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Interview With "Growing Pains" Star Tracey Gold

Aired February 21, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, "Growing Pains" star Tracey Gold in her first interview since her felony arrest for driving drunk with her young children in the car, injuring her son and her husband. Tracey Gold speaking out for the first time since pleading guilty to driving under the influence. What went wrong? An emotional, exclusive hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE, an exclusive tonight with Tracey Gold. See, you got through the beginning.


KING: This is her first interview since being arrested the night of September 3 of last year, Tracey driving her husband, Roby, and their three sons, age 7, 5 and 4 months, home from a barbecue. She lost control of their car -- GMC Yukon. She had many charges, but has had a plea agreement, pleading guilty to one of the charges, driving under the influence. And the -- she will be sentenced on March 21, right?

GOLD: Right.


GOLD: Correct.

KING: How are you, by the way?

GOLD: Hanging in there. And I mean, probably, it's been the hardest experience of my entire life. I mean, I never, ever thought that something like this would happen, but it did.

KING: Let's go with it. Let's live it. Let's help people.


KING: You -- by the way, you look 11.


KING: How old are you?

GOLD: I'm 35.

KING: Whew!

GOLD: Yes.

KING: God did good with your genes.

GOLD: Thank you. I'll tell my parents.

KING: OK. All right. You're -- what happened?

GOLD: OK. September 3, we had gone to a barbecue. It was a Labor Day family barbecue, a lot of people from my husband's work. He's a swim coach, so a lot of coaches, his boss. We were there over in the course of five hours and had a wonderful night. It was just a great, really kind of wonderful end-of-summer barbecue. At the end of the evening, my husband had come to me and said that he had drank too much. He was the designated driver that night. He drives us whenever we go out anywhere. And he had had too much to drink.

I had known that I had two glasses of wine over a long period of time, and after some discussion and realizing that he was not the appropriate person to drive, I accepted the keys and I drove.

KING: Did you feel inebriated?

GOLD: I did not feel inebriated. I did not feel impaired.

KING: You only had two glasses of wine?

GOLD: I did. You know, I now realize in retrospect that, you know, obviously, it could not have been eight ounces in a glass of what I thought was two glasses of wine. In my head, that's what I thought I had. But obviously, I consumed more than that.

KING: Actually, you read what? What did it -- what did the...

GOLD: It was almost double.


KING: ... California allowance.

GOLD: Yes.

KING: Yes.

GOLD: It's absolutely -- I mean...

KING: So what happened? Do you remember the drive home?

GOLD: So I -- oh, yes. I mean, I -- we -- you know, I said OK, and everybody was relieved that I was driving, thinking that was a really smart decision.

KING: Everybody buckled in?

GOLD: Buckled in, got my kids in the car, got...

KING: Any kid need a booster seat, or they... GOLD: Yes, my -- well, my infant needed...

KING: Yes.

GOLD: Yes, needed a car seat, absolutely. We drove. We got onto -- I had never really been out in that area before. It's Thousand Oaks, Moorpark. And you know, it was -- we were at a home that night. And I remember that all of a sudden, as I was steering and getting onto another freeway, the car felt like I couldn't control it. And it was -- it was absolutely the most horrifying experience. And I did everything I could. I had never felt that before, that the car didn't feel like I could control it, to gather -- to get control of the car. Before I knew it, we were -- we had rolled over. We had -- into, like, off the freeway.

KING: An embankment, like?

GOLD: Yes, exactly, and...

KING: You missed the turn?

GOLD: No, I didn't miss the turn. No. I mean, it really felt like it came out of nowhere. My husband was, like...

KING: So what happened?

GOLD: I don't know.

KING: What do you think happened?

GOLD: To the best of my ability of understanding what happened -- because I've -- I mean, you -- after that night, I mean, I went over this in my head a billion times. And I think that there was probably something wrong with the car that evening. There was an axle -- we had had an axle replaced the week before. And there is evidence that there was something wrong. But it became very obvious to me that -- obviously, you know, I have my -- my wonderful defense team, you know, Blair Burke (ph) and Chuck Simosky (ph) and John Jangston, (ph) that that -- you know, that there was something wrong. But in my heart, I knew that by getting behind the wheel of the car and having had something to drink, that really, the responsibility laid on my shoulders. And...

KING: Who tested you? The police did? Did they test...


KING: ... you right there?

GOLD: Yes.

KING: OK. You were not hurt.

GOLD: No, I was not hurt.

KING: Your husband... GOLD: Was hurt, yes.

KING: How badly?

GOLD: He had fractures in his neck.

KING: And one of the children.

GOLD: He had a hairline fracture in his collarbone. My -- my -- my oldest son, yes.

KING: Did they go to the hospital?

GOLD: What happened was, is we all went to the hospital. I was fortunate enough that the police let me go over to the hospital. They checked me out, obviously, and let me see my children. And my -- they treated my kids, and my kids were released. They -- they went home that night.

