Beth Littleford on Munchkins, David Cassidy, and why she could take Connie Chung in a catfight

By Liane Bonin
Updated August 16, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Wayne Stambler

As the deceptively sweet Barbara Walters satirist on ”The Daily Show,” Beth Littleford asks celebs the really tough questions Babs tends to fluff. She’s pressed Fabio to reveal what kind of meat he would be (answer: T-bone), charmed former KKK leader David Duke into giving his tip on removing stains from white sheets (answer: Clorox), and made David Cassidy snarl (but more on that later). Lately she’s also been turning up on network TV (”Spin City”) and in movies (this fall’s ”Mystery, Alaska”). Recently EW Online turned the tables on Littleford and asked a few questions of our own.

HER TOUGHEST ASSIGNMENT ”Interviewing David Cassidy was the one time when I really came close to saying, ‘Okay, let’s stop now, just kidding! Forget it!”’ says Littleford. Apparently Cassidy tried to play along with her questions at first, but queries about the Partridge family and the size of his manhood irked him so much he threatened to walk. ”My face was on fire,” says Littleford. ”I was in a flop sweat.” Cassidy toughed it out, and producers decided to use the footage Littleford describes as ”horrifying, yet riveting.” Still, she says, ”I kind of liked him in the end.”

FAN FARE Following what has become infamously known as ”the pig masturbater show” after she, uh, lent a hand while visiting a swine farm, the Florida native returned home for Christmas. ”I was at a party and a church lady friend of my mother’s had seen the show. She flipped out on me, yelling ‘What were you DOING? What have you DONE to your MOTHER?”’ recalls the ersatz reporter. ”I’m trying to tell her, ‘These are farmers, goddammit, this is their livelihood!’ and I’m spitting cheesecake on her while she’s screaming, ‘Stop spitting on me!’ It was a horrible scene. My mother still spends some time explaining to people, ‘Beth’s just acting, she’s not as nasty as she seems.”’

GUILTY PLEASURES Just as Barbara Walters must feel a twinge of guilt over making Patrick Swayze cry on national television, Littleford has some regrets of her own.”The only piece I ever felt really bad about and lost some sleep over was the Munchkins, because I loved them so, so very much,” says Littleford. Thanks to time constraints, her glowing assessment of the little people was edited down to ”The Munchkins: Little, old, deaf.” Littleford, who met her husband, former ”Daily Show” supervising producer Rob Fox, while working on the show, was furious. And she let her second-in-command spouse know about it. ”I wouldn’t forgive him for a while for that,” she says.

CRUEL TO BE KIND Littleford’s on-screen persona may be sinisterly sweet, but the actress insists she’s really good at heart. ”People don’t really believe I’m a nice person, but I have to be, swear to God.” She points out that bonding with her interview subjects is key to keeping them from storming off. Littleford even claims to have had some fondness for loathsome interview subjects ranging from Joey Buttafuoco to John Wayne Bobbitt. Now, that may be a little too nice…

COMPETITIVE EDGE Knowing that the great ladies of journalism clawed their way to the top with a viciousness usually reserved for professional wrestlers, Littleford isn’t afraid to place her bets on a deathmatch between Connie Chung and Barbara Walters. ”Connie, by hair pulling,” says Littleford with authority. So, could Littleford take the winner? ”I probably could. I’m younger,” she says. ”Plus, I used to have fights with my sister when I was little, so I can kick ass if I need to. But Connie seems to me to be as sly as hell. She’s got some spunk. She got Newt Gingrich’s mom to call Hillary Clinton a bitch, and you know that had to have been sneaky.”