Oprah: You look good! Those legs—is that just genes?
Tina: Yeah, I always had long legs. When I was young, I used to think, "Why do I look like a little pony?"
Oprah: Your legs aren't just long, they're shapely and beautiful.
Tina: I never put a lot of praise on myself because of my relationship with Ike. I was just happy when I started to like myself—when I divorced and took control of my life.
Oprah: You didn't just divorce. You broke out.
Tina: That's right.
Oprah: Growing up, how poor were you? Every time I hear your song "Nutbush City Limits," I think of my little hometown in Mississippi.
Tina: We weren't in poverty. We had food on the table. We just didn't have fancy things, like bicycles. We were church people, so on Easter, we got all done up. I was very innocent and didn't know much else. I knew the radio—B.B. King, country and western. That's about it. I didn't know anything about being a star until the white people allowed us to come down and watch their television once a week.
Oprah: Which white people?
Tina: The Poindexters. My [maternal] grandmother lived on their farm. That's when I saw Loretta Young on TV. I thought someday I'd have a star on my dressing room. But guess what? When we did "A Fool in Love," and we went to the clubs, we were in a storage room full of beer bottles, Coke bottles. We had to dust and clean up. We were on the road, sleeping in the car.
Oprah: But you started to dream when you first saw Loretta Young?
Tina: Before that. Remember Betty Grable?
Tina: You're 15 years younger than me. Betty Grable [a World War II pinup girl and actress] had beautiful short legs. She was in proportion.
Oprah: Your legs are endless.
Tina: That's what I didn't like. I didn't know how to buy clothes for that. As I grew up, I learned what worked for me. That's where the short dresses came from. And you can't dance in a long dress.
Oprah: No, no. But let's start with Nutbush. What carried you to the next point?
Tina: Fate. When my parents went off to Knoxville to work, I lived with my father's mother. She was strict—the kind who starched and ironed dresses. I had to sit more than I played. Oh, I was miserable. I liked being out with the animals. I'd come in the house with my hair pulled out, sash off the dress, dirty as heck. I was always getting spanked. When my parents returned, they separated. Oooh, Oprah! You know what happens to children sometimes when their parents separate—school can be really cruel. I got teased, and it interfered with my learning. But I grew out of that, and I fell in love in high school. Why did I fall so deeply in love? I think when you haven't had that much love at home, and then you find someone you love, everything comes out.
Oprah: The first love can be the most difficult to get through because you've had no experience.
Tina: That's right. When I think of Harry now, my heart beats faster. He was the most good-looking guy. Everything was in the right place—his eyes, his nose, his mouth. He was a basketball star. Sometimes I'd wear his jacket. It was fainting hot, but because it was his jacket, I wore it. It was magical.
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