KING: The shoulder one, too?

GOLD: Yes. He went home that night. And then my husband stayed the weekend. To say that it felt like the most horrible, horrifying experience is just an understatement that...

KING: Are you a drinker?

GOLD: No! I mean, I'm not. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, that's -- it's -- I mean, I have an occasional glass of wine if I'm at a party, if I'm out at dinner with my husband. I'm not a big drinker. I -- it's the weirdest thing...

KING: Have you been drunk?

GOLD: Have I ever...


GOLD: ... been drunk in my life?

KING: I'm asking that so that you can equate with the feelings you had that night.

GOLD: I'm sure once or twice. Sure. Absolutely.

KING: So you know what it's like to be...

GOLD: Yes.

KING: ... inebriated.

GOLD: Yes, but I've never been...

KING: You didn't feel it...

GOLD: I've never been... KING: ... that night, though.

GOLD: Yes. No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. I felt fine. I felt absolutely fine. I never, ever, if I felt inebriated, would have driven.

KING: Since you might have been able to plea on the car, why didn't you? In other words, why didn't you try to have an excuse?

GOLD: Because for me, what it felt like was, it felt like, in my heart -- this whole thing was so horrifying to me that I needed to somehow make it right, that I could live with myself, that I could feel like I could reconcile this in my brain. And it was so hard to even be in my skin after that accident. And to try and excuse it by saying that there was something wrong with the car or that I wasn't the designated driver that night or that, you know, I felt fine -- the truth is, ultimately, I chose -- I drove. I took those keys and I drove. And the guilt that I have about that, by trying to prolong the legal process by, you know, trying to, you know, investigate cars and saying that I didn't do this and I did that -- you know, I feel like I do have responsibility for the fact of getting behind the wheel of a car after having had something to drink.

KING: And I understand you've been going out to groups and talking about this.

GOLD: Yes, I have.

KING: Is that of your own volition, or did the judge ask you to...

GOLD: No, no, no. I want to. Nobody ordered me to or anything. See, I've been through things in my life. I had a very public battle with anorexia. You know, I unwittingly became sort of this anorexia spokeswoman. And you know, at the time, when it became so public, I never, ever could have imagined that, you know, I would have been grateful that I had gone through the anorexia and could then help many young girls. When this experience happened, I couldn't -- I couldn't grasp how I -- me -- that I could have done this. And the only way I know how to get through an experience is by maybe trying to feel that I could help other people by what I went through.

KING: Why have you decided tonight to go on television?

GOLD: Because I've been wanting to talk about this for a really, really long time. You know, in my whole experience with the anorexia, one thing I really found about myself was that my voice is really powerful and it was a really -- the things I said and people listened, but when the accident happened, I couldn't speak because you have to be respectful of the legal process. But because I've pled guilty, I now have the opportunity that I can talk. And when I say what happened, I never want to excuse it, I merely want to explain it.

KING: We'll continue in a minute.

GOLD: OK. KING: We'll be right back with Tracey Gold on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you drinking?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When "Growing Pains" confronts drunk driving, the laughs take a back seat. Teen actress Tracey Gold believes tackling such issues in a TV comedy is a good idea.

GOLD: I think we can do that because if you do it once in a while, it's OK. If you don't do it, you're taking advantage of the opportunities that you're been given.


KING: How does it feel to look at that?

GOLD: You know, it's so weird because it was just -- I was speaking the other day at a college, and it really was the first time that it dawned on me I remembered about that episode, that we had done a public service show on drunk driving. And Matthew Perry from "Friends" was in it, and it was a really important show. And I had been so -- I've been so in my moment about my life, and I had never -- I had forgotten that we had done a show about that. So to see that you have it, it's, like, wow.

KING: So are you now saying when you speak, If you drink, just don't drive? If you have one glass of wine, forget it, don't drive a car?

GOLD: I -- I...

KING: What are you saying? Since you didn't feel inebriated.

GOLD: My belief...

KING: There's nothing worse...

GOLD: I will never -- I will never have a drink and get behind the wheel of a car. I know that because I -- it's a weird thing. It's not illegal to drink and drive, but there becomes a certain point where it does become a crime and it becomes illegal.

KING: How do you know the point?

GOLD: That's the question, is that you're not -- you don't have the judgment after you've had the drink, I believe, to make that judgment call, such a -- you know, a life-and-death kind of situation. You know, if something truly catastrophic had happened that evening, I don't know how I could have lived with myself, and I feel like I've gotten a second chance. And I don't believe that things happen in vain. I believe that they happen for a reason, and I believe that this happened to me and to my family for a reason.

KING: What was your husband's reaction?

GOLD: My husband...

KING: He broke his neck?

