July 28th, 2014
04:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama admits boyhood crush on Linda Ronstadt

Washington (CNN) – During an awards ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama whispered in the ear of superstar musician Linda Ronstadt that he once had a crush on her.

The President admitted to the crowd afterwards that, "I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day " Ronstadt joined Obama on stage, along with 11 other recipients of the 2013 National Medal of Arts.

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No word from the singer of such hits as "You're no good,"  "Desperado," "It's so easy," and "Blue Bayou," on what she said back to the President.

Obama also thanked NPR Radio talk show host Diane Rehm, another Medal of Arts winner, for interviewing him when he was a struggling writer, and long before he was President.

"I've been personally touched by all sorts of these folks. " Adding, "I know all of you have been touched similarly by all of these amazing people. We are very grateful to you."

The National Endowment of the Arts, which manages the awards, says "The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government. It is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States."

Mr. Obama says all of the honorees have brought the world, "Moments of understanding or awe or joy or sorrow, they add texture to our lives. They are not incidental to the American experience, they are central to it. They are essential to it. So we not only congratulate you this afternoon, we thank you for an extraordinary lifetime of achievement."

The White House released this list of all of 2013's honorees:

Julia Alvarez, novelist, poet, and essayist, for her extraordinary storytelling. In poetry and in prose, Ms. Alvarez explores themes of identity, family, and cultural divides. She illustrates the complexity of navigating two worlds and reveals the human capacity for strength in the face of oppression.

Brooklyn Academy of Music, presenter, for innovative contributions to the performing and visual arts. For over 150 years, BAM has showcased the works of both established visionaries and emerging artists who take risks and push boundaries.

Joan Harris, arts patron, for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country. Her decades of leadership and generosity have enriched our cultural life and helped countless artists, dancers, singers, and musicians bring their talents to center stage.

Bill T. Jones, dancer and choreographer, for his contributions as a dancer and choreographer. Renowned for provocative performances that blend an eclectic mix of modern and traditional dance, Mr. Jones creates works that challenge us to confront tough subjects and inspire us to greater heights.

John Kander, musical theater composer, for his contributions as a composer. For more than half a century, Mr. Kander has enlivened Broadway, television, and film through songs that evoke romanticism and wonder and capture moral dilemmas that persist across generations.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, director and CEO of DreamWorks, for lighting up our screens and opening our hearts through animation and cinema. Mr. Katzenberg has embraced new technology to develop the art of storytelling and transform the way we experience film.

Maxine Hong Kingston, writer, for her contributions as a writer. Her novels and non-fiction have examined how the past influences our present, and her voice has strengthened our understanding of Asian American identity, helping shape our national conversation about culture, gender, and race.

Albert Maysles, documentary filmmaker, for rethinking and remaking documentary film in America. One of the pioneers of direct cinema, he has offered authentic depictions of people and communities across the globe for nearly 60 years. By capturing raw emotions and representations, his work reflects the unfiltered truths of our shared humanity.

Linda Ronstadt, musician, for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music. Drawing from a broad range of influences, Ms. Ronstadt defied expectations to conquer American radio waves and help pave the way for generations of women artists.

Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, architects (receiving individual medals), for their contributions to architecture and arts education. Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions.

James Turrell, visual artist, recognized for his groundbreaking visual art. Capturing the powers of light and space, Mr. Turrell builds experiences that force us to question reality, challenging our perceptions not only of art, but also of the world around us.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. TheThinker1958

    Obama might not be great as a President, but the option of putting a wanna be-lunatic guy from the right in the White House is worst. Red states are not expanding medicaid and people without health insurance is increasing, and they have the nerves to say that "it is Obamacare's fault"... what? how can they say that. I can only guess that the American people are super bad inform because they wouldn't vote Republican ever again if they knew what is going on with their own Politicians.

    July 29, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. cg

    Oh please the guy probably didn't hear any other kind of music in his home.Americans shut up and do something for the country, any country! But please stop opening your mouth.

    July 29, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. aaron

    I'd hate to see the abnormal person in normal person's family.

    July 29, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. geno marcello

    What class! The PRESIDENT of the United States comes onto a former rock star at a public function and whispers to her, 'I once had the hots for you.' Why didn't he tell his wife, Michelle, rather than Linda Ronstad? Does Obama think he's John F. Kennedy and that Linda is there to sing, 'Happy Birthday, Mr. President' to him?

    July 29, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. geno marcello

    This is just more proof that Barack Obama lacks class. A comment like that isn't something you whisper to a former rock star at a public function. He could have told it to his wife, Michelle, but not Linda Ronstadt. Does Obama think he is John F. Kennedy and Linda is there to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PRESIDENT to him?

    July 29, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Andrew

    why is this on CNN? I dont care who Obama had a crush on 40 years ago.

