their relationship leading up to the president-vice presidency relationship.
ZAHN: What do you remember about this photo?
SANDLER: I remember that there was a lot of anger and resentment within the Reagan campaign for the Bush -- for then candidate Bush...
ZAHN: Is that when he referred to the economic plan as voodoo economics?
SANDLER: Yes. Yes. Furthermore, Governor Reagan himself was very disappointed that he lost the Iowa caucuses, that his then campaign director told him to stay out of Iowa the last two days of the caucuses. And then here comes George Bush to win them. I was there the next day after the caucuses, and he bawled out his staff. He took control, and he said, This is not going to happen in New Hampshire. And we ended up spending 18, 19-hour days for the rest of the campaign in New Hampshire until he won that primary.
ZAHN: Great story. I want to close with some images now of Nancy Reagan and the president -- a lot made of their very long love affair of over 50 years.
SANDLER: Yes. Look at the pride he has in his face, watching her speak. And the other story about this is that Mrs. Reagan going out now speaking on her own does not have that happiness in her face anymore that she had with her husband. And look at the interest that he has in what she has to say and the pleasure that they had with each other. It didn't matter how much time they spent in a day, it never got dull for them.
ZAHN: You could certainly see that in those photos.
SANDLER: Thank you.
ZAHN: Roger, thank you.
SANDLER: Thank you, ma'am.
ZAHN: Appreciate it, Roger Eliot Sandler.
Coming up next: clothes and the man. Even from his early days in Hollywood, no matter what he wore, Ronald Reagan seemed to wear it well. A look at the Reagan style next.
Then: His music could rock the house or soothe a troubled soul. We'll remember the incomparable Ray Charles coming up.
ZAHN: If style can be defined as a distinctive manner or fashionable appearance or grace in performance, then our 40th president was a master of cultivating it. On film sets campaigning, and even in office, Ronald Reagan had personal style in spades.
As a movie actor, Ronald Reagan was debonair in a Fedora...
REAGAN: I'll be back with more hot news. And just between you and the microphone, it'll be red hot.
ZAHN: ... dashing in uniform...
REAGAN: I guess we can't all have charm and good looks, too.
ZAHN: ... and bare-chested in this Hollywood beefcake photo. Co-stars say he oozed presence on screen.
PATRICIA NEAL, CO-STARRED WITH REAGAN: He's warm. He's friendly. He's all those things. He's not the greatest actor in the world, but he was fantastic in films.
ZAHN: As spokesman for GE, Reagan showed us how the business exec should dress at home.
REAGAN: We've never been as comfortable in our lives.
ZAHN: As candidate for governor, business suits and wide smiles, and many say that smile helped him win the race. Legislators who worked with the then governor say his style was to charm his rivals.
WILLIAM BAGLEY, FORMER CALIFORNIA LEGISLATOR: As a person, he was such a damn decent guy. He used to grab a couple of Democrats and put his arms around them and tell them jokes while we were negotiating. These guys melted!
REAGAN: I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear...
ZAHN: As president, Ronald Reagan brought glamour and elegance to the White House. After those Jimmy Carter casual sweater years, Reagan brought back sleek hair and cummerbunds. It wasn't just what he wore or how he wore it, it was that twinkle in his eye and that way he had about him, even in cowboy gear.
JIM MOORE, "GQ" MAGAZINE: He was turned out beautifully, right down to his belt buckle and the shine on his cowboy boots, and it didn't feel affected. It felt part of his personality. And I think that's why people embraced him as a stylish person.
ZAHN: Charmer, actor, president -- Ronald Reagan always looked the part. CHI MCBRIDE, ACTOR: He's very stylish, always well dressed, always a perfectly knotted Windsor tie, beautiful pocket square, beautiful -- beautifully tailored suits.
RON LIVINGSTON, ACTOR: Some people look like they dressed up. You know, I always felt like he felt natural and comfortable in what he wore.
ZAHN: Ronald Reagan, he was a natural.
