BY NARDINE SAAD
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
Legendary singer Johnny Mathis owes a debt of gratitude to former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
The 81-year-old crooner credited Reagan with helping him kick his drinking habit after she saw him overindulging at a reception.
“We were sitting around, you know. I was drinking, and she suggested I might have a problem,” Mathis said in an interview with “CBS This Morning’s” Nancy Giles.
“I said, ‘Probably not, but what do you have in mind?’ And so she sent me to a place called Havre de Grace in Maryland, and I was there with a bunch of Jesuit priests. I had three weeks of finding out why I drank, how I could stop. And it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life.”
Vice was champagne
The influential presidential wife, who championed the fight against drug abuse with her “Just Say No” campaign, died last year of congestive heart failure at 94.
Mathis, who pioneered the greatest-hits album genre and is releasing a collection of contemporary songs produced by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, previously admitted his vice was champagne.
However, he also famously struggled with drug addiction following his dealings with “Dr. Feelgood” Max Jacobson. Jacobson administered so-called vitamin shots that contained amphetamines, which did wonders for Mathis’ ailing voice but left him with a drug addiction.
In the CBS interview, Mathis covers his history with racism, rebounding from losing his home in a 2015 fire and the fallout from coming out in 1982.