    July 29, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Gail

    True there are horrible problems to solve and President Obama is certainly not ignoring them...But it is still important to take time for beauty. It allows perspective and humanity.

    July 29, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Truth

    CNN News:
    Obama admits boyhood crush
    Fore! Pardon the president's slice

    Is there any doubt that CNN is a Democrat favored organization?

    July 29, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. Steve

    Obama is the "photo Op" president. I am beginning to think he is just the mouthpiece and someone else is running the show. Valerie and others.

    July 29, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    I don't know about unamerican,
    Oh please, don't be modest.

    July 29, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. carol

    This is what this "Rock Star" President will be remembered for, never ending photo ops with the famous; numerous vacations abroad and domestic, oh and that joke of a Nobel Peace Prize, which was probably just a congratulatory gift for being elected the country's first black leader. No hate here, just immense sadness at what this Country has become under his "Leadership", and I fear, there will be more debasement, before its over.

    Before this President, I was a working, middle-class Democrat, but no more. Independence is the only choice for me!

    July 29, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Adam

    What a dumb article. I can't believe the president is wasting his time telling us who he has a crush on. He's so not presidential. When bad things happen in the world, past presidents would focus on those bad things, eliminating their vacations and not participating in fluff pieces like this.

    Secondly, why is CNN making this such a prominent story? I hate CNN and their ratings are terrible, so why do they keep showing me this crap every day I come here to read real news? Obama's been a terrible president, worst ever, where are the articles confirming what we all already know?

    -Joe Dirt

    July 29, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Cin99

    2 Terms, and you still are not over the election. Prez has proven time and again he can handle many many issues as once. Enough already of this hate for this compassionate man. Unlike the last President, he has his heart in the right place and truly cares about the American people. No one is perfect, but he is sooooo much better than the last one. Enough said.

    July 29, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. Eric

    This is why CNN's ratings are in the tank. For stories like this one.

    July 29, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. oldguy68

    War in Gaza, Ukraine , Syria. The US borders are a sieve and this is a national news story????

    July 29, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. mrl

    so glad this president is focused on the important things this country is facing right now... can't wait for his action today on granting 5M illegals amnesty with his "pen" so that we can all feel the lowered wage hit to our pockets for the next decade (per his own Office of Budget).

    July 29, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Greg

    Good for the President! It proves he is as normal as the next guy and that he has good taste. I've had a crush on Linda Ronstadt and her talent all of my life.

    July 29, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Rudy NYC


    War in Gaza, Ukraine , Syria. The US borders are a sieve and this is a national news story????
    The borders are not a sieve. The border issue will rise to the top of the news cycle if and when the House votes on it.

    July 29, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Mr. Obama? Really? Not President Obama? Smh...

    July 29, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. McBob79

    Maybe he can get back to work as the world is falling apart.

    July 29, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. sly

    "War in Gaza, Ukraine , Syria. The US borders are a sieve and this is a national news story????"
    Yeah old guy, since there are such tremendous, unusual problems in the world today, we should never read anything, or think anything, except about the Civil Wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

    Folks, we're stopping major league baseball, suspending all Corporate activities, cancelling all movies, and removing all funny pages from newspapers.

    Immediately, we will end all television shows, except for the Russian News and BBC.

    And, effective immediately, EVERYONE stop smiling, laughing and talking about anything but what Old Guy wants to know about.

    Old guy, you sound like a typical, jealous, poor loser Republican. If you want to write the news, try winning some election some day.

    July 29, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    geno marcello says:
    July 29, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am
    What class! The PRESIDENT of the United States comes onto a former rock star at a public function and whispers to her, ‘I once had the hots for you.’ Why didn’t he tell his wife, Michelle, rather than Linda Ronstad? Does Obama think he’s John F. Kennedy and that Linda is there to sing, ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ to him?

    Petty and jealous. Do you think Michelle cares about him having a crush on Linda Ronstadt when he was young? As for Kennedy, I hate to tell you President Obama is a much better man than he ever was. At least he isn't having affairs right under her nose with a B actress. And in the WH. But none of you that criticize him daily would ever admit that.

    July 29, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. carol

    Uh, Lily, she happens to have Parkinsons', hence no more singing (a crime not to hear that great voice, live again), now has great difficulty walking (uses a wheelchair), with more degeneration to follow. So, not so great looking anymore...hardly a surprise, give the woman a break!

    July 29, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Durty

    Obama has so many issues to deal with, most of his own making, and has the lowest Presidential approval rating in over 35 years. Yet this article caters to the minority of people who still like him & would find this interesting. CNN needs figure out what America cares about and put their efforts to covering that news.

    July 29, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Metron

    She is a Republican hating Democrat. No wonder Obama has a crush on her. The Devil hates Republicans also. So does Obama.

    July 29, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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