BY DR. RONALD GOLDSTEIN

Beauty matters, and nowhere does beauty play a more important role than the media. There have been numerous stories written about the beautiful media spokespeople, and no one typifies beautiful women in the media more than Deborah Norville.

I’ve been impressed with her from the beginning of her career, following her through the ups and downs, hosting the “Today” show and her subsequent dismissal from that position. (I was one of many Americans upset when she was let go!) However, I and most of the country have been impressed with what she has done since then. Her books – motivational autobiography and children’s books – have helped so many people, and especially the TV program she anchors, “Inside Edition.”

I am so pleased she agreed to this interview, because it will help others understand the importance of perseverance and standing up for what they know is right… and she’s had the courage and determination to do just that!

 

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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: “Tough”…. “Savvy”…. “A Survivor” … are among the words that have been used to describe you. Do you agree, or how would you describe yourself?
Deborah Norville: I am a survivor more than anything. I believe the race is long. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you keep the long view – in EVERYTHING – you are not only more likely to reach your goal, but also to not be disappointed along the way.
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: How did television influence you as you were growing up? Are its influences on today’s people similar or different? Should we fear the tube? What efforts are you aware of to combat these negatives?
Deborah Norville: When I was a child, television was different. Afternoons were spent watching Popeye Club on TV – which was Popeye cartoons interspersed around a kid’s show, which featured Officer Don and the Ooey-Gooey Bag Contest. Pretty tame stuff. Today, an unattended child can see everything from soft porn to poker for money to cartoons with a level of violence far more intense than Popeye confronting Brutus or defending Olive Oyl. I don’t believe one should “fear” the tube, but should be mindful that as Edward R. Murrow once said, “it can inspire and illuminate” or, as is often the case, influence in a most negative way.
I personally monitor my kids’ viewing pretty strictly. We have a mostly no TV rule during school days – a bit more relaxed for our 8th grade sports fanatic – but unbendable for the younger two. In fact, my first children’s book, I Don’t Want to Sleep Tonight, dealt with this issue. When my oldest child was about seven, I detected a connection between his weekend TV viewing or Nintendo playing and his inability to sleep soundly. In verse form, the book allowed my child – and thousands of others – to discover that when they “don’t watch the TV set” they have quiet dreams. It helped my own children resist the siren song of the television and I’ve heard from so many other parents who say it has done the same for their children too!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: You referred many times in Back on Track to the problems when you were a co-host of the “Today” show – but I am only aware of how good you were at your job! Looking back, is there anything you feel you did to justify the negative press and NBC’s decision to replace you?
Deborah Norville: It wasn’t anything that I did – simply that I was the replacement for Jane Pauley, who after 13 years was an institution on “Today.” The transition was handled clumsily by management and because they maintained a “no comment” posture – and put a gag order on me (and I presume Jane as well) – the press was left to speculate as to what was going on. Human nature being what it is, the press imagined the worse: that I was pushing Jane out, orchestrating my own career advancement. At that time, I thought being silent was a foolish posture and the only thing I would have done differently would have been to speak with the press. I have always had open dialogue with the media before and since and must say it has served me well!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: What are the most important lessons you learned from your parents and how have those helped you as an adult… and as a parent?
Deborah Norville: My mother always said, “Whatever you do, Debbie, always be a lady.” My dad often paraphrased Mark Twain who said, “Be careful who you step on on your way up, you may need to lean on them on the way down!” My own personal motto is one from Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, who says, “Service is the rent we pay for living.”
I have been blessed to have the good health and family that I do, the opportunities that have come my way, and an incredible public voice with which to speak. It’s why I try to find time for charities that are important to me, like Girl Scouts and the Alzheimer’s Association, to not only give back myself, but remind others that there are many ways they can make a difference.
Sometimes it takes only a phone call to brighten a day – or change a life. Amazing, isn’t it?
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: Who was your role model when you were growing up? Do you have a role model today?
Deborah Norville: My mom. She had enormous health problems and died when I was twenty, but she was always focused and direct and just made being a capable woman a natural thing. It was only when I left home, that I realized not everyone expected women to be self-assured and capable.