GOLD: He has, fractures, yes. His reaction was, I think, at first, that he felt a lot of -- like he had let us down as a family because he was the designated driver that evening, and that he sort of knows that, you know, whenever we're together, that I was not the driver. And so I was obviously put in a bad situation, but...

KING: Why were you never the driver, by the way, if you don't drink?

GOLD: Why...

KING: Why couldn't you be the...

GOLD: I don't like to drive.


GOLD: I just don't like to drive. I mean, you know, I'm not a bad driver, I just don't like to drive, even -- you know, I mean, I've been with my husband since I was 20 years old, and probably, I can count the times that we've been in a car and I've driven a few times. That's it.

KING: So he feels some guilt himself.

GOLD: Yes, of course. And you know, so it's -- but the -- he and I, what we've come -- obviously, the two of us made bad choices that evening and...

KING: His to drink too much...

GOLD: Yes.

KING: ... and yours to drive.

GOLD: Absolutely. And mine to accept, you know, the keys. Absolutely. You know...

KING: Was he angry at you?

GOLD: No. No. I mean, I think that he knew that it was a -- you know, we were at a barbecue that, you know, was the -- it was not -- you know, he knew how much -- that I had had two glasses of wine. I had said that to him when -- you know, when we talked about driving, but I felt fine, you know, but I was, like...

KING: What was it like to visit him in the hospital?

GOLD: It was -- it was -- I mean, that whole time was devastating, to visit him in the hospital. I think the hardest thing for me at that time really personally was just being a mother, you know, and knowing that I had put my children in jeopardy. And that's just something that is so hard to wrap my brain around. And you know, I always said that if I -- you know, when I die, if they say one thing about me ever is that I want, like, to be known as, like, just this great mother. And I had made this horrible, horrible, horrible decision that had probably almost cost my -- you know, my family their lives.

KING: What did you say to the kids?

GOLD: When it first initially happened, the -- my oldest -- my 5-year-old didn't -- you know, didn't really understand. My older one sort of understood a bit. And I said to him that -- you know, I was very honest with him in the sense of not letting him know, you know, detail for detail what happened. But he also knows that -- you know, that that evening, that my husband had driven and stuff and that I drove home, and it was sort of a change in plans. He was sort of - he knew that. And I said to him that Mommy had made a very, very bad mistake, and I had had a couple glasses of wine and I drove, and I never should have. And I know that, and it's -- and I got in trouble for it.

KING: How are they now?

GOLD: You know what my husband and I have tried to do is we've tried to really make their lives continue forward. I am, obviously, emotionally, internally just so knee-deep in this, not even legally, like, just really, like, about how I'm getting through this. But I don't want, you know, their lives to be disrupted any more than it already was. For them, the accident feels like a long time ago. If it comes up once in a while, they'll be, like, Well, why are you talking about the accident? It happened so long ago. And I sort of want that to be their reality right now, is that life is going ahead and not to disrupt it any more than it already was disrupted. But I hope that when they become adults and they become of the age where they're going to be faced with pressures and stuff like that, that you know they will be, that they will learn from my mistake and they will know, and I will tell them every full detail.

KING: Is everybody fully OK?

GOLD: Yes, everybody's OK.

KING: Physically.

GOLD: Yes, everyone's physically great.

KING: Mentally, you think they're OK, too?

GOLD: Yes. I mean, I think that our family, you know, has gone through a very, very difficult time. I think my husband and I have taken, you know, emotionally, the brunt of it, just of trying to get through this. It's -- if there ever was -- I mean, I've never known what it truly felt like to be just so -- so sad and desperate inside.

KING: What was it like to go home and see yourself in a mug shot?

GOLD: It's surreal, absolutely surreal. It was like -- I remember that they took the picture, and I remember...

KING: There it is.

GOLD: Yes. They put a wristband on you, and you -- so you can see it. And I didn't look at it, but I knew it was going to be everywhere. And it's still hard to see it. It's surreal. It doesn't feel like me.

KING: They do it right there that night?

GOLD: Yes, that was that night.

GOLD: As you were being booked.

GOLD: Yes. Yes. Yes. And it doesn't feel like me, but it is me. And it's something that -- you know, it's, like, when something like this happens, you want to go back and you want to say I wish I had done this. I wish I had done that. I wish -- if I only had -- and you can't go back. That's the scariest thing about something like this. You can't go back. Time only keeps moving forward. So you...

KING: If only.

GOLD: If only. I can only, at this moment, look at that and just know that I can only go forward and try and make something OK about this.

KING: They give you bail right away? Did you post bail?

GOLD: Yes, in the -- yes.

KING: Did you have to spend any time in jail?

GOLD: I spent the night in jail, yes.

KING: I'll ask about that in a minute. My guest is Tracey Gold. Don't drink and drive. We'll be right back.


