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Tributes: Arthur Gelb

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Arthur Gelb was one of those quintessential success stories: he rose from being a copy boy in 1944 to managing editor of The New York Times.  In the many years before he retired in 1989, Gelb was a passionate presence at the paper – writing for the culture pages, developing daily stand-alone sections like Sports-Monday, Science Times, Dining, Home, and Weekend.  He admitted, at one point, that “I’m not sure I would have wanted to work for me when I was an editor.  I was well aware that not every reporter was eager to chase down the countless (if sometimes dubious) leads I proposed – and some eyed me as though I were some kind of madman.”  He died at the age of 90.  But you can still hear Leonard’s conversation with Gelb in 2003.

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Tributes: Malik Bendjelloul

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The musician from Detroit known as Rodriguez had produced only 2 albums in the early 1970s before he vanished from the music scene. Many assumed he was dead. But meanwhile his music went on to inspire many in South Africa, where he became something of a superstar. On a trip to Cape Town in 2006 the Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul uncovered Rodriguez’ story, and eventually, he found Rodriguez – and the result was what would become the Oscar-winning documentary, "Searching for Sugarman." Malik Bendjelloul was recently found dead in Stockholm.  He was 36.  You can hear his 2012 conversation with Leonard and Rodriguez.

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Tributes: Paul Robeson, Jr.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Paul Robeson, Jr. had the deeply resonant voice of his father, as well as the tall build of the former actor, singer, and civil rights activist.  And he spent a lifetime working to preserve that legacy.  He not only wrote two books about his father, but created an archive of his writings and films at Howard University, and accepted a Grammy on his behalf in 1998.  Paul Robeson, Jr. died at the age of 86. Leonard last spoke with him in August of 2001. 

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Tributes: Alistair MacLeod

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Herald of Glasgow called Alistair MacLeod was “one of the greatest living writers in English.”  That’s despite the fact that the Canadian’s output was relatively small.  He only published one novel, No Great Mischief, (which he wrote over the course of 13 years), and fewer than two dozen short stories (which were all collected in the volume, Island). Rugged Cape Breton was his emotional heartland, and where he set most of his fiction.  A perfectionist, he explained, “I take a lot of time thinking about what I’m writing.”  He died recently at the age of 77.  And you can hear Leonard’s interview with him from January, 2001.

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Tributes: Rubin (Hurricane) Carter

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rubin Carter, otherwise known as Hurricane, had a powerful left hook and a ferocious, mesmerizing presence in and out of the ring. But his promise as a star prizefighter was cut short after he was wrongly convicted of murder, twice. He was imprisoned for 19 years before the charges were finally dismissed. His life became the subject of the 1999 movie “The Hurricane,” starring Denzel Washington. Carter told The New York Times shortly after his second conviction in 1977, “They can incarcerate my body but never my mind.” Carter died Sunday, April 20, of prostate cancer. He and his biographer James Hirsch spoke with Leonard on January 11, 2000.

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Tributes: Mickey Rooney

Monday, April 07, 2014

Mickey Rooney got his first laugh on stage when he was just 18 months old, launching him to a long career in show business. He became a major box office draw in the late 1930 and early 1940's, and was best-known for the nine films he made with Judy Garland. He died recently at the age of 93. He was on the Leonard Lopate Show in 2004 with his wife Jan - his 8th - to talk about their off-Broadway show "Let's Put on a Show," which looked back at Rooney's long and varied career. 

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Tributes: Jonathan Schell

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jonathan Schell spent a lifetime exploring war in all its various incarnations.  His 1982 book, The Fate of the Earth – in which he called for complete nuclear disarmament -- was called “the new Bible of our time, the White Paper of our age,” by Helen Caldicott, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility.  He had been a lead writer at The New Yorker till 1987, a columnist for Newsday and New York Newsday, and, most recently, a correspondent for The Nation.  He died recently at the age of 70. You can hear his interview with Leonard from May 2003, when he spoke about the greatest non-violent moments in modern history, from his book The Unconquerable World.

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Tributes: David Brenner

Monday, March 17, 2014

Unlike most comedians who went on The Tonight Show and headed straight to the couch, David Brenner performed first.  The reason was, as Johnny Carson would explain, "I like to sit back, smoke a cigarette and laugh for six minutes."  The lanky, toothsome Philadelphia native started out as a writer and director of television documentaries, before deciding to try comedy, relatively late, in the 1970s.  He would appear on The Tonight Show over 150 times, as both a guest and a substitute host.  He died recently at the age of 78.  You can hear his conversation with Leonard from October 2003, about his book, I Think There’s a Terrorist in My Soup, about staging a comedy tour in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

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Tributes: Joe McGinniss

Monday, March 17, 2014

Joe McGinniss had a nose for news, and was tireless in pursuing, and immersing himself in stories, be it then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon (The Selling of the President 1968) or 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (The Rogue).  Along with Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe, he was known as one of the writers of New Journalism.  He died recently at the age of 71.  He spoke to Leonard in April 2009 for his story about the deal that Palin struck to build a $40 billion pipeline, which had little chance of being built. 