And one of the people who was instrumental in helping former president Reagan look the part, his former shirtmaker, Paul Cuss. He is the chief shirtmaker at the famous British firm of Turnbull and Asser, which counts Prince Charles and a number of Hollywood celebrities among its clients. Paul Cuss joins us tonight, in the wee hours in London. Paul, thank you very much for joining us tonight, Paul.
PAUL CUSS, FORMER SHIRTMAKER PRESIDENT REAGAN: A pleasure. Thank you.
ZAHN: So you were introduced to the president through the British ambassador to Britain at the time -- or excuse me, the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain at the time. Tell us about your first meeting with the president.
CUSS: Well, the first meeting was when I had to go to the White House. And I flew from London to Washington, and I had to go and visit him on Sunday afternoon. I think he had just come back from the ranch. I arrived at the White House and then was naturally searched and checked for whatever. And then I was taken up to the private apartments, into -- I think it must have been the Oval Lounge, which is above the Oval Office, where I met the president and his wife and we sat there and we talked informally for a little while.
He was watching the golf from California because it was quite sunny and they were in half-sleeve shirts. It was very cold in Washington at the time. And we sat there talking for a little while. He offered me tea. We had tea. And I felt like I was just at home with him. You know, it was just like home to home with just one of the guys. And then we watched some golf, and then I had to pick out some materials and help him pick out materials, where Nancy Reagan helped him. And I think she put a good stamp on his choice of materials.
They were quite classic and traditional in design, and they weren't too overpowering. Turnbull and Asser is famous for its bold stripes, but he kept away from those because he thought it be better not to advertise Turnbull and Asser too much.
ZAHN: Yes, I was going to say that that could have been a pretty impolitic move if it became public that the American president was buying British shirts. Was that something he was concerned about? CUSS: He was concerned about it, and it was very hush-hush. We actually referred to him as "our friend in Washington," and we used to always put on his order papers just the initials RR. And we didn't put Turnbull and Asser labels in the back of the neck of the shirts. We just used to hand embroider his own initials in the back of the shirt, so it kept it quite discreet. It kept it quite discreet until he finished his presidency, and then it changed.
ZAHN: He never struck most of us observing him as a man who spent a lot of time worrying about how he looked, obviously taking great pride in what he wore. What did you learn about him through those choices?
CUSS: Well, I think it's a very classic type of choice that he made. He wasn't -- he wasn't going to make a statement with his shirts. I think he made his own statement with himself. He liked fine stripes in blues, et cetera, but at a distance, they would look quite plain. But he liked a white collar on his shirts because they were very complimentary. He loved double-cuffed shirts so he could wear them with links. And he was also -- the most important thing, he was very, very particular about -- he loved this very, very low- fitting collar. Where my collar would be quite high on the neck...
CUSS: ... his collar would be right down on his chest. And it was a two-piece collar with no button at the band.
ZAHN: Well, there certainly is a bunch of pictures showing his favorite choice in colors there. Paul Cuss, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate your time.
And when we come back: He rose from poverty in the South to become an American music legend. Remembering Ray Charles next.
ZAHN: You're looking at a live shot from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where a spontaneous memorial has sprung up with the news that Ray Charles died earlier today. Blues, jazz, gospel and rock-and- roll, Ray Charles could play them all. He had a rare musical talent and style, and that's why he will be sorely missed. Ray Charles died this morning of liver disease at his Beverly Hills home. And tonight, the 12-time Grammy Award winner is being remembered as a legend in the music world.
(voice-over): Ray Charles took the music that grew out of hard times and created his own uniquely American sound. Born into poverty in south Georgia, Charles lost his sight to disease at the age of 7. But it was the strength of his mother that gave Ray Charles the courage to go on.
RAY CHARLES, SINGER/SONGWRITER: She was watching me go blind. You know, she knew I was going to be without sight. But her thing was, You still got that brain. You still can think. And there are two ways to do everything. You just got to figure out which one is good for you. That was influence my mom had on me.
ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) St. Augustine School for the Blind, Charles learned how to read and write music in Braille. He also studied piano and clarinet. Charles discovered that he could compose songs in his head. He became a gifted sax player and pianist. He got an early break in Seattle, going from playing clubs on the rough side of town to starring in a local TV revue. And he hung out with another talented young musician, none other than Quincy Jones.
QUINCY JONES, PRODUCER: We used to sit and dream, as teenagers, and say, Man, we want to do this. We want to work with a symphony orchestra. We want to do movies. We want to do this. We want to play this music. And we got to do every dream that we dreamed about.
ZAHN: With his unmistakable look -- those dark glasses -- grooving at the piano with the swinging Raylettes (ph), Ray Charles was playing at Carnegie Hall and became a fixture on television. He never lost his reverence for fellow musicians. He loved doing duets with the likes of Willie Nelson and Chaka Khan (ph). But no other songs better express the essence of this American icon than "Georgia On My Mind" and" America the Beautiful."
What a sound. Ray Charles, 73. While he may be gone, his music lives on. In fact, a recently recorded duets album featuring Ray Charles and Willie Nelson, Gladys Knight and others will be released August 31.
And joining us now from New York to talk more about Ray Charles's life and the difficulties he overcame, "Rolling Stone" magazine contributing editor, Toure. Always good to see you, Toure.
TOURE, "ROLLING STONE" CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: How are you, Paula?
ZAHN: I'm fine, thanks. What do you think Ray Charles's legacy will be?
TOURE: Man, I mean, just -- just the heart and soul of the blues and what the blues is supposed to be about. I mean, Ray Charles is one of the sounds that you heard in your house growing up, along with Aretha and just that sound that everybody listened to -- Marvin Gaye. And just -- you couldn't live without a little Ray Charles, like, all of the time. And just the sound of that voice -- I mean, that is what the blues is about, isn't it?
ZAHN: Absolutely. But what did he do differently from those who came before him?
TOURE: I mean, Ray Charles was unstoppable. You could put him in the middle of a jungle, he still would have become what he became because he has that amazing voice, right? I mean, I just -- I don't even want to talk right now. I just want to listen to the voice. And then he's got this tremendous playing ability. He's funny and soulful and pathos and -- he's just a force of nature.
ZAHN: And a force of nature that seemed to build this beautiful bridge between white cultures and black.
TOURE: Yes. I mean, certainly, somebody that both sides of the divide could love. And interesting how his career musically peaked in the '50s and '60s, but then in the '80s and the '90s, he became a star all over again when first the Cosby show made a big deal out of him, had one of their greatest episodes ever featuring his song, "Nighttime Is the Right Time," then the Pepsi commercials came, and he's a star all over again with those stupid Uh-oh Girls. And a whole new generation discovered him as just the ultimate bluesy soul man with jazz in his stew and everything. He was awesome.
ZAHN: He certainly knew how to make himself relevant, didn't he?
TOURE: Yes. Absolutely.
ZAHN: Toure, thank you...
TOURE: Thank you.
ZAHN: ... for talking about this great man with us tonight. A very talented man, indeed. Toure, again, thanks.
Coming up, an inspiring shared moment in the lives of Ronald Reagan and Ray Charles.
ZAHN: President Bush and First Lady Bush paid their respects to the Reagan family today. After viewing Ronald Reagan's coffin in the Capitol rotunda this afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Bush spent some time with Nancy Reagan. She is staying in the Blair House while she's in Washington for her husband's state funeral. The Blair House is just across the street from the White House.
And we want to thank you all for being with us tonight. Tomorrow, a program note for you. Please join Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer and me for the historic state funeral for Ronald Reagan at Washington's National Cathedral. That gets underway at 10:00 AM Eastern time.
A reminder, "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. We leave you now with a tribute to two lives well lived, Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful" at Ronald Reagan's inaugural. Good night.
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