(NEW YORK) — Sixty-seven years of marriage all began with a waltz. That’s what former president George H. W. Bush said in a new HBO documentary simply titled 41 about his own life, in his own words.
But it turns out when the 41st president “somehow” got up the nerve to ask then Barbara Pierce to dance at a holiday party, he didn’t know how to waltz. So they talked instead and he asked her out the next day.
It was stories like this that attracted longtime friend Jerry Weintraub to the project. He is the executive producer of the film, which will be released to coincide with Bush’s 88th birthday next week.
“It shows him as a man. It’s not just a documentary about a president. It’s not him making big speeches and out there rallying the troops and so on and so forth. It’s about his life,” Weintraub told ABC’s Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos.
The two men have been friends for close to 50 years and Weintraub has a house near Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“I’ve known his family for a very long time. It comes from them. They would never let him be a bragger. And they’d never let him go out and say ‘Listen, I’m the greatest,’” Weintraub said. “He worked his way up and I think he was the most prepared man that we ever had in our country to become president of the United States because he worked at underling jobs.”
Those jobs included ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee and director of the CIA.
Bush never wrote an autobiography about his time as president, so this documentary is in some way his verbal memoir. And he opens up about personal moments, such as when his son was sworn in as president.
“Very emotional for me. Very proud father. First time it’s happened, I guess, in the history of our country except for the Adams’. But it was mind boggling, it was enormous and a source of great pride for the family,” Bush says in the film.
Both father and son were on hand at the unveiling of former president George W. Bush’s portrait at the White House last week. The elder Bush was in a wheelchair and Weintraub described his health as “not doing great” but “not terrible” either.
“He’s a very active guy. When you get Parkinson’s and all of a sudden you’re riding around in a wheelchair and this and that, he can’t do things himself,” Weintraub said.
“It’s tough, but he can handle it because he’s had so much good in his life. And he has his family around him and everything about him is family,” he added.
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