These days 83-year-old Maury Povich has lots of free time to work on his golf game. “It's been my therapy for the last, you know, 50 years or so,” he said.
In March Povich announced that he's retiring from his day job, and that original episodes of his longtime talk show, “Maury” – famous (and infamous) for its out-of-control teens, unusual phobias, and most of all, paternity tests (“You are … NOT the father!”) would stop airing in September.
But long before the public knew him simply as “Maury,” Povich had already made his name as a public affairs host, a reporter, and an itinerant local anchorman who in his off-time studied the tapes of TV news' then “most trusted voice.”
“At that point in my life, the Holy Grail was to anchor a network news,” Povich told correspondent Mo Rocca. “I watched Cronkite because, of course, he was The Man.”
But life on the road took its toll. “I made the terrible mistake of not being with my family, worried about my career, and that ended in a divorce. The biggest mistake I've made was putting my job before my family. That was unconscionable.”
“You think it was unconscionable, but that was the business,” said Rocca.
“That's the addiction of the business,” he said.
So, when media mogul Rupert Murdoch offered him the relative stability of host of a new kind of news show, “A Current Affair,” Povich said yes. “I fervently believe that the first five or six or seven years of ‘A Current Affair' changed the whole landscape of covering news on television,” he said.
How so? “‘A Current Affair' became popular because of the stories that network newsrooms were putting in the trash can – Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and all the other so-called tabloid stories. And all of a sudden we were getting the ratings that network newscasts were getting. CBS News, I guarantee you, does more crime than they used to.”
The hosting job at “A Current Affair” also meant he would live in the same city as his second wife. Povich and Connie Chung had met in 1969 when he was a big shot at WTTG in Washington, D.C., and she was a copy girl. “Maury never paid any attention to me,” said Chung. “You know, I would rip wire copy off the wire machines and I'd hand it to him.”
“And were you pining for him?” Rocca asked.
“No!” she laughed.
Seven years later, in 1977, they met again on the West Coast. This time, Chung had top billing. “Co-anchor, second banana,” Povich said of himself. “And she was a big star in Los Angeles.”
That's when their current affair began. “We dated for over seven years, never lived together,” said Povich.
“Yeah, it was perfect!” she added.
They married in 1984. “But we were living in two different cities,” said Chung, “and that made it the perfect marriage.”
Povich asked, “Why don't you tell him it took you ten years to put me on the deed?”
“This is not about me,” she laughed.
Our interviewer interjected: “It's gonna be about the both – you and Maury, yeah.”
“No,” she laughed.
“What do you mean?” Rocca asked.
“See? I've been Mr. Chung for almost 40 years,” said Povich. “I mean, if you take a look at it in terms of my career, you could absolutely track that all of my success, my national success, came after I married this woman.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because she settled me, and she encouraged me, and she was a believer in what I had to offer.”
As for Connie's story, after she went national at NBC, she moved over to CBS, and in 1993, became co-anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” a first for Asian-Americans (and, at CBS, for women). The pairing, with Dan Rather, didn't last.
Povich said, “But at the same time, this was a very fortuitous moment, because in 1995, when she was taken off the ‘CBS Evening News,' the next day we find out that we're gonna adopt this little boy.”
“So, it was serendipity. You know, it was really meant to be,” said Chung.
Rocca asked, “When is Connie going to own her status as a trailblazer?”
“Well, you know, one of the biggest problems I have with this young lady is that she doesn't recognize what she's done,” Povich said. “She's just beginning to, because she gets now a lot of inquiries from young, Asian journalists. In fact, there's this whole crowd of Asian-American women named Connie because of her.”
“And some of them are named actually ‘Connie Chung …' and then something, last name,” she added.
“How does that make you feel?”
“I'm flabbergasted, honestly,” said Chung.
Today the couple splits their time between New York, Florida and Montana, where they keep watch over the Flathead Beacon, the award-winning local newspaper Povich created in 2007.
Rocca asked, “When you look at each other now, what do you see?”
Chung said, “I see a gorgeous man.”
“No!” said Povich.
“Yeah, I do.”
“What she will usually see is: you know, there's a little lint here, there's a little lint there …”
“Yeah, I'm like a monkey,” she said, picking at his sweater. “Monkeys do that.”
“So, I see the most beautiful woman I could ever imagine,” Povich said.
“Oh, Maury. I've become a prune. I'm shrinking and I'm up to your naval.”
Maury may be done with his program. But Maury Povich and Connie Chung? Their show goes on.
As they kissed on the putting green, Povich said, “Never let a club get between us.”
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Story produced by Jay Kernis. Editor: Steven Tyler.