The seemingly gruff, gap-toothed Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar for best actor with his portrayal of a lonely Bronx butcher in “Marty.” But he starred in over 190 film and television roles over a career that spanned six decades – including the rapscallion boat skipper in “McHale’s Navy.” Borgnine died at the age of 95. And you can listen to him reminisce about his colorful past when he spoke with guesthost Dean Olsher in August, 2008, for his autobiography, Ernie.
Nora Ephron was many things – a screenwriter and director, responsible for “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “You’ve Got Mail,” and “Julie and Julia.” She loved writing, and came on the show a number of times over the years for her books I Feel Bad About My Neck, and I Remember Nothing,” as well as for her play, “Love, Loss & What I Wore.” She was also a very funny, and very generous person, who volunteered to be on the show on the spur of the moment, should a guest cancel. But she had her priorities: one of the last times we invited her to be a guest, she said that her son was performing in a band that night, and she had to be there. She died at the age of 71. You can listen to her conversations with Leonard below.
Film critics may seem almost interchangeable these days, but that was never the case with Andres Sarris. First, at The Village Voice, and then at The New York Observer, he championed auteur directors like Truffaut, Ophuls, Godard, Bergman, and Kurosawa – with style and an acerbic edge. We were lucky to have had him on as a guest over the years, before his recent death at the age of 83. And you can hear a 1992 and a 1998 interview with Leonard now.
Rodney King became famous when he was videotaped in 1991 being beaten by the Los Angeles police – and that incident spawned a week of race riots when the officers were acquitted. He was joined by his fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, when he spoke with Leonard on April 25th, for his memoir, The Riot Within, about the twenty years since that difficult time. He said during the interview how swimming and fishing helped him deal with some of the emotional scars. He was found dead on June 16 in his home swimming pool.
Few people deserve being called “iconic” as much as science fiction writer Ray Bradbury – who gave us such classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Dandelion Wine – among no less than 500 published works. And since he just died at the age of 91, you might want to hear his July 1990 interview with Leonard Lopate.
Paul Fussell enlisted in the army in 1943 -- and on his first morning on a battlefield, he woke to find corpses strewn in front of him. He was wounded, and awarded a Purple Heart as well as the Bronze Star for gallantry. Scarred by these experiences, he spent the rest of his life trying to demystify the romanticism of battle, beginning with his study of the Great War. Military historian John Keegan, who was a friend of Fussell's, calls The Great War a "simply superb book that will be read long after he's dead." Paul Fussell was a guest a number of times on the Leonard Lopate Show, before he died recently at the age of 88. And you can still hear one of those interviews from 2002.
Carlos Fuentes had a rich life in politics – and was the Mexican ambassador to France at one point in the late 70s. But his heart belonged to writing. His novel, Gringo Viejo, or, The Old Gringo, was made into a movie in 1989, starring Gregory Peck. A contemporary of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he himself returned to magical realism in his last novel, Destiny and Desire, which was set in modern Mexico. He just died at the age of 83. And you can hear his interview with Leonard from January 2011, in which he discussed Destiny and Desire, and his life in, and out of literature.
Maurice Sendak was best known for his books that he wrote for children, including Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and The Sign on Rosie’s Door, which created worlds where the regular rules did not apply, bad things could happen, and the characters were often bossy and sometimes unpleasant. While his genre-bending books were sometimes criticized by adults, they have been loved by generations of children. He died this week at the age of 83, and you can listen to his 1992 interview with Leonard Lopate.
It’s somehow fitting that Dick Clark seemed to defy the ravages of time – since he hosted the long-running show, “American Bandstand,” which helped bring rock’n’roll into the mainstream. He also hosted the annual televised New Year’s Eve party every year since 1973 until 2004 – with a break for a stroke – but then continued in some capacity until this past December. He died at the age of 82. But he still lives on – through the magic of video and radio – including Leonard’s interview with him from May of 1997.