ABOUT BEAUTY
Dr. Ronald Goldstein: As a past beauty pageant winner, what impact did the experience have on you? What’s your perception of beauty pageants – are they valuable to young women, or are they detrimental?
Deborah Norville: It’s a stretch to call America’s Junior Miss a beauty pageant! The closest one comes to ‘beauty’ was the fitness routine which was more like a cheerleading exercise! It was a scholarship pageant in which half the score was judges’ interview and grade transcripts. I had straight A’s and can talk my way out of a paper bag! Since my talent was sewing, you can imagine I didn’t rack up too many points there!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: You have certainly experienced discrimination in your career, but do you feel you ever suffered, or were exceptionally favored as a result of your good looks?
Deborah Norville: Appearance will get you in the door – incompetence will get you out even faster! But I must say, it was with relish, after the “Today” show, that I pointed out I couldn’t possibly have gotten my talk show with ABC Radio thanks to blonde hair and blue eyes!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: In your book, Back on Track, you list 37 ways to take care of yourself. Which of these are the ones you do most frequently and yield the greatest success?
Deborah Norville: I LOVE massages … and don’t get them nearly enough! IF YOU HAVE GOALS YOU TEND TO DO BETTER IN LIFE!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: In your book, you told of the Israeli soldier test marches and how these soldiers did better if they had definite goals and reinforcement of these goals. Do you still set goals for yourself and if so, what are they now?
Deborah Norville: Goals are personal. I am one of those who sets the goals, goes about accomplishing them and then lets the world know what I have done. Not one of my books was talked about publicly until there was a publication date. I can’t stand people who yack about their upcoming projects that never seem to come!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: What advice can you give women who are trying to balance a career and their family and/or trying to make a professional comeback?
Deborah Norville: You CAN have it all… you just can’t have it all at the same time. Life is about choices and when you have a family, there are many more choices to be made. I find that making them with love for family first will always make that choice easier with which to live.
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: What do you consider your greatest life achievement to date?
Deborah Norville: Check in with me at the funeral home just before they plant me – I’ll let you know then! 

 
 
 
  Deborah Norville

Career:
• More than 20 years of broadcast journalism
• Anchor of “Inside Edition,” the nation's top-rated syndicated news
     magazine
• Host of “Deborah Norville Tonight” on MSNBC Cable Network
• Past co-anchor of NBC's “Today” show
• Hosted “Deborah Norville Radio Show” (ABC Radio Network)

Family:
• Married; 3 children

Awards:
• 2 Emmy awards
• “Mother of the Year” (National Mother’s Day Committee)
• “Best in Business” (Washington Journalism Review)

Author:
• Back on Track: How to Straighten Out Your Life When It Throws
     
You A Curve  (Simon and Schuster)
• Children’s books –
      I Don't Want To Sleep Tonight (one of Golden Books’ strongest sellers)
      I Can Fly

Public Service:
• Board of Directors for Greater New York City Council of Girl Scouts
• Steering Committee for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Gala
• Board of Directors for the Broadcasters Foundation
• Women’s Committee for Central Park Conservancy

 
 
 
 
ABOUT BEAUTY
Dr. Ronald Goldstein: As a past beauty pageant winner, what impact did the experience have on you? What’s your perception of beauty pageants – are they valuable to young women, or are they detrimental?
Deborah Norville: It’s a stretch to call America’s Junior Miss a beauty pageant! The closest one comes to ‘beauty’ was the fitness routine which was more like a cheerleading exercise! It was a scholarship pageant in which half the score was judges’ interview and grade transcripts. I had straight A’s and can talk my way out of a paper bag! Since my talent was sewing, you can imagine I didn’t rack up too many points there!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: You have certainly experienced discrimination in your career, but do you feel you ever suffered, or were exceptionally favored as a result of your good looks?
Deborah Norville: Appearance will get you in the door – incompetence will get you out even faster! But I must say, it was with relish, after the “Today” show, that I pointed out I couldn’t possibly have gotten my talk show with ABC Radio thanks to blonde hair and blue eyes!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: In your book, Back on Track, you list 37 ways to take care of yourself. Which of these are the ones you do most frequently and yield the greatest success?
Deborah Norville: I LOVE massages … and don’t get them nearly enough! IF YOU HAVE GOALS YOU TEND TO DO BETTER IN LIFE!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: In your book, you told of the Israeli soldier test marches and how these soldiers did better if they had definite goals and reinforcement of these goals. Do you still set goals for yourself and if so, what are they now?
Deborah Norville: Goals are personal. I am one of those who sets the goals, goes about accomplishing them and then lets the world know what I have done. Not one of my books was talked about publicly until there was a publication date. I can’t stand people who yack about their upcoming projects that never seem to come!
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: What advice can you give women who are trying to balance a career and their family and/or trying to make a professional comeback?
Deborah Norville: You CAN have it all… you just can’t have it all at the same time. Life is about choices and when you have a family, there are many more choices to be made. I find that making them with love for family first will always make that choice easier with which to live.
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Dr. Ronald Goldstein: What do you consider your greatest life achievement to date?
Deborah Norville: Check in with me at the funeral home just before they plant me – I’ll let you know then! 
 
 

Author of the consumer guide to dentistry, Change Your Smile (Quintessence Publishing), Dr. Ronald Goldstein is a long-time esthetic dentist in Atlanta, whose practice was the first to move beyond the smile and focus on overall facial harmony. With a lifelong interest in beauty, Dr. Goldstein has conducted research on the concept of physical attractiveness and its role in the achievement of personal success. He writes extensively on beauty, esthetic dentistry and related topics.

Dr. Goldstein can be contacted by email at goldsteingarber@goldsteingarber.com

From the Spring 2005 issue.

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