Icon to IconBy Devin Owens Posted: Mar 7, 2011
Soap legend Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) talks about her recent appearance on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW and meeting the larger-than-life hostess (Tongue-tied? Mrs. Chancellor?!).How did this come about? "They contacted me. Since there were going to be actors from ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL on, it was an ABC thing all the way but it turns out that Katherine is one of Oprah's favorite characters. It was marvelous that she was honoring the genre and I was thrilled to be invited."
Were you already an Oprah fan before this? "Oh, yes. She has changed social attitudes and has helped keep the middle class alive. Anybody will tell you that years ago, I was saying that the middle class was being snuffed out. Oprah has such a vast influence and has changed certain behaviors in this country. She is a giant and has woven herself into the fabric of this country. She has used her fame better than anyone I know."
Did you go to Chicago, where OPRAH tapes, solo or did you get to bring anyone? "They flew me and Gino Colombo, who does my hair and makeup."
Didn't Chicago just have a huge blizzard? "Yes! I was freezing my ass off when I got there. We stayed overnight at the Four Seasons Hotel, which overlooked the frozen Lake Michigan. They were still towing cars off of Lake Shore Drive that had been buried there."
What was the day of your appearance like? "She had three shows to do that day because the snowstorm had closed Harpo Studios. So on that day, there was a show about Jennifer Hudson, then us and the ladies from THE VIEW. Kay Alden, who used to be one of the head writers for Y&R, lives in Chicago and she came to my dressing room. We chatted a lot and she sat in the audience for the show."
Is Harpo Studios run as efficiently as Y&R? "I don't think even Bank Of America runs as well as her company. Oprah has one of the most magnificent staffs around her that I have ever seen. It's incredible and they handle every guest the same."
Did you get to meet her before taping? "No, not till on the stage. I didn't get to prepare myself. When I was introduced, I stood in a very Katherine Chancellor-like pose when the door opened up and the audience knew what that was and then I walked out on stage. She was very respectful and gave me a marvelous hug."
Were you nervous? "I was tongue-tied. They could have been talking about dog training and I would've said, 'Yeah, that's what I do.' When you see her, you don't want to talk about yourself, you want to talk about her. You forget all about yourself. It's one of the most incredible feelings. We talked for about 25 minutes but a lot was edited down."
What was taken out? "I told her, as Katherine Chancellor, that I'm far richer than her and I just bought Harpo Productions [laughs]."
After your interview, when cutting away to commercial, did you have a nice OPRAH moment? "She said she was glad I came and I asked if she was going to stay in Chicago when she finishes her last show. She said, 'I have a home in Montecito [CA]' and I said, 'I know that.' "
After your appearance, what did you do? Go sightseeing? Have a slice of Chicago pizza? "I ran to the dressing room, got into traveling clothes, jumped into a limo, got to the airport and came home."
How would you sum up the experience? "Surreal, but one of the highlights of my life."
Would you vote for Oprah if she ran for president? "No, because she couldn't deal with Congress. Obama is having a difficult time as it is and I bet he wishes he had the power of Oprah."