GOLD: My little boy had a fractured collarbone, and my husband had fractures in his neck. You know, it was just a devastating thing to know that my baby was hurt because of my choice.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Tracey Gold. What was it like to spend the night in jail?

GOLD: It felt like a dream, a nightmare. I mean, it felt like -- it was horrifying. I think the scariest thing, though, was not -- it was the fact that -- the reality of what had happened, just sitting alone with your own thoughts and having...

KING: No one was with you? No other people in the cell?

GOLD: No. No.

KING: Did you know the condition of your husband and child?

GOLD: No. I had a feeling when I left the hospital -- I knew that...

KING: They let you go to the hospital, and then they booked you?

GOLD: Yes. I knew my children -- you know, I could see that -- I was talking to them and everything. So you know, I only had a sense of things. And then I had asked somebody, like, one of the bailiffs or something there, like, you know, Could you please tell me? And they came back and said they were OK.

KING: At that point, were you blaming yourself or the car?

GOLD: At that point, I couldn't understand what happened. I just -- I couldn't -- I couldn't figure it out. I kept going over it in my mind, and I just kept saying, How did the car lose control? I mean, from the moment the accident happened, I kind of -- that was one thing that was, like -- it just -- it felt like the car lost control, is the only way I can explain it. And I -- and I know -- you know, and I didn't feel like I was impaired or anything like that. I obviously know now that -- I mean, I whole-heartedly know I never, ever should have been driving that night, and it was a horrible, horrible, horrible decision.

KING: You're doing no cop-out here.

GOLD: No. You know what? I mean, the truth is, the only way I can accept this or live with this is just to accept it and to take responsibility and to own it, you know?

KING: And go on.

GOLD: And move on, absolutely.

KING: Are you acting?

GOLD: Well, at this second -- at this second, I'm not acting, but I am acting. I mean, I had just done a movie last year, but you know, at this kind of...

KING: You're on hold now. GOLD: Yes, I'm just -- well, at this -- you know, just getting through these first few months and everything have really been about dealing with the family and just dealing with my emotional...

KING: What about reaction to the tabloids, who ran all over this?

GOLD: Yes. Well, I've experienced...

KING: Television and print.

GOLD: I've experienced the tabloids when I had anorexia. And I think any actor will tell you, anybody in the public eye, that the tabloids are the worst kind of ramification of being a celebrity. I mean, it's just the worst. I knew what was going to happen. I expected it, and I prepared myself. But you know, you can never prepare yourself enough to see your mug shot and, you know, DUI and DUI. And you know, it's something that I -- it just -- it's hard, you know?

KING: Your husband understand it?

GOLD: Well, I've been, you know, dating my husband my since I was 20 years old, and so he's been with me, you know, through, you know, a lot of, like, you know -- a lot of stuff.

KING: Thick and thin.

GOLD: Yes. Exactly. And this -- yes. I mean, he -- he and I really went through this as -- you know, I think he probably, you know, a million times apologized to me for putting me in that position in the first place.

KING: Did you hear from people in the industry or, like, support from "Growing Pains" people?

GOLD: Yes. Absolutely. Well, the interesting thing was, we were doing publicity for the "Growing Pains" movie a month after the accident, so...

KING: There was a "Growing Pains" movie?

GOLD: Yes, we did a reunion movie when I was, like, nine months pregnant with my baby.

KING: When is that going to air?

GOLD: It aired.


GOLD: It aired in October. And so we did a lot of publicity, so we had a -- a kind of an opportunity, at that point, to then be together, and I got support from them. And they're amazing. They know me. I mean, anybody who knows me, you know, when this happened, it was, like, You're the last person we would ever expect this to happen to. And I really am. And it sounds -- you know, I'm the most cynical person, and I know what that sounds like when you say, you know, I don't drink and drive, and I don't. But I know that people look at that with skepticism, and I understand that.

But I think to really clearly send out my message is to say that I am you. I am the person who is a mother against drunk driver. I don't drink and drive. I don't do those things, but I did it that night.

KING: Do you think you were hurt by the fact that -- having previously been anorexic coming forward, usually people think if people have one problem...

GOLD: Yes.

KING: ... it's going to switch to another problem. So the assumption is you're an alcoholic.

GOLD: You know what's interesting, is that I -- I saw that a little bit. In one magazine in particular, there was sort of a speculation about that. And I -- and I kind of felt, you know, that -- I feel at this moment that any, you know, speculation, anything that happen (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm so -- I felt so bad about all of this that I was, just, like -- I'm, like, OK, bring it on. It's OK. I can handle it. But I feel a little bit sad that just because I spoke about anorexia and have been so honest about it that now there's a leap to judgment about something else, which isn't true, so...

KING: Like two strikes.

GOLD: Yes. But you know what? But I think that, you know, that given the opportunity to -- you know, to talk about it like I did with the anorexia and really share what happened -- you know, I think people can much more readily accept, Oh, you got a DUI. There must be something wrong because then that makes it that's not them. But when it happens to somebody who could be like them, it makes it much scarier to look at.

