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The Proust Questionnaire

Catherine Deneuve~Which historical figure do you most identify with? George Sand. Which living person do you most admire? Aung San Suu Kyi. What is your greatest fear? The war. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Having too many things on my mind at the same time. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Inconsistency. What is your greatest extravagance? Spending all my money when I was 17 years old to buy an Hermès Kelly bag. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Beauty. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My left ear. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Je ne finis pas mes phrases. [I do not finish my sentences.] What or who is the greatest love of your life? Nature. Which talent would you most like to have? The gift of a scientific mind. What is your current state of mind? Restless. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My future. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Nothing. What do you consider your greatest achievement? A wild garden. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A lime tree. What is your most treasured possession? Lucidity. What is your favorite occupation? Playing in the garden. What is your most marked characteristic? Impassivity. What is the quality you most like in a man? Fantasy and talent. What do you most value in your friends? Uniqueness. Who are your favorite writers? Rainer Maria Rilke. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Mandrake the Magician. What is it that you most dislike? Insects. How would you like to die? In my sleep or standing. What is your motto? “À coeur vaillant, rien d’impossible.” [With a valiant heart, nothing is impossible.]

Ernest Borgnine~What is your idea of perfect happiness? Finally, a happy marriage, of now 39 years! What is your greatest fear? Having gone through the depression of ’29, I’d hate to see the U.S. hit bottom and not come back! Which historical figure do you most identify with? Abraham Lincoln. Which living person do you most admire? My own doctor, Paul Rudnick. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Laziness. What is your favorite journey? Going home after any journey. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Perfectionism. On what occasion do you lie? Never lie—fib a little! What do you dislike most about your appearance? Glad to be a Clark Gable! Which living person do you most despise? A politician. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Amazing.” What or who is the greatest love of your life? My children and my wife, Tova. When and where were you happiest? When: I finish a good scene. Where: looking back, in the navy. Which talent would you most like to have? Being a better actor. What is your current state of mind? Tranquil, except for daily worries. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? At 93, I do everything I used to do, only slower. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Doing and receiving things in my profession I never thought possible. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? As a thing: a medicine to kill cancer once and for all. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A country doctor, to help people. What is your most treasured possession? Most of all, my health. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Those poor homeless guys who have served their country and now live on the streets and the country has forgotten them. Where would you like to live? Right where I’m at—it’s heaven! What is your favorite occupation? There’s something besides acting? What is your most marked characteristic? My laughter. Who are your favorite writers? Mark Twain. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Huckleberry Finn. Who are your heroes in real life? Certainly not politicians—surely police, firemen, doctors, and the military. What are your favorite names? What’s wrong with Ernest! How would you like to die? Softly, in a nice bed, no suffering, with God on my lips! What is your motto? “I don’t want to set the world on fire; I just want to keep my nuts warm.”

Lauren Bacall~What is your idea of perfect happiness? Waking up in the morning. What is your greatest fear? Not waking up in the morning. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Marie Antoinette. Which living person do you most admire? No one I can think of offhand. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Thinking. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not thinking. What is your greatest extravagance? Spending. What is your favorite journey? Paris. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? A 24-inch waist. On what occasion do you lie? Only when I’m sure I’m not going to get caught. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Fred Astaire. What is your most treasured possession? My feet. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Continual unemployment. Where would you like to live? Anywhere but here. What is your favorite occupation? Beefing. What is your most marked characteristic? Beefing. What is the quality you most like in a man? Humor. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Humor. What do you most value in your friends? Humor. Who are your favorite writers? Tennessee Williams. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? The Scarlet Pimpernel. Who are your heroes in real life? My sons. What are your favorite names? Stephen, Leslie, Sam, Sophie. What is it that you most dislike? My face. How would you like to die? I would not like it. What is your motto? “Do not what I would do unless I tell you to.”

Luise Rainer~Which living person do you most admire? Mandela. Also, artists and painters. I admire people who are creative.

Andre Agassi~What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Waking up one day and not being able to tell the good guys from the bad guys in my life.

WALTER CRONKITE (January 1997) If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A seagull—graceful in flight, rapacious in appetite.~Walter Cronkite If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A seagull—graceful in flight, rapacious in appetite.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Knowing how much I don’t know~Dustin Hoffman

When asked, Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Veruca Salt, Francie Nolan, Miss Havisham. That’s me in a nutshell, actually~Tina Fey

"What trait do you most deplore in others?" Freeloaders with a sense of entitlement-Anthony Hopkins 2010

"What do you consider your greatest achievement?" The miracle of childbirth-Julie Andrews 2008

"What talent would you most like to have?" To write and play music-Martin Scorsese 1993

"What is your greatest fear?" Converting kilometers to miles-David Bowie 1998

Doris Day, April 1995 What is your greatest regret? Most of my marriages.