'GMA' Family Members Reminisce

Charlie Gibson, "GMA" anchor

We have just finished our 30th anniversary broadcast and I kept thinking during the program of that Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go." With apologies to the good doctor, my thoughts are about "Oh, the Places You Have Been." This broadcast has permitted me to see the world in a way I never expected.

Soon after I assumed David Hartman's seat as host, I found myself in Venice reporting on a meeting of what is now called the G-8 -- the annual summit of the leaders of the large industrialized nations. The city fathers of Venice had closed off the Piazza San Marco for the G-8 meetings, but they let "Good Morning America" set up a stage in the middle of the Piazza and broadcast from there. I thought to myself, "I have one of the most beautiful places in all the world completely to myself. This is going to be some experience!"

And for 18 years, it has been.

Travelling by bus throughout the United States and meeting people in so many towns small and large. Doing "Good Morning America" from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, England, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. What worries me here is I've probably left out a batch of countries.

Whenever there is a issue that grabs the public curiosity -- no matter what it may be -- we talk to the expert on that issue. Whenever a story is at the center of the political spotlight we hash it out on the air. And whenever there is an event that overwhelms our consciousness like 9/11 or the loss of Columbia or hurricane Katrina -- well, we get to sit at the national breakfast table and share the experience with all of you.

What a rare privilege that is. And Oh, the places that does take us.

The second thing I was thinking about this morning are the people. David Hartman and Joan Lunden were back. Spencer Christian came in from San Francisco, and so many family members you didn't see on the air were there. So were many of the off-camera staff on whom we depend totally. I wish there were some way to convey how hard they work, and what a privilege it is to put their work product on the air.

And then there's Diane, Robin and Tony -- three of the best pals you could ask for in the world.

This 30th anniversary was a big darn deal for us. Maybe we'll do it all over again in 2035 when GMA reaches age 60.

Robin Roberts, "GMA" anchor

Wow, can't believe it's been 30 years! I vividly remember watching Charlie, Joan and Spencer. I especially enjoyed the many trips they made "back in the day"? … I felt like I was there with them!

To go from being an avid viewer of "GMA" to being co-host is unbelievable. What a privilege to share my mornings with Charlie, Diane and Tony. Every day is exciting and new.

But the biggest blessing of all … our incredible viewers. You're a big part of the "GMA" family. Thank you for graciously inviting us into your homes for breakfast the last 30 years.

See you in the morning!

Tony Perkins, "GMA" weatherman

On the annivesary show:

What an experience the 30th anniversary show was! This was truly a warm and wonderful morning, and I think -- at least I hope -- that the audience got to feel what a real "family" this team is. It was so great to have the old gang back again. David Hartman, Joan Lunden, Spencer Christian (my man!) and everyone else are such class acts. This show has a special place in the hearts of TV viewers, and it definitely has a special place in my heart. I have been able to make some dreams come true on this job. This has been, and continues to be, a real blessing.

David Hartman, founding host of "Good Morning America"

Favorite memory:

The editorial staff and technical crews were "our work family." For more than 11 years it was a privilege to work with them 12-15 hours most days, sometimes seven days per week. To a person, all were committed to presenting accurate, thoughtful information, in good taste, that viewers could use in constructive ways in their lives. Egos never got in the way of "our mission" to make the program as excellent as we could. My daily sign-off line, "Make it a good day today," reflected "GMA's" values and the belief that each of us can affect our lives in a positive way, that our program was, we hoped, a public service. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have been in "that chair" working with the finest people, personally and professionally, that can be found in our business of television.

Biggest changes:

There is far more pure "entertainment" than during my years, 1975-1987. I can recall only a few very brief musical performances: my duet with Luciano Pavarotti singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," my duet with Miss Piggy (the brilliant Frank Oz) singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and perhaps only a handful of others. Also, there was no cable competition then, only "Today" and "CBS Morning News." Today's program is much faster paced with generally significantly shorter segments and multiple simultaneous images jumping out at us. Our actual newscast portions were much longer than now as well. Morning TV was calmer and quieter then. Because there were no cable networks, only essentially, "GMA" and "Today," these two programs were venues that national and world leaders used to present their views and messages on a regular basis. So, we were frequently "making news" and being quoted in the media until evening news and morning newspapers moved those stories forward. One value, though, remains consistent: that the morning programs are welcomed in homes and hotel rooms across the nation as a pleasant and warm "part of the family."


Haven't a clue, but Charlie, Diane, Robin and Tony are as fine morning hosts as have EVER been on morning TV.

Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC medical contributor

"GMA" has truly been part of my family life for 30 years. I wouldn't have missed a minute of it. I am blessed and grateful.

--Dr. Tim

Jack Hanna, host of "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures," and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo

Favorite memory:

Well, I wish I could remember how many times my animals have defecated on David Hartman, Joan Lunden, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer! In all seriousness -- I have had so many wonderful memories since my first appearance in 1983. Here are a few of the more comical moments:

We were all set to do a live hit about releasing manatees back into the wild, and the manatees got lost and missed the segment. Oops!

Watching Diane Sawyer ride a camel in the NYC studio was a riot!

There must be something in the air -- my animals like to procreate on the "GMA" set. Armadillos, rabbits, insects -- you name it!

