If anyone knows how to write a successful Chapter Two to the story of her life, it's Jane Pauley, who left the spotlight of morning TV almost 25 years ago. Michelle Miller asks her about her past, present and future in this Sunday Profile:
It was 1976. Sitting next to Tom Brokaw on the "Today" show set was a new face:
"I am 25 years old today, and some people say that is simply not old enough. Well, I'm inclined to think it makes precious little difference how old I am. At any rate, I can't do anything about it but anticipate my 26th birthday upcoming in two weeks."
"I was so young," Jane Pauley says today. "I knew I didn't belong there. And if you hear my little speech on that first day, I'm trying to talk like anchor people talk. You can hear me trying really hard, to both apologize for being too young but to sound mature? It's painful!"
If she was uncomfortable, she didn't look it. Fresh faced, forthright and funny, Jane Pauley grew up, got married, had kids, and faced life's challenges while we all watched . . . somehow managing not to let all that success and attention go to her head.
Miller said, "You have been noted for being one of the nicest and most humble people in television."
"I don't sound that humble!" Pauley replied.
"Well, closest thing we could find of you boasting is you admitting to having precocious broadcasting skills."
"Yeah, I had the ability to talk about things I knew nothing about and sound like I actually was well-informed!"
At 63, Pauley is as level-headed as she ever was. Is it any wonder that she's now showing baby boomers how to move gracefully, even enthusiastically, into the next phase of life?
"We are at a stage of life where we're supposed to be planning for, or anticipating, or dreading retirement," she said. "When after that artificial date, at the age of 65, we know we could live another decade, two, or three. What are we going to do?"
Her new book, published by CBS' Simon & Schuster, is her own answer to that question. "Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life" is based on stories of people who have reinvented their lives and careers in middle age, along with her own insights into the unanticipated joys of getting older.
"In our 60s, we develop a confidence based on the experience and skills we have," she said. "We are more risk-takers."
And have more freedom, she says, with the children grown.
Her husband, "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau, is busy with his own many projects.
"Garry confessed once that when I travel it's kind of fun when he's home alone!" Pauley said. "It's the truth, and I don't feel at all guilty about leaving."
She was born Margaret Jane Pauley in Indiana on Halloween, 1950. Her father was a salesman. She always described her mother as a housewife, until one day she heard herself introduced by Hillary Clinton this way:
"She says, 'She's the daughter of a musician,' and I'm kind of uncomfortable thinking someone's given her . . . then it hits me: You are the daughter of a musician. Every Sunday of my life I saw my mother sitting at the front of the church at the organ, at her command, bum, bunn, the congregation would rise!"
So, this daughter of a musician made her way through high school and college in Indiana, then onto local TV, where her likability and Midwestern good sense sparkled right from the start.