Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Catching Up with Hector Ramirez

Note: In our effort to explore the rich legacy of television history, we often mine all sorts of vintage material. While doing research for this episode, I stumbled on this profile from People magazine by author Tracy Hollister dated March 1985. We reprint an excerpt here without permission:

Hector Ramirez has been called America's most dashing newsman, its boldest reporter, and its sexiest journalist. But that's not all he told me he has been called. Despite what he describes as an "insane" schedule, Hector agreed to meet with me at an L.A. restaurant after begging me not to reveal the details. "There are so few places I can go these days," he confided, "without being mobbed."

When I met him at our table, Hector was committed to going incognito with a relaxed look--khakis, white collared shirt opened several buttons, and a tasteful chest medallion atop a luxurious thatch of visible chest hair. He peered over his giant sunglasses and quickly rose to greet me.

"Hi, Ms. Hollister.  Sorry for all the cloak and dagger, but I don't think we could get much done otherwise."

He paused and looked around the room as diners chatted and drank. Did they realize the nation's rising media star was inches away? Was this jaded SoCal crowd pretending to be unfazed?

"I wouldn't want to be recognized," Hector said as he graciously pulled my chair out for me. Before he sat down, he repeated it, a little louder. "I say, I wouldn't want to be recognized."

We made small talk before the waiter arrived with menus. "I'll have the surf and turf, my good man," he said, and motioned to me. "And the lady will have--"

Our garrulous garcon interrupted. "We don't have surf and turf here, buddy. I'd urge you to take a look at the menu." They get more and more brassy every year, kids!

Hector, as cool, calm, and collected as he is every Friday on Twenty Questions, lowered his sunglasses and his voice as he addressed the impudent waiter while trying not to embarrass him. "Are you SURE, pal?"

An unfortunate reality of life on the Left Coast is that for every starstruck yokel clamoring for an autograph from a real star, there's a cynic waiting to try to "cut him down to size." In the interest of time, let's just say Hector and I settled for hamburgers and got down to business.

"Tracy--Can I call you Tracy?" (Just between you and me, he could have called me Melvin!)

"I want to give you a real scoop--You know, one reporter to another?" (I try to be professional, but I admit my pulse quickened at the way he leaned over the table!)

"I'm working on something big--REAL big.  Bigger even than my Gargamel exclusive." (If he didn't have my attention before--and he certainly did in those tight khakis--he did now. The Gargamel interview made Twenty Questions the highest-rated show of the week when it aired last November, and the fact that Hector got the old grouch to cry meant it was still a story months later.)

"I can't say too much now, but it's huge. The military-industrial complex. That's all I can tell you."

I had to confess I was intrigued. But was that really all he could tease?

"Well, we could talk about it a little more after dinner," he cooed.

(For the rest of the interview, check the March 11, 1985 issue with Madonna on the cover)

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