Frost able to draw some shock insights from famous figures

By Sylvia Hui

Veteran British broadcaster David Frost, who died on Sunday aged 74, sat down with many big names over half a century. Here are some highlights.

Richard Nixon, 1977
Over almost 30 hours of interviews with Nixon, who resigned three years earlier in disgrace over the Watergate scandal, Frost pressed the ex-President to acknowledge and apologise for his wrongdoing in office. Frost managed to get the following remarkable responses.
Frost: "I think people need to hear it, and I think unless you say it, you're going to be haunted for the rest of your life."
Nixon: "I let down my friends. I let down the country. I let down our system of government and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but will think it is all too corrupt and the rest ... And I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life."
Frost: "So what you are saying is that there are certain situations ... where the President can decide that it's in the best interest of the nation or something, and do something illegal?"
Nixon: "Well, when the President does it that means that it is not illegal."
Frost: "By definition?"
Nixon: "Exactly."

Muhammad Ali, 1974
Frost interviewed the legendary heavyweight boxer, then 32, inside a boxing ring, ahead of his landmark fight with George Foreman, when most people wrongly thought Ali would lose. But Ali was animated and brimming with confidence in the interview.
Ali: "I think it is befitting that I go out of boxing just like I came in, defeating a big, bad monster that nobody could destroy ... Listen, David, when I meet this man, if you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait till I whip Foreman's behind."
The boxer continued, partly talking directly to the camera: "Listen, George Foreman, people are afraid of George Foreman. They talk about how hard he hits. The world has been deceived. You listen to me. You listen to me now, I never told you wrong. The man don't hit hard."

Margaret Thatcher, 1985
Frost grilled the former British Prime Minister about the sinking of the Argentine ship Belgrano by a British submarine that killed 323 sailors during the Falklands conflict. After being confronted with a barrage of questions, Thatcher finally said in frustration: "Do you think, Mr Frost, that I spend my days prowling round the pigeonholes of the Ministry of Defence to look at the chart of each and every ship? If you do, you must be bonkers."

Mikhail Gorbachev, 1993
Frost asked the former Soviet Union leader about communism, his legacy, and his views of Thatcher.
Gorbachev: "It was not too easy to begin with ... but I felt from the start I could deal with her. I regarded her as an outstanding woman and a major political force. I was far from sharing all her opinions. ... Many sharp words were exchanged. I could never agree to the way she felt about nuclear weapons. She was too attracted to nuclear weapons."
Frost: "Were you alike in character, do you think?"
Gorbachev after a pause and a shrug: "That's difficult to answer. I think it's up to you to try to answer that. But she was an interesting human being."

Tony Blair, 2002
Frost posed an unexpected question about the former British Prime Minister's relationship with ex-President George W. Bush.
Frost: "Do you pray together?"
Blair: "Pray together? How do you mean?"
Frost: "Do you say prayers together for peace, you and the President."
Blair: "Well we don't say prayers together, no, but I'm sure he in his way hopes for peace. I hope for peace too."

Bill Clinton
In an undated clip shown by the BBC yesterday, Frost asked the former US President about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Frost: "Did you love her?"
Clinton: "No. I don't think that's what that was about. On either side. But I liked her very much."

- AP

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