Richard Gere Didn’t Like ‘Sex Symbol’; Barbra Streisand ‘Too Polite’ – Veteran Chat Show Host Remembers

Richard Gere threatened to bring his lawyers down on a British TV chat show unless they removed the words “sex symbol” from his introduction.

Veteran British TV chat show host Michael Aspel was this weekend recalling some his encounters with Hollywood luminaries, including the An Officer and a Gentleman star who came onto his primetime show in the UK in 1989.

Aspel recalled to the Daily Mail:

“When Richard Gere came on the show, I introduced him and at the end I said, and ‘he’s done this, he’s done that,’ and I used the phrase ‘sex symbol.’

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“After the interview, we had a phone call from his agent saying if I didn’t remove the sex symbol thing, they were going to take it up with their lawyer. 

“He would not be known as a sex symbol. It was very odd. But he took himself very seriously, because he did a lot of stuff for the people of Tibet.”

Aspel’s other A-list guests on Aspel and Company, which ran from 1984 to 1993, included Elizabeth Taylor – the only woman Aspel had ever written a fan letter to as a young man, he admitted. And it seems, that when she came on his show in 1998, she did not disappoint.

“She was absolutely perfect, and at the end of the interview, which was very honest, funny and quite bawdy, as we were having our photographs taken, she said: ‘Is there any lipstick on my teeth?’

“And I thought the interview had gone very well and I could be cheeky, so I said: ‘No, but I wouldn’t mind some on mine.’ She just smiled and we went for a drink with everybody. 

“As I was chatting with someone else, I noticed she came by my side and she was glossing up with lipstick. Then she took my face between her hands and gave me this tremendous kiss and it was magenta all across my cheek.”

Aspel also recalled interviewing Barbra Streisand – “She was very polite and pleasant. In fact, it was that politeness that stopped us from having a really good conversation. She was very nice, but it felt as though it was something you could have done over the phone” – and Jack Nicholson, whose famous grin Aspel tried to emulate in their photograph together afterwards – “And then I saw the picture afterwards and he was doing his famous grin and I just looked slightly depressed.”

Aspel added that he believes he was one of the last people to interview Bing Crosby, who died a few days after their interview in 1977: “Sadly, I might have been the last person to interview Bing, because he died on the golf course, within a couple of days of our interview. He was charming.” 

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