Bob Schieffer remembers Michael Ansara

(CBS News) Michael Ansara, the actor who specialized in playing American Indians and aliens, died last week at age 91.

He will be remembered by many for his "Star Trek" role as Kang, the evil Klingon leader.

Michael Ansara as Cochise in the ABC-TV series "Broken Arrow," which aired 1956-58.
ABC
But I'll remember him for his earlier role as the Apache Indian chief Cochise, and because he and his then-wife, Barbara Eden (who was then starring in a TV series based on "How to Marry a Millionaire," and would go on to play the title role in "I Dream of Jeannie"), were the first "celebrities" I ever interviewed.

It was 1957. They came to Fort Worth because he was guest-starring at the rodeo. I was a 20-year-old college student working nights at a little radio station, and was sent out to interview them.

It was not easy. Tape recorders were suitcase size in those days. I had never interviewed a movie star, and their hotel near the rodeo arena had no elevator.

Once I wrestled the tape recorder up to their room, I was out of breath, had somehow lost the questions I planned to ask, and managed to say to her at one point, "In your show, you basically play a dumb blonde, right?"

To which she responded, "Basically."

Even so, they treated me with patience and good humor.

A lot has changed in journalism since then. Recorders are much smaller. I hope I've learned to ask better questions. I'm sure they soon forgot the episode, and I never saw them again.

But I never forgot how kind they were to a kid who had no idea what he was doing.

When you're "the kid," you never forget those things.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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