Diane Sawyer opened the long-awaited, revealing, “tell all” one-one-one “Bruce Jenner — The Interview” with this statement. One generation will have come to know him as winning the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics, the other as a reality TV star in the 21st century. The two-hour ABC “20/20” TV special Friday night saw someone living a secret virtually all of his life since childhood. It wasn’t easy for Jenner growing up in the Eisenhower era with no internet, no support groups of any kind. The only transgender celebrity at that time was Christine Jorgensen (formerly George William Jorgensen, Jr.).
Just prior to the 1976 Summer Olympics, Baby boomers may remember a groundbreaking episode from the television series “Medical Center.” It was about a man wanting the lead character, Dr. Joe Gannon, to perform an SRS, as Jenner referred to it as sexual reassignment surgery. What made this particular storyline from the mid-1970s especially memorable was its guest star. The actor portraying a man very much in Jenner’s situation was none other than Robert Reed, whose best known as the father on “The Brady Bunch.”
During the interview viewers were treated to an extensive look at Jenner’s extraordinary athletic triumph during the decathlon’s 10 events. When he threw a javelin it almost went completely out of an enormous circle. An unforgettable scene was showing Jenner as cool, calm, and collected while all the other Olympians were passed out from the final event, the 1,500 metres run. Bruce was running his victory lap as if it was only the first day. He told Diane that God gave him extraordinary athletic abilities, keen intelligence, and charm with the beautiful ladies. However, there will be one lifelong major issue to deal with, having a female soul trapped in a male body.
During his three marriages he revealed to his wives about cross-dressing and a desire to be female. They were accepting at first and hoped he’d change. The latter, Jenner mentioned, wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t like taking some aspirin and all will be well, he said. In the 1980s he began taking hormones for five years, which dramatically changed his appearance. It was in the late 1980s he met Kris Kardashian (later to be Jenner). At this point in his life, he was basically a washed-up sports celebrity. She turned his life around by eventually taking non-scripted reality TV to a whole new level.
From the television series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” many viewers know about Bruce’s sons from a previous marriage and his two daughters with Kris. We were introduced to his first-born son and daughter from his first marriage during the post-Olympic years. They are extremely supportive of their father, unlike the turmoil from his blended family with Kris’ daughters. Rob Kardashian did not give any statement.
Kimberly, as Bruce refers to his superstar step-daughter, is completely accepting. Even her husband Kanye West had some encouraging words. Jenner’s oldest sister was someone he was able to turn to with his dark secret (at the time). She later cried over the news. In closing, Bruce’s dear mother had a beautiful statement for her son. She is very proud of him. Jenner told Diane let’s do this again a year from now. This was his last televised interview given as the male Bruce Jenner.