IN THE FIRST TELEVISION PROFILE HE HAS AGREED TO,
NEIL ARMSTRONG SAYS HE DOESN'T DESERVE THE CELEBRITY THAT COMES WITH BEING THE FIRST MAN ON THE MOON -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
The man who will be forever famous as the first to step foot on the moon says he doesn't deserve that fame. Neil Armstrong talks to Ed Bradley in the first television profile he's ever agreed to do, revealing his personal feelings about Apollo 11, his family and the fame he shuns. It will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Nov. 6 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"I don't deserve [attention for being the first man on the moon because] I wasn't chosen to be first," says Armstrong, visibly uncomfortable. "I was just chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role. That wasn't planned by anyone," he says.
One of the disappointing parts of celebrity, says Armstrong, was the difference in the way he says he was treated after the historic landing. "Friends and colleagues -- all of a sudden -- looked at us, treated us differently than they had months or years before when we were working together," he says. "I never quite understood that."
Another result of his career as a test pilot and astronaut was the toll it took on his family. "The one thing I regret was that my work required an enormous amount of my time and a lot of travel," he tells Bradley, "and I didn't get to spend the time I would have liked with my family as they grew up." Armstrong had two sons with his wife of 38 years, Janet, from whom he was divorced in 1994.
He also had a 2-year-old daughter, Karen, who died in 1962 of brain cancer, a tragedy that he tried to keep from affecting his work. "I thought the best thing for me to do in that situation was to continue with my work, keep things as normal as I could," says Armstrong, "�not to have it affect my ability to do useful things."
Armstrong was so focused on his work, he rarely took a break, even the day he was nearly killed when he was forced to eject from an experimental lunar-landing craft too close to the ground -- a narrow escape that could have resulted in his death. "Yeah, probably would have [been killed]," says Armstrong. Bradley then asks if it was true that he returned to his office to do paperwork afterward. " I did -- there was work to be done," he tells Bradley.
Armstrong has a new authorized biography titled, First Man; it is published by Simon & Schuster, which, like CBS, is a Viacom company.