Tonight’s E:60 includes “final” interview with Morganna The Kissing Bandit

It was one of the coolest phone calls I had received in my career to date.
E:60 feature producer Martin Khodabakhshian on receiving a call from the reclusive Morganna

Once upon a time, Morganna The Kissing Bandit commanded the 1970s and 1980s’ pop culture spotlight by running onto Major League Baseball fields during games to kiss players. In the late 1990s, she disappeared from the radar. Now, after 15 years of silence, Morganna provides an exclusive – and she says “final” – interview with E:60’s Wright Thompson.

Tonight’s fall premiere of E:60 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) includes Part 1 of the nine-minute feature version of “Morganna: The Kissing Bandit,” the story of one of the sports world’s most intriguing characters. It aired originally as a 30-minute piece on Sept. 26 and will soon re-air as anE:60 Pictures film.

Galaxy of stars interviewed

As the trailer for the E:60 interview can attest, the producers interviewed plenty of celebrities for this profile, Martin Khodabakhshian said.

“We interviewed Pete Rose, George Brett, Pat Sajak, The Famous San Diego Chicken, Don Mattingly, Craig Sager, Steve Yeager, Hoby Brenner – the only NFL player to be kissed – Benny DiStephano (whom she kissed at the Triple A All-Star Game) – and Curry Kirkpatrick, who wrote a Playboy story on her in 1989,” among others.

Who declined? “Her husband [of 31 years] did not want to be interviewed. Trust me, I tried,” Khodabakhshian said. “Several others passed including Nolan Ryan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnny Bench.”

Emmy-winning E:60 feature producer Martin Khodabakhshian provides background on the piece and explains why Morganna, 62, chose to do her last interview with ESPN’s E:60.

How did the idea for this piece come about?
I met Morganna’s contact, Jon Terry, in 2005 while producing a piece for another one of his clients [super fan Krazy George, for the “Anniversary of the Wave”] and he suggested she might be a good topic for a piece. He warned me that she had retired in 1999 and had been declining interviews since then – and that’s when the chase began. I contacted Morganna via Jon every couple years since then, and every time he would say she had respectfully declined – until this past year, when she finally agreed to an interview.

Why did she come out of hiding for ESPN?
I was respectful in my pursuit – I sent her links of my work rather than showing up on her doorstep unannounced. I think that approach combined with her decision to do one last interview led to where we are now. It was one of the coolest phone calls I had received in my career to date. Knowing dozens of reporters sought her out and for her come out of retirement and decide to do an interview with us – I feel blessed and honored.

What do you think viewers will find most interesting about her?
How down to earth, sister-like, funny, sweet, cool and strong she is – especially because of her terrible and dark childhood, and surviving as a homeless teen as well as the underbelly of the exotic dancing world [she was part of]. We have developed a bond I would have never have imagined.

How did the reality of interviewing Morganna compare to expectations?
It was far beyond what I could have imagined. She was so open, so candid, so real. . . and didn’t hide her vulnerability.


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