And I'll never forget the time we were celebrating the twin gorillas' birthday at the Columbus Zoo. We had a cake for them and instead of picking up the cake -- they picked me up! Things, as you can imagine, got a little out of hand!

The "GMA" family is a fantastic group of passionate people who care about issues affecting not only people all over the world, but also animals and our environment. I've developed long-lasting friendships with my colleagues -- and there is no doubt that I consider "GMA" a part of my family! We've been through a lot together -- and we've had our moments like all families do. After 22 years, I still get energized and excited to share my message with "GMA" and the viewers at home. Thank you!

Marty Becker, 'GMA's' veterinary contributor

Favorite memories:

My favorite moments include a grooming segment when I was holding the anti-shake towel a little too far above the prop-dog. It shook, and to my horror, a wall of water went before my eyes and smacked Diane Sawyer in the face like an ocean wave. I'm sure her hairdresser, Vincent, let out a scream as her perfectly coiffed hair looked more like a drowned rat! Luckily, the dog-drying towel was nearby and I was able to use that to dry Diane off "live" on network TV. Who else has ever had that opportunity?

Another favorite moment is when we were doing a "Dog Choking Hazards" segment and everything, EVERYTHING went wrong -- which can sometimes make a perfect, memorable segment. For four-legged talent, we had a male labrador retriever and a male Jack Russell terrier. When we rehearsed, it was evident they had more than just eyes for each other. My producer, Patty Neger, made sure they went to separate green rooms so as not to become too "familiar" with each other. Next thing you know, it's time for the live segment and Charlie and I have the terrier on the counter.

Almost instantly, the Jack made eye contact with his boyfriend the lab and began writhing in my arms like a fish out of water. I didn't know what to do and handed the dog to Diane behind me so that I could soldier on with Charlie and get the points covered that my producer had drilled into my head. Diane couldn't control the dog either and set him down on the floor, where he immediately spun out, got traction, and ran over and started humping the lab in front of a live studio audience. I stole a glance when I heard the gales of laughter and there was beet-red Diane trying to pull the mechanical terrier off of the Lab. Lucky for her, the owner submarined behind Charlie and me and assisted Diane with the extrication.

Later, I was supposed to demo doing a Heimlich on a choking dog. The owner, who had presence of mind (I was supposed to be holding the Jack Russell the whole time as I moved down the counter), conveniently handed me the dog just after I said something like, "If your dog is choking and it's a large dog, you need to get behind it on the floor and get ready to perform a Heimlich. If it's a small dog, you put it up on a table or counter" -- she hands me the dog here -- "tip it up in the air, put your arms around its chest, and pull tightly." Again, I heard gales of laughter from the studio audience and saw that the camera operators had all left their cameras laughing. When I looked into the studio monitor I saw why everyone was howling. Seems the Jack Russell terrier, was -- ahem -- aroused, and millions of people saw something very unexpected and X-rated in the animal world as they prepared for their day. Diane, in the background was finding a new shade of red.

As if things couldn't get any worse, at the end of the segment Charlie asks, "Marty, what is the number one thing dogs choke on?" I replied, "I was hoping you wouldn't ask me that, Charlie. It's women's panties." The audience let out a roar of laughter, Diane found an even deeper shade of red and Charlie was speechless. In what seemed like an eternity of silence during which time Charlie looked to the heavens, scratched his face, grimaced and giggled. He finally gathered himself, looked around me to Diane and said, "Diane, is that what was going on back there?!" I've NEVER seen Diane so red, heard so much genuine laughter, nor had a more genuine, memorable, unpredictable animal moment.

Tory Johnson, "GMA" workplace contributor

What she loves about her job:

I am honored to be the workplace contributor for "GMA," not just because I get to work with Diane, Charlie, Robin and the entire GMA family, but because nothing beats getting an e-mail or letter from a viewer who says that a nugget of advice we provided made a big difference in her job search or career advancement.

Dr. David Katz, "GMA" medical contributor

First, my thoughts on joining the "GMA" family. It is altogether extraordinary. When you think about joining a family, it's usually by birth or marriage. Either way, you don't suddenly find yourself conjoined to people you've long known as national icons. But with "GMA," that's just how it is -- Diane, Charlie and Robin are icons, household names, a part of the fabric of America. One day, they are celebrities you know on a TV screen -- and then -- they welcome you into the family that is "GMA." What a uniquely thrilling, exhilarating, privileged transition that is! The whole "GMA" team really does feel like family to me -- and I am so proud to be a part.

Favorite memories:

Sorting out bad cereals from good with Robin in Bryant Park, with Ringo Starr milling around in the background!

My first live interview with Charlie, when I discovered that after hours of prepping with producers and writers to get the script just right, Charlie simply ignored the script and asked what he actually wanted to know.

Coming in to TSS (Time Square Studio) in the blizzard of '05 in a limo that was all over the road to do a segment with Kate Snow (aptly named!) on beverages.

Just last week -- talking about "C-Tucks" and post-pregnancy weight loss with Diane, with my wife making a cameo appearance.

There was also the Katrina Town Hall meeting with Bill and Charlie.

Robin, me and the refrigerator on food storage.

Discussing calorie-restricted diets with Diane and a guest who looked like a gust of wind would blow her out the window.

I think, in summary, every moment on "GMA" is memorable!