LOS ANGELES (AP) – She spent a career getting close to showbiz legends then became one herself.
Entertainment-reporting veteran Rona Barrett is sharing that story with live-theater audiences in the one-woman show "Nothing But the Truth," which debuted this weekend at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Calif., and offers a look back at the work and life of one of the media's pioneering women.
Long before there was Oprah, Barrett had her own multimedia empire: newspaper and magazine columns, her own magazine, TV specials.
"There was a real difference between that which we saw on the screen and that which existed inside a person," Barrett said.
"I used to say, 'I have to know who the r-e-a-l is, because I know who the r-e-e-l is."
Barrett got particularly real with Cher in a mid-'70s interview chosen as a career standout by Barrett herself.
"When I went to interview (Cher)," Barrett recalled, "I said, 'Where would you like to do this?' And she said, 'How 'bout my bedroom?' And I said, 'Your bedroom? Fine!' And she jumped on her bed and I sat there, too. And then we had this, just, frank conversation that most people just never had at that time."
Barrett, 73, has been out of the showbiz-reporting game for nearly two decades in 1991 moving to Santa Barbara County and forming the Rona Barrett Lavender Co., a small producer of lavender bath, beauty, food and aromatherapy products.
She now works full time on the Rona Barrett Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the aid and support of senior citizens in need.
Yet she remains very proud of her Hollywood legacy.
"I would think, in my own small way, I was very responsible for opening the doors for many women to come into broadcasting," she said.
"And I think, when looking back, that makes me feel very, very, very good, that I was able to do something for somebody else. Because that's what I'm doing now. It's called payback. People help me be who I am today, and if I can help them, then that's all that I care to do."