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2002-Oct-28: Heather's "Today" Show Appearance

Early this morning, Heather Mills McCartney discussed her book, "A Single Step" with Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show.

MATT LAUER:  Her life story is so remarkable it could be the stuff of fiction. From a childhood filled with turmoil and some abuse, to a fairy tale marriage to one of the world's most famous men, Paul McCartney. And in between, Heather Mills suffered a terrible accident that cost her her leg. In fact, it was her devotion to the cause of amputees that brought Mills and Sir Paul together. And when they married last June, the couple released this photo to raise money for the charity, Adopt-a-Minefield. Mills tells her life story in a book called "A Single Step," the proceeds of which will go to that charity.

Mr. LAUER: Heather Mills McCartney, good morning.

Ms. McCARTNEY: Hello.

Mr. LAUER: Good to have you back. You were just saying the last time you were here was the day before September 11th.

Ms.  McCARTNEY: Tenth of September. I was getting that award with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Ferguson. And you said to me, 'Why would America ever be interested in the land mine cause, and sadly twin towers disaster happened the next day. So we organized a concert and then put together the song "Freedom" and raised millions.

Mr. LAUER: Yeah. Ironic timing. Let--let's talk about this book. I would imagine with all the attention and all the spotlight you've been under for the last year or so of your life, the last thing you'd want to do would be write a book and make these rounds and--and talk about your personal life. It...

Ms. McCARTNEY: It's precisely because of that that I--that I put it together. I actually was asked at the age of 25 to write my autobiography, of which I did, but just for England and Europe because that was--was where I was known. And I used the earnings that I made from it to--from the--the thousands of amputees that I fitted up.  So the--because I was so open and I'd written my book, so there was no skeletons in the cupboard. When I met Paul I wanted to protect him and--and the kids and so I said nothing. No comment, no comment. So all the editors went, you know, 'Screw you,' you know, 'You were open to us and now you won't talk.' So they just got very, very nasty and said things like, you know, 'Oh, you know, she stole when she was a child,' as if that was a discovery, whereas I wrote it in my book. So Paul said, 'Update your book.' And--and I'll give all my earnings to charity.

Mr. LAUER: I'll talk about some of those stories in a second. But, you know, there was a time in your life and shortly after your accident, where the--the tabloids and newspapers treated you wonderfully.

Ms. McCARTNEY: They did. Yes.

Mr. LAUER: You were the human interest story. Everybody said let's root for this young lady. She's struggling to overcome. And then all of a sudden.

Ms. McCARTNEY: It's because I went quiet. Because I was always open and honest about everything all the time. And when I met Paul he was very private. So I just put on my answering machine, 'I have no comment,' which was the biggest mistake.

Mr. LAUER: And they started to target you.

Ms. McCARTNEY: Yeah.

Mr. LAUER: And you became a bit of a villain for these people. A lot of people say that it's because you had the nerve to run off with one of their icons.

Ms. McCARTNEY: I think it is. He's--he's--he's a national treasure and they think, you know, that they own him and--but Linda had exactly the same and the amount, you know, 10 times worse than I had.

Mr. LAUER: Yoko Ono...

Ms. McCARTNEY: Yeah.

Mr. LAUER: ...I mean the same type of situation.

Ms. McCARTNEY: And their marriage lasted over 30 years, so ...

Mr. LAUER: These stories you talk about, you said skeletons that aren't skeletons. But some of the childhood problems: mother leaving you with your--with your father, being homeless for a while under the Waterloo Bridge, joining a carnival, which sounds like running off to the circus. I mean, do you think people will be surprised when they look at you today that you had this kind of background as a child, as a young lady?

Ms. McCARTNEY: They are. I mean, I do a lot of speeches to corporations and motivational speeches and--and they always start off going, 'Yeah' because they're generally guys, 'What she's going to tell us?' And then by the end of it, it's--it's apparently totally inspired them, which is why they keep asking me to do more. But you know, it's the truth and that's how my life's been and it's enabled me to overcome the adversity I've gone through. You know, my mother lost a leg at the same age as me. They reattached it and then she died years later because of a blood clot. And then I worked in the war in the former Yugoslavia for two years.  Why did I lose my leg going back to England to publicize the problems going on over there. My whole life--and I believe everybody's life is about fate. Everything happens for a reason. Great things and disasters. And it was while I was get--giving an award to a girl that lost her arms and legs to meningitis who was a pianist and a chemist, that Paul spotted me and that's how the relationship began.

Mr. LAUER: Some in this country, and I guess in Europe also, have accused of you exaggerating some of these stories. How do you feel about that?

Ms. McCARTNEY: You know, my family, my friends know what the truth is. You know, people just can't--they don't want to believe it. It's like when I lost my leg, the therapist came in and she went, 'You're being far too positive about this. How can you not be devastated?' You know, 'You've lost your leg. You've crushed your pelvis. You've punctured your lung. You split your head open,' you know. And every day she'd come in and try and knock me down, because that was kind of the British counseling way. By the end of the week she said, 'You're--you'll never be attractive to men again,' you know. 'You'll never meet anybody who'll want to be with you.' And I looked at this woman and she wasn't a very attractive sight. And I said, 'Look darling, if I lost my arms and my legs, I'd still be more attractive than you.'  So I don't really care what people think that I don't know, you know. And that's why my family knew everything. But Paul said, 'Look, you know, you might as well make some money for the charity by updating the book than the tabloids just keep writing their rubbish and making money themselves.'  So...

Mr. LAUER: They're going to write what they want anyway.

Ms. McCARTNEY: Yeah, you'd think after September 11th, that people would - especially in the media would want to carry on like really making a difference and, you know, I don't make millions for myself. I'm not like a movie star or an actress, you know. But, you know, why aren't they knocking the pedophiles and the criminals, but they just want to keep going. But then you get the good side of the media that make a massive difference and have really supported me along the way.

Mr. LAUER: I hope married life is everything you expected. We could probably sit here and talk for another 25, 30 minutes. But it's nice to have you here.

Ms. McCARTNEY: Thank you.

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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