|Originally Aired: September 18, 2006
Filmmaker Tells the Story of her Grandfather, Late Barry Goldwater
|Filmmaker CC Goldwater, tells the story of her late grandfather Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator and one-time candidate for president through a documentary to air on HBO. |
JEFFREY BROWN: Barry Goldwater lived a very long and often
controversial public life. He served five terms as a Republican senator from Arizona. He lost a
landslide presidential election to Lyndon Johnson in 1964. He help define
conservativism and, in the process, helped reshape American politics.
A very personal take on that life is authored in a
documentary film that will air tonight on HBO. One of the filmmakers knew him
well as a grandfather. She is C.C. Goldwater, and she joins us now from New York.
You start this film with that very famous political ad from
1964 of a little girl picking flowers and the atomic bomb goes off. And you say
right away that the man who was the target of that ad was your grandfather. So,
from the start, this was very personal for you.
Tell us: What were you trying to do in this film?
C.C. GOLDWATER, Granddaughter of Barry Goldwater: I think
that opening segment really speaks for itself, in terms we wanted to show all
of the horrific images of Barry Goldwater, from the daisy commercial, to the
KKK. I mean, all those visuals you get right upfront is what everybody's
perception was of Barry Goldwater.
And I wanted to show this really private, personal side of
him so that people could really see the guy in terms of a full person, not just
the sound bite that you got where he would say something a little off-color or
a little controversial, but really show you the man, as a family man, as a
photographer, as an aviator, just, you know, really, a full picture of Barry
Goldwater, rather than just what we knew him as or what he was stigmatized as.
JEFFREY BROWN: So how did you go about doing it? How did you
make this film?
C.C. GOLDWATER: Well, I went to HBO, and I was able to work
with their documentary division, and Sheila Nevins was my executive producer
with me on this project. And I had originally -- they told me I needed to go
put together a promo and kind of show Barry Goldwater as what he really -- what
their audience would really like.
Because originally they were like, "We don't get the,
you know, HBO-Goldwater. It's not an obvious fit." So I went back, and I
was able to edit. I have a production partner named Tani Cohen, and she and I
put together a 15-minute promo piece that really showed Barry on all sides. It
showed the personal side; it showed the political side; it showed his comments
on the civil rights, all the things that are really the hot buttons of Barry
And then I went back to them. I showed them the film. They
loved the idea. They thought that he also a very multifaceted person. And it
was real different than what they really knew. And they green lit the project,
and gave us the go-ahead, and we immediately starting filming production, and
filmed it, you know, shot it and did all the interviews in 12 months, and edit
it, got it all done, and now it's going to be on the air tonight.
Imperfections of Mr. Goldwater
JEFFREY BROWN: One of the things that comes through loud and
clear is that your grandfather was a man who couldn't help but speak and act
his mind, it sounds like.
C.C. GOLDWATER: I think he was just really brutally frank. I
think that his -- he didn't buffer his dialogue. He was very straight-forward
and authentic, and I think that he wasn't -- he didn't like spin doctors. He
didn't like people telling him what to say.
He had some speechwriters, granted. You know, he had really
great speechwriters, like Karl Hess. But he was one of these people that really
just -- you knew it all came from his heart, and that's why I think -- doing
the interviews that I did, I was able to get some really wonderful feedback and
very honest feedback from the various people that I interviewed because he was
so intensely authentic to his word and accurate, and just one of these type of
people that I think that nowadays is kind of lost. I mean, I don't know if we
have those kind of characters like Barry Goldwater now.
JEFFREY BROWN: You do, though, show some of his flaws and
some of the bad decisions he made along the way, voting against the Civil
Rights Act in 1964 and other things. Was that hard for you at a personal level
to capture that?
C.C. GOLDWATER: You know, when you're doing a documentary,
you can't make it a love letter. It's not going to be interesting. It gets too
gushy and mushy, and it's not necessarily a real accurate portrait of him.
So I knew that I had to throw in the pieces that were not
going to be easy for me to watch. They weren't necessarily going to be things
that I wanted to revisit, but, because I didn't really know him politically and
I really just knew him as a grandfather, it was like an eye-opening experience
for me and really a great journey for me personally.
JEFFREY BROWN: And you do show some of the strains that all
this public life took on family life. There's an interesting clip that we'll
take a look at. This is your uncle talking about Barry Goldwater as a father. Let's
look at that.
BARRY GOLDWATER, JR., Former Congressman: I often said that
he was not necessarily the best father in the world; he was probably better
statesman than a father. But yet, when you stop and think about it, he was a
He was out of the old school, you know, stand on your own
feet, make your own way. He taught us at a young age to take care of ourselves,
how to light a fire out in the forests, how to hunt for food if we were
The two sides of Barry Goldwater
JEFFREY BROWN: What do you think that the world has wrong
about Barry Goldwater?
C.C. GOLDWATER: I think that what happened was that because
he did say what he felt and said what was on his mind, he was just really known
for those kind of statements. I mean, he was known for making comments like
he'd like to lob a nuclear weapon in the men's room in the Kremlin and he wants
to saw off the Eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea.
I think those sound bites are what caricatured him and
pigeonholed him into this rut of being stereotyped as a warmonger, a bigot, all
these different things. And I think that what I wanted to show with this film
was he was a very personal man.
He was very approachable. He would constantly give time, his
own personal time and other to talk to kids in schools and go do commencement
addresses. And he just really was one of these really down-to-earth person that
just don't exist anymore.
And I wanted so much to have a really accurate picture of him
so that he doesn't get lost in the shuffle of history. Because people like
Barry Goldwater are our past, but they also are our future, if we can apply
what his knowledge and his wisdom was from back then to what we do in the
current day that we're in.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you finally one thing about
the genre of documentaries, because there is always a lot of questions about
that these days. You mentioned Sheila Nevins, the head of HBO Documentaries,
and she described your film -- I saw an interview -- as, quote, "family
journalism." Not necessarily objective.
How should people watch this film? Should they watch it as
objective or as your subjective view of this man that you knew in a special
C.C. GOLDWATER: You know, there's two different kinds of
sides to this film. You see a real personal side that I bring to the table
from, "Let me tell about my family. Let me tell you about the
relationships. Let me interview my mom and my uncle, and let me just show you
this side that you never would see of Barry Goldwater."
And then we were able to get people like Hillary Clinton,
who was a former Goldwater girl, and Al Franken, and James Carville, and
Senator McCain, and we were able to get them to give you the political side of
Barry Goldwater and what he really meant as a political icon in this country.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right. The film is "Mr.
Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater." C.C. Goldwater, thanks very much.
C.C. GOLDWATER: Thank you.