KING: Now, your attorneys -- there were more charges. Your attorneys worked it down to one, right?

GOLD: Right. Yes.

KING: And they plea bargained this.

GOLD: Yes.

KING: Were the prosecutors fair with you?

GOLD: Yes, the prosecutors were very fair with me. Ventura County has been very fair with me. You know...

KING: So have you met the judge already? Have you pled guilty in front of him?

GOLD: Yes, I pled guilty in front of him. KING: And so sentencing is March 21.

GOLD: Yes.

KING: What do you expect?

GOLD: I don't know what to expect. I mean, I know that I -- I know there's -- you know, they promised a probation, you know, sentence.

KING: Who promised it?

GOLD: The judge and -- and the prosecution.

KING: So you know you're going to get probation.

GOLD: Yes. Yes, but you know, they're all...

KING: So you're not going to...


GOLD: ... terms of that. You know, they can -- they can decide all terms of what they want in that, you know? But I...

KING: You don't think you're going to go to jail, then.

GOLD: I don't know. I don't know, you know? I don't know what's going to happen. I have faith in the justice system, and what will happen will happen. And I -- at this moment, I'm just trying to do the right thing.

KING: So if there is probation, there'll be conditions.

GOLD: Of course.

KING: You'll have to do certain things. You'll have to...

GOLD: I'll lose my license.

KING: ... report to a probation officer. You'll have to report...

GOLD: Yes, the whole thing. Absolutely.

KING: You're ready for all that.

GOLD: I am. I am. Because the truth is that that night, what could have happened -- you know, you think about...

KING: What could have happened.

GOLD: ... what could have happened. And all these things that I'm having to go through right now, I can handle it.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tracey Gold on this exclusive appearance tonight. Don't go away.


GOLD: When I was 19 years old, I came down with anorexia. I had it for about a year before it became public. And it had a lot to do with my self-esteem at the time, changes in my life that were happening. I had fallen in love for the first time. "Growing Pains" was coming to an end. I had just graduated high school the year before. So I was faced with the reality of growing up and life changing, and I sort of freaked out. And my defense mechanism at that time was the anorexia.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After seven years on "Growing Pains," actor Tracey Gold revealed details of her struggle.

GOLD: I took a year off after "Growing Pains" ended -- just to kind of get -- try to get my health back. It was something that -- that I battled to the state (ph), the battle I think I'm winning.


KING: We're back with Tracey Gold, and we've checked with Blair. And what the agreement is that you could get jail time.

GOLD: Absolutely.

KING: You can't get prison time.

GOLD: Right.

KING: You're not going to San Quentin, right.

GOLD: No, no, no. Right.

KING: The judge could have -- his conditions of the probation sentence you three to six months in a local jail.

GOLD: Yes. He could.

KING: You're ready to accept that if it happens. You rather not.

GOLD: I don't have a choice, yes.

KING: But you have agreed.

GOLD: I have.

KING: Are you nervous about March 21. GOLD: Of course. Of course, I am. I also am -- I try and -- I try and look at it like, OK, at least then they'll be -- we'll know what's going to happen.

KING: It will be closure.

GOLD: It will be closure. It will be like, you know -- it will be closure.

KING: What do you get from teenagers when you talk to them?

What kind of reception do you get?

GOLD: I get an amazing reception. You know, I've gone around the country and I've always talked about anorexia, so I always feel like I've reached young women. And now I'm sort of going around and speaking and I'm talking about, you know, my experience and the DUI. And I feel a lot -- you know, I'm getting now -- I'm getting young men and teenage boys and also girls.

KING: So, what are you saying to them?

GOLD: I'm saying to them, that your life can change on a flip of a coin. That the choices and decisions you make are crucial. And we feel, you know, that, you know, that somehow we're -- we're safe. But I have experienced in that night that things can change in a flash. And it's just so scary. And that drinking and driving in particular -- I just in my heart, I just -- it's -- they just don't go hand in hand. They just don't.

KING: You consider yourself a member of MADD? You're going to join MADD?

GOLD: You know, I want to. Yes, it's interesting. After the crash happened, I remember I was so humiliated and just so embarrassed. And I just kept thinking, if they just -- and I thought of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, I'm like oh my god, they must hate me. And just think I'm like this horrible person. And now I have just -- I have to stop, but you know what -- my husband helped me with this, actually. He said to me, but Tracey, you are a mother against drunk drivers, and I am. And I thought maybe I can help them with their cause. Because I think people always have a perception, that when you get a DUI and you drive drunk, that you have to feel like you're falling down drunk and that's what -- or that you're a chronic drinker and this was bound to happen. That that's what people always associate with people who get a DUI. And I think the message should be broader to people who, you know, I go out now and I look at people in restaurants and, you know, it's common practice. They're having something to drink, they get in a car and they drive. And I know look, I -- oh, my god, that's an accident waiting to happen.