Mike Wallace was the first person Don Hewitt hired for the staff of 60 Minutes. He would go on to accumulate 21 Emmys, five Dupont-Columbia journalism awards, and five Peabodys in the course of a career that spanned six decades. Mike Wallace died April 7 at the age of 93. He reminisced with Leonard in January of 2006 about his memoir, Between You and Me, and some of the highlights of his years in broadcast journalism, interviewing everyone from John D. Ehrlichman to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Barbra Streisand.
In Adrienne Rich’s verse, the political and the poetical were intensely intertwined. One critic said that “her body of work can be read as a series of urgent dispatches from the front.” Widely anthologized and widely read, her voice was distinctive. She died at the age of 82 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. You can hear her interview with Leonard from October, 1993.
The name “Berenstain” inevitably brings up images of bears – Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear. Though Jan and her husband Stan had originally toyed with the notion of doing children’s books about penguins, they ultimately decided that bears were more like humans! And their books about the Berenstain Bears sold over 200 million copies. Jan Berenstain, who wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books with her husband, died at the age of 88. You can hear their conversation with Leonard from October 2002…
Dmitri Nabokov was a professional opera singer, a race car driver, and a mountain climber. He was also the son of Vladimir Nabokov – whose literary legacy he tended with great devotion. He translated his father’s early Russian works, and published The Original of Laura, an unfinished novel his father had demanded be burned, and wrote On Revisiting Father’s Room, a memoir about his relationship with his famous father. He died at the age of 77. Leonard interviewed him in May, 1988.
Feisty publisher Barney Rosset was responsible for bringing exposure in America to greats Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Jean Genet through his Grove Press imprint. He also defied censors, and ultimately won celebrated First Amendment battles by publishing D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. He just died this week at the age of 89. And you can hear some of his interviews with Leonard below.
New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died on February 16, at the age of 43, while on assignment in Syria. He had been covering conflict in the Middle East for almost 20 years, reporting for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Associated Press. He was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting, in 2004 and in 2010, for his coverage of Iraq for The Washington Post. Mr. Shadid was a guest on the Leonard Lopate Show many times, discussing in depth the politics and turmoil in across the Middle East. Leonard spoke to him most recently in April 2011 about covering the events in Libya and his own capture there, and about anti-government protests in Syria. You can listen to those interviews and others he's had with Leonard over the years:
Ben Gazzara’s career spanned originating the role of Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway, to appearing in the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski,” on film – as well as a number of John Cassavetes’ movies. The New York native studied acting at the New School and the Actors Studio, where his classmates included Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, James Dean, Julie Harris, and Geraldine Page. He died at the age of 81, recently. And you can hear his interview with Leonard from 2004, for his memoir, In the Moment.
Writer Christopher Hitchens died recently of complications of cancer. The Vanity Fair contributor was best known for his controversial opinions about God, women and humor, and just about everything in between. He spoke to Leonard Lopate in June 2010, shortly before he received his cancer diagnosis.
Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, when she was recognized for her work in sustainable development. In 1977, she launched the Green Belt movement, putting thousands of Kenyan women to work planting trees to restore the country’s forests. She traveled the world discussing the connections between poverty and environmental deterioration. She died recently at the age of 71 and you can hear her 2006 conversation with Leonard Lopate.
Arthur Laurents was a triple threat: a playwright, screenwriter, and director behind two landmark Broadway shows, West Side Story and Gypsy - as well as the film, The Way We Were. He once wrote, "Entertainment is dessert, it needs to be balanced by the main course, theater of substance." He was responsible for a lot of both! He died at the age of 93. You can hear his last interview with Leonard from 2004.
On Wednesday, photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed in a mortar attack in Misurata, Libya. Photojournalist Chris Hondros was also killed in the attack and two other photojournalists were wounded.
Leonard spoke to Tim Hetherington and co-director Sebastian Junger in 2010 about their film, Restrepo, which chronicled the deployment of a platoon of American soldiers sent to one of the most dangerous outposts in Afghanistan. He also spoke to them in 2007 while they were covering that conflict for Vanity Fair:
Hetherington had also covered conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.