The great Lance Armstrong

1. Lance Armstrong
When Lance Armstrong won his seventh straight Tour de France this past summer, he proved beyond a doubt that he is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Lance rode a strategically flawless race to win what is considered the most grueling sporting event around. What makes this champion a legend? His life both on and off the bike continues to inspire millions.

Oprah: Do you acknowledge for yourself that you are one of the greatest...ever?

Lance: It's better that you say that, and I don't say that. I'd rather just sit back and let the results speak for themselves, and smart people like you or whoever else can declare that.
Sheryl Crow

2. Sheryl Crow on Her Engagement to Lance
Lance popped the question to rock star girlfriend Sheryl Crow while vacationing in Sun Valley, Idaho. While enjoying a romantic ride on the middle of a picturesque mountain lake, their small fishing boat ran out of gas. Far from feeling stranded, Lance seized the "too perfect" moment to propose.

We caught up with Sheryl to see what she had to say about the engagement—and to sneak a peek at her stunning six carat, cushion-cut diamond ring. "He definitely pulled out all the stops," she says, "He was being really romantic."

Why does Sheryl think Lance is the greatest?

"There are too many things to name that I love about him. He's gorgeous, he's funny, and he's smart, and he's a fantastic dad...gosh, I just love him."
Lance Armstrong

3. Lance Reacts to Drug Allegations
Lance also spoke about allegations of performance-enhancing drugs that resurfaced after his most recent Tour de France win. "It's a witch hunt. I've said that from the beginning, and it continues," says Lance, "So, it's not good, but you know what? I have to tell you, I mean, everybody in this country knows the truth."

How do the accusations affect Lance?

"This time, without sounding hokey, it broke my heart. I mean, really made me sad," Lance explains. "So here I sit, and it doesn't feel good. But having said that, between the West Coast and the East Coast, there's a ton of love and support—and that's what matters."
Lance Armstrong

4. Lance's Future Plans
After winning the Tour de France for the seventh time, Lance announced his retirement. How did it feel to finish his last race? "It felt great, actually. I felt like a free man," he says. "It was a moment where I said, you know what? I don't have to worry about next year. I don't have to worry about ... training camp. I don't have to worry about my condition. I don't have to watch every single piece of food I put in my mouth, and, you know, there's something nice about that."

What else does Lance have planned? Spending time with his three children and joining Sheryl on her tour.
Sir Anthony Hopkins

5. Sir Anthony Hopkins
Oprah has always wanted to interview Sir Anthony Hopkins. His incredible performances put him in a league all his own. From his heart attack in Meet Joe Black to his disturbing portrayal of Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs, some of his roles are so convincing, Oprah admits she's often worried about Sir Hopkins.

Oprah: When you take on the energy of that character, you do it so well. I wonder, how are you able to just release that and then go on with your life?

Anthony: I guess it does affect me! ... I think it does get into your nervous system because the body doesn't know what's happening.

Oprah: That's exactly what I thought!
Gwyneth Paltrow

6. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow co-stars with Anthony Hopkins in the movie Proof. "Working with Sir Anthony Hopkins was one of the best professional experiences of my life," says Gwyneth, "He has this incredible gift, it's a God-given gift. He just has the most amazing presence and the most amazing way of conveying emotion."

Gwyneth's special message for Anthony continued: "I think everybody feels very lucky to be around him and getting the opportunity to watch him work. ... It was an absolute sublime pleasure to work with you, and I hope that it happens again."
Anthony Hopkins and Oprah

7. Anthony Hopkins Reads from the Phone Book
 Oprah had a surprise request for her esteemed guest.

"I've always said to my friends about you, that listening to you speak is so incredible that, it wouldn't matter to me what you were doing," says Oprah. "He could read the yellow pages to me!"

Anthony Hopkins's wife, Stella

8. Anthony Hopkins's Wife, Stella
Anthony and Stella tied the knot two years ago. Stella says it was love at first sight. What was it about Anthony that made her say, "He's the one"?

"It was a remoteness. An elegance. These wonderful blue eyes. And I saw a man that was—seemed alone, perhaps lonely. And I thought, 'I think I can free him,' like the bird in the cage—open the cage and free him!"

"And she has. Very much so," says Anthony.
Anthony Hopkins

9. Anthony Hopkins' Great Leveler
There was a time when another knight ruled the silver screen—Sir Laurence Olivier! One interaction between Anthony's father and the Oscar-winning star of Hamlet and Wuthering Heights helped shape Anthony's opinion of stardom.