KING: I know, I've seen restaurants take keys away...

GOLD: Have you?

KING: If they're obviously inebriated. You know, I mean, that's different. Would you change the law? Would you say one -- I mean...

GOLD: I mean, I -- I don't know. But I think something needs to be done, because I think that it's -- living through what I've lived through, that it feels like there's no way that you can make a clear decision after you've had a drink as to whether or not you can drive. I don't know what -- I don't know what the rules or laws should be. I really don't.

KING: Sometimes Mothers Against Drunk Driving go to court on the day of jury trials and sentencing and hold up signs. They've been stopped from doing that. They say it sometimes prejudices people against the defendant. Would you ever do that? Would you go to court?


KING: No. Do you fear them coming to court on your day, you're a celebrity. MADD shows up. Give her jail time.

GOLD: No, I don't

KING: They've done that.

GOLD: I don't, because I think that -- I have belief that people know that -- that...

KING: You're sincere.

GOLD: That I'm sincere. I'm a -- I'm a responsible -- you know, the lesson is, I'm a responsible person. I make good decisions every day of my life. I second guess my decisions. I go over them. I am responsible to a fault. That evening, I made a horrible decision, and it's just to show you that one -- one decision can change your life. And it's...

KING: So you support all the principles of MADD.

GOLD: Yes. I mean, I support -- I support the fact that I -- I am a mother, and I believe that you should not drink and drive.

KING: Drunk driving is a -- it's a horrific thing...

GOLD: It's, yes...

KING: ... for someone to get in the car.

GOLD: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: You're endangering...

GOLD: Absolutely. And to make clear, though, is that -- and I think this is the sort of the -- the pitfall that people fall into, is that truthfully I did not feel drunk that evening. And that's the scary thing. And that's the scary thing. Because if I had felt drunk or thought I was impaired, I probably would have said no. You know what, I would have refused to drive. KING: Tracey Gold is our guest. Sentencing is March 21. She mentioned anorexia, we'll ask a little about that and some more things, right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Merry Christmas, everyone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is serious. I've seen it before. She's a very sick girl.


KING: That was a movie you did about anorexia.

GOLD: Yeah, "For the Love of Nancy."

KING: Were you over the problem then?

GOLD: I was in recovery at that time, but had a ways to go, as you can see. I mean, I was on my way to recovery, but I still was in the process of -- that's not me, by the way. That shot they just showed, that's a body double.

KING: What's the difference between anorexia and bulimia?

GOLD: Anorexia, you starve yourself. Bulimia, you binge and purge.

KING: You eat and throw up.

GOLD: Yeah, but you eat huge amounts of food, like until you're sick and then you throw up. And anorexia, you just deny yourself and you restrict. And it's all about control.

KING: And both can kill you.

GOLD: Absolutely, 100 percent, yes.

KING: Do you know why you were anorexic?

GOLD: I do. I do. I had years of therapy in order to recover from this. And a lot of it had to with being a people pleaser, not having -- you know, sort of being the ultimate good girl, a person who wanted -- you know, I wanted everyone to like me. I didn't really have a voice. I was afraid of growing up. I'm afraid of -- I was insecure. You know, and it's weird how life comes full circle, because so much of, you know, trying my need in life to always trying to be the person who takes care of other people, and sometimes like I forget about taking care of myself. Even in that night of the car accident, you know, if there was any lesson that I should have really have learned that night, was that I should have listened to my own inner voice, and that I should have -- not have been so easy to try and just take care of it by driving, you know, of trying to help my husband.

KING: You relate that back to being anorexic?

GOLD: I do. I do. It's my need to sort of take care of things.

KING: How slim were you?

GOLD: I got really, really, really, really thin. I mean...

KING: How thin?

GOLD: Well, I don't mention numbers. And you know, this is part of my platform.

KING: Karen Carpenter, who died, was anorexic and died, was I think 87 pounds, and thought she was fat when she died.

GOLD: You know what's interesting...

KING: Did you think you were fat?

GOLD: I didn't think I was fat. I just thought that I was fine, that I didn't need to lose any -- I didn't need to gain any weight. And you know, but then, what started to happen was that I would drop weight and then I would like be comfortable with that number. Then I would lose more weight and that would become my new number of what I would be, and I find that, you know, our society is so consumed with numbers and what a number reads on a scale. And young girls watching this program or anything else would hear a number that I would say what my low was or what my high was when I started the diet, and that would become something they would become fixated on. So I've made it -- really made it a kind of a practice of not mentioning my -- my...

KING: OK, how could you not eat?

GOLD: It was all about just discipline and control for me. I was starving.

KING: How did you live?

