Pop icon Pat Boone's 60-year career was the focus of a livestreamed discussion with The Heritage Foundation on Wednesday. Boone, 81, spoke to FOX411 afterwards about being shunned by some in Hollywood for his conservative values, and also gave his GOP picks for president.
FOX411: So how does someone go about having a 60-year career?
Pat Boone: I call myself fortunate, but when you get down to it, I feel blessed. I’m the oldest of four kids and I guess sometimes the eldest gets a few breaks, and I did growing up around Nashville, Tennessee. I was singing all over town because I liked to. I wasn’t thinking of a career. I didn’t think that was possible, but it led to winning a couple of national talent contests and a recording contract. The first record was a million seller. For the next 220 weeks, the record I hold in the record business, I was never off the single charts; every week for over four years with probably two records at the same time – with one record going down and the other going up. The Beatles didn’t do that. Elvis didn’t do that.
FOX411: You have been outspoken about your political and religious beliefs over the years and caught some flak for it. How have you handled that?
Boone: I realize that not everyone is going to agree with me and I don’t expect them to. I just ask that I have the freedom to say what I really believe and not in a in your face way; a thoughtful way. Hopefully, sometimes in a humorous way and then stand and listen to what the other people have to say. And agree that even if we disagree we can, like Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan, be friends anyway even if we disagree politically or religiously, or even morally, that each of us is entitled to his own or her own beliefs and standards.
You know over the years I have many Hollywood types say, you know I used to make fun of you, so I thought you were a square and you were out of it, kind of "hothouse plants, Mr. Goody Two-Shoes," but you kept your marriage together for now 61 years, you’re still singing after Elvis has been gone 35 years, you’re still here, you’re still performing, you’re healthy, you play singles tennis I guess you must have figured something right.
FOX411: Was there a time when you worried your beliefs could hurt your career? Have they ever?
Boone: Well, sure. There were movies I was passed over because of the more liberal, not to say the socialist views of the producers and writers – whatever. I long ago came off the A-list to be invited to some of the Hollywood soirees and parties which I was not anxious to attend anyway, but the jokes that I’ve always enjoyed and even repeated, like Dean Martin who said, “You know that Pat Boone he’s so religious. I shook hands with that boy the other day and my whole right side sobered up.” And Phil Harris said, “You know Pat we kid you, we love you but if I ever had a son I want him to be just like Pat Boone until he’s about three years old.” I see some humor in the fact I live a different lifestyle than most of my friends in Hollywood but I see their marriages break up, I see bankruptcy, I see nervous breakdowns, drug deaths – all kinds of things that I have not been fazed by. I don’t judge other people if they want to go another way, but I’m happy to promote my way of life because it’s worked.
FOX411: Donald Trump entered the GOP race yesterday – bringing the number of candidates to 12. Do you have an early favorite?
Boone: There are two or three that I really like. I’m a longtime friend of Mike Huckabee’s and I know he’s a two term governor in a Democrat state. He was a Republican who got things done by working out the partnerships and compromises, but cueing to a more conservative line. I like Scott Walker. I like Jeb Bush. I like Marc Rubio. I like a lot of the guys. Donald Trump, I like him. I call him a friend and I think he calls me a friend as well. He’s probably going to step on a few toes and turn some people off but what I love about him is he’s going to say what Donald Trump believes and that is so refreshing.