I'm not much for watching golf on TV, but something happened this weekend that endeared me to the sport. Just moments after links veteran Phil Mickelson sank his final putt to win his first ever British Open title, his caddie of more than two decades, Jim Mackay, fell into the new champion's arms and burst into tears.
"You work for a guy 21 years," Mackay later explained to a reporter, "it's pretty cool when you see him play the best round of golf you've ever seen him play." And then he cried some more.
And, watching him, so did I.
Like most actors, I've gotten emotional on the job, but that's what we do in the process of living a character's life.
So I find myself very moved whenever I see someone shed tears in the course of their work. Who didn't cry along with Today show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, when her eyes misted up while interviewing her grandparents, George and Barbara, about the love letters they once sent to one another? Whose heart didn't break along with Jon Stewart's, when, returning to the air for the first time after the 9/11 attacks, the ordinarily jocular host delivered an extemporaneous nine-minute commentary that culminated in sobs?
Crying lets us know that there's a living, breathing person inside -- and that's always a good thing .
"It's all right to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you.
It's all right to cry.
It might make you feel better."
--Rosie Grier, on the recording of "Free to Be...You and Me"
Politicians have had a complicated history with crying, which at one time could tank a career. Edmund Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign fell apart when the candidate began to cry while defending his wife from an attack ad during an outdoor press conference in a snowstorm. (Muskie claimed that the tears were just melted snowflakes. That didn't fly with the voters, but I've always sympathized with him.) And Pat Shroeder caught flak for getting weepy while announcing she would not run for President in 1987.
But all of that has changed. When Hillary Clinton choked up during her 2008 presidential campaign, after a reporter asked her how she endures the rigors of politics, the publuic saw a human side of Hillary they hadn't seen before and she won legions of new supporters. And President Obama has welled up on several occasions since taking office, whether he was speaking as a grieving fellow parent after the Newtown tragedy; or surrendering tears of pride to his young campaign staff after his triumphant 2012 reelection. In both instances, he brought his high office down to earth.
And, btw, when doesn't John Boehner cry?
Granted, there are some jobs where crying would make me nervous. If a waiter weeps while serving me my soup, I'd be tempted to ask, "Was it something you ate? Or that I ate?" And I once actually had a flight attendant on a trip to L.A. who walked out of the cockpit, strapped herself into her seat and begin bawling. I never found out what the problem was; I was too scared to ask.
But as a rule, I'm all for keeping the tears coming, even if you're on the job. As long as you eventually pull it together, it's a good and healthy thing to do. As Golda Meir once said, "Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."
One of the earliest displays of true emotion on television occurred on November 22, 1963, when CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite, had to deliver the news to the nation that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated that day in Dallas. Removing his glasses, glancing at the wall clock, and swallowing hard, Cronkite recited the official time of death then confirmed the assassination to a stunned America. It took him a moment to regain his composure.
During his 1972 presidential campaign, Maine senator Edmund Music was targeted with attacks by the opposition, claiming that he had made remarks critical of French-Canadians, and that his wife used foul language and drank on the campaign trail. He defended his spouse in an impromptu outdoor press conference during a snow storm, and his eyes filled with tears -- which, afterwards, he unconvincingly claimed were melted snowflakes. Although the attacks would later be identified as part of opponent Richard Nixon's "dirty tricks" strategy, the incident gave the impression that Muskie was weak in the face of attack, and his campaign soon ended.
During a Valentine’s Day segment in 2011, TODAY Show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager interviewed her grandparents -- Barbara and former President George H.W. Bush -- about their long and rich marriage. At one point during the interview, the senior Bush broke down while reading a love letter he’d sent to Barbara when they were younger; and when the camera cut back to Jenna, tears were streaming down her face, as well.
In the 2008 presidential primaries in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton made headlines when she choked up at a campaign stop explaining how the election was very personal for her. It was a side of her that not many in the public had seen, and it resulted in a boost for her campaign.
When the Daily Show returned to the air after the tragic events of 9/11, Jon Stewart gave an impromptu and very moving commentary that lasted nearly nine minutes and caused him to break down more than once. It also left few dry eyes in the studio, or in the nationwide audience watching at home.
In 2002, Halle Berry won an Academy Award for her searing performance in "Monster's Ball," becoming the first black actress to win an Oscar for a leading role. When she took to the stage, she was overcome with emotion and had difficulty getting through her acceptance speech as she tearfully accepted the award on behalf of other black female artists of the past -- adding, “And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”
Basketball legend Michael Jordan has often been overcome with emotion during his landmark career, but perhaps his most memorable tears were shed in 1996, after his Chicago Bulls won the NBA Finals. The game was played on Father’s Day, and it was Jordan’s first championship since his own father’s murder three years earlier. As he sprawled on the locker room floor to the sound of cheering fans, sportscaster Marv Albert summarized the scene simply: “An emotional moment for Michael Jordan,” he said.
On December 14, 2012, President Obama delivered a statement after the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Addressing the press, he spoke not only as President, but also as the father of two young girls, and it was clear that he was genuinely moved by the enormity of the sadness surrounding the tragedy.
Who says big guys don't cry? Athletes are often emotional types and the amount of hard work, passion and effort they put into the game can sometimes result in a flood of unexpected emotions when the results don't go their way. Tim Tebow is one athlete who wears his emotions on his sleeve. Here he is crying after a team loss.
He made the movie "Tootsie" thirty years ago, but in this 2012 interview with the American Film Institute, which recently went viral, Dustin Hoffman still got choked up discussing the revelations he had while making the film about how society treats women. When the actor first saw himself in drag, he says, he was hugely disappointed to realize that did not measure up to society's often random standards of beauty, and it genuinely hurt him. It also made him think of all the women he may have missed getting to know because he had evaluated them in superficial ways. When his eyes were opened, they filled with tears.
After carrying the expectations of the nation on his shoulders in the Wimbledon final of 2012, Brit Andy Murray was unable to control his emotions during the award ceremony when presented with the runner-up trophy -- and the tears flowed. But the moment seemed to have a magical effect, as he immediately went on to win Olympic gold and the US Open later that summer. This year, he finally won Wimbledon, too.
House Speaker John Boehner has been overcome by his emotions in public on many occasions, much to the delight of op-ed columnists and late-night monologists, who have made hay of the Speaker’s easily triggered tear ducts. Here he weeps again, as Nancy Pelosi addresses the opening session of the 112th Congress in 2010.
While promoting his film, "Silver Linings Playbook," Robert De Niro was moved to tears during an interview on Katie Couric's show, explaining that the subject matter of the film was very close to his heart. The film's director, David O. Russell, had revealed that his own son suffered from bipolar disorder just as Bradley Cooper's character in the film does. When asked about the premise of the film, De Niro choked up and said, "I don't like to get emotional, but I know exactly what he goes through." It was a reference to his own son's struggles.
After golf veteran Phil Mickelson finally won the British Open in July 2013, it was his longtime caddie who felt the floodgates open unexpectedly, as he embraced the champion golfer. The following day, newspapers ran photos of the touching moment alongside the stories about Mickelson’s historic win. It was a lovely moment between two friends who had obviously shared a dream for 21 years.
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