GOLD: I was barely functioning. I obviously, you know, I mean, obviously...

KING: Did you finally get so sick that you...

GOLD: Yeah, I obviously, what happened was is that my body started to do shut down. I got really, really ill. My body -- I was -- you know, when you're starving yourself, you can't concentrate. I was like a walking zombie, like the walking dead. I was just consumed with what I would eat, what I wouldn't eat. And I really was just sort of existing in life and not living life. And you can't -- you can't think -- you can't enjoy life if you're not nourishing your body. And I got very ill, and then they put me in the hospital. And I was there for a little while, and then I really took a year off of doing anything, acting, anything, and recovered with a doctor over at UCLA hospital.

KING: Do you ever feel like not eating again?

GOLD: You know, it's interesting, because I always say, and when I talked about my eating disorder, the best way -- the way I recovered is when I became a mother. I really was. It was all of a sudden I became pregnant and I became a mother. And anorexia is such a self- consuming, selfish disease. It's all about you. It's all about a number on a scale. Becoming a mother, all of a sudden it wasn't about me anymore. Here I had given birth to this beautiful baby, and he didn't ask to have a mother who was sick with anorexia. So I had to make a really conscious decision that, you know what, I'll never go back there again.

And after the car accident for the first time in my life, I really remember that it was like -- it was the first time I had felt not hungry, like I couldn't eat. And when I was sick with anorexia, I was always hungry. I was consumed. I always wanted to eat, but I didn't, you just -- you didn't eat. But after the accident, I felt so just depleted and couldn't eat and felt like anything that I would eat was, like, why should I eat? Look what I did.

And I had a really conscious thought that I wasn't going to compound what already was a really horrific situation with me getting sick. And so all I need to do in order to stay healthy is to look at my three boys.

KING: Do you know you got an enormous break in nobody getting seriously hurt?

GOLD: Yes, I do.

KING: That was just a break.

GOLD: Oh, I -- I completely -- I am blessed.

KING: Because you'd have been gone if somebody had passed, if you'd lost somebody.

GOLD: I don't -- I don't even know, it's...

KING: You have to think about it...

GOLD: I do. I have.

KING: What if.

GOLD: I have. And it's not anything that I think I could have lived with. So I'm just extremely, extremely fortunate at this moment to have my family. But I will learn something from this, and hopefully can try and change it.

KING: When we come back, in our remaining moments, we'll find out what's next for Tracey. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOLD: I got very, very ill while I was doing "Growing Pains," and I ended up at the last season of the show in a hospital for anorexia. Basically, the exterior was that I had lost a lot of weight, and everybody was worried that I was too thin. The interior was that at that time, I was highly insecure. I had originally gone on a diet to lose 20 pounds, and had -- it had spiralled out of control, and I had just lost so much weight that it became almost like an addiction, in the sense that I couldn't stop losing weight.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe we can walk to school together sometimes?

GOLD: Well, I usually ride the bus, or my brother takes me. We could do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this has been a pretty good first day at my new school. I sound like James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause."

GOLD: When he met Natalie Wood.


GOLD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she wasn't as nice to him as you've been to me.

GOLD: Oh, how could she be? I mean, she was going steady with Buzz. At that point in the movie, she had no idea that James Dean was fated to be her soul mate, her -- boy, was Natalie a dunce.


KING: Did you see that Brad Pitt was going to be a star? Did you say to yourself at the end of the show, this kid has got it?

GOLD: You know, we had a lot of like people who went on to big things on "Growing Pains." Brad Pitt, Hilary Swank, Leonardo DiCaprio.

KING: No kidding?

GOLD: So yeah, it was a breeding ground for just like success.

KING: How old were you when you started on that show?

GOLD: I was 16.

KING: A lot of say that a lot of problems with being a child star. True?

GOLD: You know...

KING: It's an unreal world.

GOLD: Yeah, it is. You're not living a real childhood. I was fortunate. I had wonderful parents, and I think I was given the best opportunities for being a child actress, but you know, people ask me would I let my children be a child actress or actor? No. Because I think there is a trade-off. I think you really do -- you trade off what kids are supposed to do, and they're just supposed to, you know, be kids and go to school and make friends and have that kind of a life.

KING: Assuming everything goes well, let's say, and you get through your probation and you fulfill all your needs, are you going to go back and act?

GOLD: Absolutely, absolutely.

KING: Now, what kind of roles do you get when you're 35 and you look 18? Really, what kind of...

GOLD: It's a little weird.

KING: You don't get middle-aged women.

GOLD: No. And I've been around for a long time, so people kind of like have this idea of like how old I am, but then they kind of meet me and oh, you don't really look like you're a mom of -- you know, you're 35. And probably I think I could play, like, you know, late 20s, something like that. You know. But I'll always have a baby face. I think it's just sort of mine...

KING: Would you do "Desperate Housewives"?