Anthony's parents once visited him backstage after a play he was starring in alongside Laurence Olivier's wife. After the play ended, there was a knock on the door and in walked Sir Olivier. Anthony introduced his mother and father, who was a "very ordinary guy with a wonderful personality and great sense of ironic humor."

Anthony's father asked Olivier how old he was and discovered they were both born in 1907. "My father said, 'The same age as me. We're both getting very old now, aren't we?'" Anthony says. "When he left, my mother said, 'That was Laurence Olivier! How could you say that to him?'"

Anthony's father replied, "Well, he breathes oxygen just like me, doesn't he?" And since that day, Anthony has seen oxygen as the "great leveler."
'So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross' CD

10. Tribute to Luther Vandross
On July 1, 2005, America lost one of the most powerful forces in R&B. Luther Vandross, a Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer, left us all too soon, but his musical legacy lives on.

Many of Luther's superstar friends—Usher, Patti LaBelle, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Jamie Foxx and more—are performing his greatest hits on a new album, So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross. The special collaboration includes hits like "Superstar", "Here & Now" and "Power of Love".
Usher Raymond

11. Usher Honors a 'Superstar'
Like many young artists, Usher grew up listening to Luther Vandross' soulful ballads and R&B classics.

Usher: Luther influenced my life in every way, in so many ways that I can't even explain. ... Before I was born, he was making music.

Oprah: Did you all get to choose the song that you wanted for this CD?

Usher: We fought about "Superstar"...but I won.
Usher and Oprah

12. Doctor of Love
Luther's legendary love ballads also struck a chord with Usher.

"He's influenced me in so many different ways—as a vocalist, as a communicator of love," Usher says. "His music holds so much passion. As a child, I realized one day I would have to make love songs, and I hoped that they would be just as good as Luther Vandross'."

"He was the doctor of love," Oprah says. "We miss him and we love him...I know Mary Ida Vandross, his mother, is at home, and we salute you Ms. Vandross. We salute you very much."
Patti LaBelle

13. Patti LaBelle Sings "Here and Now"
Patti LaBelle honors the memory of Luther Vandross, her best friend of 40 years, with an emotional rendition of his chart-topping hit "Here & Now." Then, Patti shares what she wants everyone to know about him.

"He was so much fun," Patti says. "And he was such a prankster. He would always play tricks on people and buy you good clothes, too. He bought me all this fierce Versace—he treated his women to beautiful clothes."

What did Luther teach Oprah? "This is what I learned from Luther...I learned the meaning of living well," Oprah says. "He had Lalique glasses to drink Kool-Aid out of. He lived so fabulously."
Patti LaBelle

14. Luther Vandross's Last Days
Oprah: After Luther's stroke, you were one of the optimists saying, "I believe he will come back." Did you believe that or were you being hopeful?

Patti: I was being very hopeful. I knew he was in a bad place. He would sing with me when I would come, but he couldn't quite get it the way that he did.

And I think maybe Luther wanted to go. Maybe he wanted to just say goodbye, knowing that he would never leave me. But I think he wanted to just take a rest.
John H. Johnson

15. Dignitaries Honor John H. Johnson
On August 8, 2005, John H. Johnson, one of the greatest publishers in history, died of heart failure. He will be best known as the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, but his influence also made him a catalyst for social change—changing the way millions of people viewed black leaders, black culture, music and fashion.

Born into poverty, Mr. Johnson founded his media, fashion and cosmetics empire in 1942 with a $500 loan secured by his mother's furniture. His revolutionary business became the world's largest black-owned publishing company, and Mr. Johnson was the first African-American to make the Forbes list of wealthiest people.

"Mr. Johnson had big dreams for himself, but more importantly, he had big dreams for the community," Illinois Senator Barack Obama says.

In 1996, President Clinton awarded Mr. Johnson the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Then, at his funeral in August 2005, President Clinton said, "One man stood out because his dream was bigger, and he had a vision of how to achieve it."

"We lost a great visionary whose groundbreaking work paved the way for so many people—myself included," Oprah says. "He showed us who we could be. Thank you, Mr. Johnson."
FROM: Lance Armstrong, Anthony Hopkins and a Tribute to Luther Vandross
Published on September 20, 2005


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