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Tributes: Mavis Gallant

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It’s a common fantasy for many aspiring writers to move to Paris, in hopes of becoming famous.  Mavis Gallant is one of the few who did; plus she succeeded where so many others fail, in only a matter of years.  The Montreal native became known as a “writer’s writer” in the course of 10 collections of short stories, which originally appeared in the New Yorker.  She died recently in Paris, the city where she worked for most of her life, at the age of 91.  We were lucky to have had the chance to speak with her back in 2006 when she reflected on a career that had already spanned half a century. 

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Tributes: Andre Schiffrin

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Andre Schiffrin was a force of nature in the publishing world for 50 years.  He championed the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, Gunter Grass, Simone de Beauvoir, and Julio Cortazar, among many others, first at Pantheon, before founding the independent New Press.  He died in Paris at the age of 78.  And you can hear his interview with Leonard from September 2000, when he discussed his polemical memoir, The Business of Books.

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Tributes: Chico Hamilton

Monday, December 02, 2013

Chico Hamilton was a triple threat – a drummer, bandleader, and composer, whose smooth, understated style led to California’s cool jazz sound. He was a charter member of Gerry Mulligan’s quartet before founding his own quintet.  And he wrote the music for Roman Polanski’s 1965 film, Repulsion. He died at the age of 92. You can still hear his interview with Leonard Lopate in August of 2007 below.

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Tributes: Doris Lessing

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When Doris Lessing was confronted by a bunch of reporters outside her home in London one day in 2007, and was told she'd just won the Nobel Prize, she retorted, "Oh, Christ!...  I couldn't care less." The outspoken, independent, and sometimes irascible author reinvented herself over the course of novels, short stories, essays and poems, whether drawing upon her childhood spent in the Central African bush, or imagining a dystopian future.  It was The Golden Notebook, her 1962 novel, though, that brought her the most acclaim. She died recently at the age of 94.  You can hear her distinctive voice in an interview with Leonard from 2003 below.

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Tributes: Charlie Trotter

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Our tribute to the award-winning chef.

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Tributes: Patrice Chereau

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Officially, Patrice Chereau was a director – but his provocative work in theater, opera, and film defied traditional forms. French President Francois Hollande called him “one of France’s greatest artists.” Chereau died recently at the age of 68 after a long battle with cancer.  You can hear his interview with Leonard from 1999, when he discussed his film, “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train.”

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Tributes: Oscar Hijuelos

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oscar Hijuelos was a warm, robust, Cuban-American writer who brought to life in his books the colorful neighborhood of northern Morningside Heights, where he grew up.  In the process, he won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 1989 work, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The novel was later made into a movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas.  Hijuelos died suddenly while playing tennis this Saturday, at the age of 62.  You can hear his 2002 conversation with Leonard Lopate about his novel, A Simple Habana Melody (from when the world was good), and their 2011 conversation about his memoir, Thoughts Without Cigarettes.

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Tributes: Scott Carpenter

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scott Carpenter was the fourth American astronaut in space, and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America's original space program, Project Mercury.  He admitted he'd volunteered for it because "Pioneering in space was something I would willingly give my life for." It was actually feared he had died after his Mercury mission in 1962, when he landed 250 nautical miles from his target!  Scott Carpenter died recently at the age of 88.  You can hear his conversation with Leonard from 2003, about his uncommon journey into space.

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Tributes: Marcella Hazan

Monday, September 30, 2013

If Julia Child taught Americans how to cook French food, Marcella Hazan taught them how to cook Italian food. She taught herself to cook when she and her husband Victor came to the US in 1955 and soon Hazan was teaching New Yorkers how to cook noodles, meat sauce, and risotto, enjoying their work during lunch at the end of class. In 1970 New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne came to one of the lunches. The rest, as they say, is history. Her popular cookbooks were known for their simple, straightforward recipes. She died recently at the age of 89. You can hear 2 of her conversations with Leonard.

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Tributes: David Frost

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Famed television interviewer David Frost was best known for his conversations with former president Richard Nixon. He died this weekend, and you can hear Leonard's 2007 conversation with Frost about his experience preparing for the Nixon interviews below.

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Tributes: Marian McPartland

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marian McPartland, the renowned jazz pianist and host of NPR’s “Piano Jazz,” had a career that spanned six decades.  And she had no intention of stopping!  “Retire? Why retire?” she asked an AP reporter in 2007. “I’ve got a job, I’m making money, and I like what I do. Why retire?”  She told of the difficulty of breaking into the jazz scene as a woman in the ‘50s in her collection of essays, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.  After a set, a man approached her: “You know, you can’t be a respectable woman the way you play piano,’” she wrote. “For some reason or another, this struck me as a great compliment.”  Marian McPartland’s career just ended when she died at the age of 95.  She was on the Leonard Lopate Show several times, including a live performance in our studios – and can hear them below. 

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