GOLD: Yeah, in a heartbeat. Absolutely.

KING: Do you miss acting?

GOLD: I love acting. I absolutely do. But I love being a mother. And I love both. And I think that, you know, in order to be a full mother and a full person, you have to do what you love, and that's acting. But I kind of like doing both. I like the best of both worlds.

KING: By the way, what do you make of what's happened to the guy who played your brother, Kirk Cameron. He became a minister, right?

GOLD: He's very heavily into religion. You know, he was -- he had gotten into religion when we did the show.

KING: Oh, yeah?

GOLD: Yeah. It had become a very, you know, very important to him, and sort of a life-changing experience for him. KING: Were you close?

GOLD: Yeah, we were very good friends. And then he sort of went through that, and I think he sort of, you know, went through his own self-discovery, and as he's, you know, as he's gotten older, he's now -- he's the father of six children, and he's married Chelsea Noble right there. And he's doing good for himself.

KING: Is religion strong in your life?

GOLD: I'm not a religious person. I'm Catholic, so I am -- I'm, you know, I'm not -- I consider myself more of a spiritual person. You know, my children are baptized. I got married in a church. But I don't go to church every Sunday, but I believe in God, and I believe that there's, you know, a reason for things and a higher being and all of that.

KING: You have not driven since the -- did they take your license away?

GOLD: No, my license will be taken away in March.

KING: You still have it?

GOLD: I still have a restricted driver's license, yes.

KING: Have you driven?

GOLD: Yeah, it took a while before I could get behind the wheel of a car again. But you know, you live in Los Angeles. And you have responsibilities.

KING: What was your first drive after?

GOLD: My brother-in-law, Chris, my husband's brother, got me behind a wheel of the car and it's like, you've got to do this or else you're going to like -- you're never going to be able to drive again, because I was so scared of it and I was so traumatized. He was like, just go a slow distance and...

KING: Where did you go?

GOLD: Just in a parking lot, like literally.

KING: Have you had a drink since then?


KING: Will you have wine again?

GOLD: Yeah, I mean, I don't -- yeah, I mean, I will in the future. At a celebration, at a -- you know. I'll never drink and drive again. Drinking was never the issue for me, you know? It's weird. It's a weird place to be in right now, because drinking is not a problem for me.

KING: Most DUIs are alcoholic.

GOLD: I know that, but I got a DUI. The circumstances surrounding that evening I think were -- and I hope, you know, in explaining it kind of explains what happened that evening. I mean, it's -- and I know that. And I know that most people, they hear a DUI, and they're like, oh, she must have a drinking problem. And I understand that. But I know the truth. People who know me know the truth.

KING: Do you ever have a meal put in front of you and you say I don't want to eat?

GOLD: If I don't like it, but I've got a pretty good appetite right now.

KING: So you never have those feelings again? Trace?

GOLD: No, I don't think I do. I think I -- I think if I get those feelings, like I don't want to -- you know, eat, I have a voice inside me -- and I don't mean like voices in my head, I mean, like, I have a voice that really says to me, Tracey, you've got to eat. And I have the tools now, through therapy, that I've had over the years of therapy to kind of work through any kind of moments of, like, OK, I don't want to eat, I'm having a bad time.

And trust me, this experience right here, this has been the ultimate test. And I believe if I could get through this experience and not fall back into the anorexia, that I've beaten the anorexia.

KING: Are you still in therapy?

GOLD: No. No. I did the therapy for -- I'm sort of a believer that you could -- you can stay in therapy your whole life, but you've got to live life and not talk about life.

KING: Do you want anymore children?

GOLD: Yeah, I would like one more. Yeah, I like a nice, even number. I love being a mother. And I think that's the hardest thing in all of this. You know, people can say whatever they want about me, because I know me and I know who I am. But the blow it took to me as a mother -- and I will spend every day of my life making it up to them and showing them that I am the mother that I know I am and I want to be.

KING: You did well tonight.

GOLD: Thank you so much for having me here. I really appreciate it.

KING: You're terrific.

GOLD: Thank you.

KING: Tracey Gold. Couple of notes before we leave you. A wonderful movie star, Sandra Dee, died yesterday of kidney disease and pneumonia. She was only in her early '60s. There she is with her late husband, Bobby Darin. She starred as Tammy in "Gidget." Her name was a household name. Bobby was one of my favorite people, and, boy, did he love her.

We also lost Hunter Thompson and John Raitt. Three in one day.

On Wednesday night, we're going to pay tribute to Sandra Dee on this program. We'll look back at her life and career with the help of her friends and former co-stars. That's this Wednesday night.

Tomorrow night, Dana Reeve will be here, the widow of Chris Reeve.

We thank Tracey Gold for being with us tonight. The sentencing is March 21st. We wish her only the best.

Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. See you tomorrow night with Dana Reeve. Good night.


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