Recently in Tributes
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The laconic Elmore Leonard once noted, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” His ultimate object, he wrote, was “invisibility.” Even punctuation was avoidable. Dialogue and blank space ruled. In the process, he wrote countless bestsellers over his long career, starting out with Westerns. His novels and short stories often became films, including “Hombre,” “3:10 to Yuma, “The Tall T,” “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight.” He died at the age of 87, but you can hear many of his interviews with Leonard over the years below...and his sense of humor comes through loud and clear.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
One of the most memorable interviews on our show was when Kongar-ol Ondar came by our old studios at One Centre Street. He was a master of Tuvan throat singing -- where the vocalist can produce two, or more, notes simultaneously. Margalit Fox said in the New York Times that it "sounds like the bewitching, remarkably harmonious marriage of a vacuum cleaner and a bumblebee." With Leonard's coaxing, Ondar demonstrated on air. And it suddenly felt like we were on the steppes of Mongolia...You can hear for yourself...
Ondar died recently at the age of 51.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Dennis Farina came late to acting – after he had spent 20 years as a police officer in Chicago. His acting career would eventually last longer than his years in law enforcement, though – between stints on series “Law & Order,” “Crime Story,” and “Luck,” and movies that included “Get Shorty,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Midnight Run.” He died at the age of 69. He spoke with Leonard back in November of 2001 for his film, “Sidewalks of New York.”
Friday, July 26, 2013
Helen Thomas was the first woman to become a chief White House correspondent for a wire service, and the first to not only join, but lead the White House Correspondents’ Association, where she covered every president from Kennedy to Obama with intensity, tenacity, and humor (when called for!). She died at the age of 92. And you can hear Leonard’s interview with her from May 1999.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Reporter and war correspondent Michael Hastings is best known for his Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in which he quoted McChrystal criticizing the Obama White House and mocking certain members of the Administration. Gen. McChrystal retired shortly afterward. Hastings died on Tuesday and you can hear his conversation with Leonard Lopate below.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Jean Stapleton may be remembered for her television work, especially portraying Edith Bunker, the slow-witted housewife with a huge heart in the groundbreaking series, “All in the Family.” Her screechy duet with Carroll O’Connor, singing “Those Were The Days” opened that show. Yet both before and after that hit sitcom, she made a name for herself on the stage, appearing in everything from “Damn Yankees” and “Funny Girl” (opposite Barbra Streisand), as well as in works by Harold Pinter and Eugene Ionesco. Off Broadway, she was an incredible Julia Child in the one-woman mini-musical, “Bon Appétit.” She died at her home here in New York City at the age of 90. And you can hear the three-time Emmy-winning actress speak with Leonard, in her own, natural voice, in April of 2002.
Monday, June 03, 2013
At one point, Andrew Greeley mockingly suggested that his obituary would read, “Andrew Greeley, Priest; Wrote Steamy Novels.” But, in addition to writing sexually frank novels, the Roman Catholic priest was also quite an equal-opportunity maverick, taking on both scandals in the American Catholic church, as well as secular intellectuals. Andrew M. Greeley died in his sleep at the age of 85. And you can hear his interview with Leonard from June of 1991.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Jean Bach's lifelong love of jazz, and fascination with a black-and-white photograph of a group of 57 musical titans gathered on the stoop of 17 East 126th Street, would lead to her making a documentary about that moment, called "A Great Day in Harlem." It would be nominated for an Academy Award in 1994. The always fashionable former radio producer was such a fixture in the New York jazz world that reputedly Frank Sinatra would always ask upon coming to town, "What's happening down at Jean's?" She died just recently at the age of 94. And you can hear Leonard's interview with her from 1995 about the making of "A Great Day in Harlem."
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
A chance encounter between keyboardist Ray Manzarek and singer Jim Morrison led to their founding what would become The Doors. As Jeff Jampol, who manages the Doors’ estate, said, “Ray was the catalyst, he was the galvanizer. He was the one that took Jim by the hand and took the band by the hand, and always kept pushing. Without that guiding force, I don’t know if the Doors would have been.” And there might not have been “Light My Fire,” which would become so associated with the Summer of Love. Ray Manzarek died recently at the age of 74. You can hear his conversation with Leonard from January 2002, when he was here to talk about his novel, The Poet in Exile.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Roger Ebert’s career as a film critic spanned over four decades in both print, television and Twitter. In 1975, he was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer. He died after a long battle with cancer at the age of 70. Hear his interview with Leonard from 2005.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Even though you may not know Phil Ramone’s name, you probably know the music stars whose work he produced – including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and Barbra Streisand among them. Phil Ramone admitted in his memoir, Making Records, “Unlike a director (who is visible, and often a celebrity in his own right), the record producer toils in anonymity.” Billy Joel acknowledged that “I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. He was the guy that no one ever, ever saw onstage… So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him.” Phil Ramone died at the age of 79 (though it was until recently reported he was only 72.) And you can hear Leonard’s interviews with him from November 20, 2006 and October 16, 2007.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Anthony Lewis won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for his reporting on the US government's loyalty program during the McCarthy era. He won his second in 1963 for his reporting on the Supreme Court for the New York Times. Lewis wrote for the Times until 2001, and his interest in justice continued to permeate his reporting and columns. He died recently at the age of 85. He was part of a panel discussion on censorship on the Leonard Lopate Show in 2008 and you can hear that conversation by clicking below.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Chinua Achebe was considered by many to be the father of Nigerian -- and modern African -- literature. His novel, Things Fall Apart, which was first published in 1958 and has been translated into 45 languages. Mr. Achebe died earlier today at the age of 82. I had the opportunity to speak with him several times...and you can hear to my 2008 conversation with Chinua Achebe and fellow Nigerian writer Chris Abani below!
Monday, January 28, 2013
Stanely Karnow was not only a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, but a foreign correspondent and television documentarian. His books include Vietnam: A History, Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution, and the memoir, Paris in the Fifties -- which prompted his friend, Bernard Kalb, the former CBS reporter, to recall, "Stanley has a great line about how being a journalist is like being an adolescent all your life." You can hear him speak with Leonard as part of a panel discussion about the accuracy of historical movies from November 1995.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Clara Ann Fowler was one of 11 children born to a railroad laborer in a small town outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. As “Patti Page,” she would become one of the most successful singers in the 1950s. Her honeyed voice made hits of songs like “Tennessee Waltz,” “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window,” “Allegheny Moon,” and “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” She died recently at the age of 85. And you can listen to her reminisce with Leonard in an interview from March 2001.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Robert Bork made history back in 1987 when his nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Congressional Democrats. As a result, modern boundaries of cultural fights over abortion, civil rights, and other issues were drawn. As solicitor general in the U.S. Justice Department, Bork had been involved in the 1973 "Saturday night massacre" of the Watergate era, carrying out President Richard Nixon's order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The former federal judge and conservative legal scholar died just recently at the age of 85, and you can hear his 1989 interview with Leonard.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
The Wall Street Journal just published what was Ada Louise Huxtable’s last article about the 42nd Street Library’s restructuring on December 4th of last year. Her prose was vigorous as ever, belying her 91 years. She had accomplished many “firsts” in the course of her long career at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – including as the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper, as well as winning the first Pulitzer Prize for criticism, awarded in 1970. You can hear her December 2008 interview with Leonard here.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Russell Means starred as Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye in "The Last of the Mohicans." He also voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film "Pocahontas" – and he had an advantage, in that he was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He was also the first director of the American Indian Movement. He just died at the age of 72. And you can hear his interview from 1995 with Leonard for his memoir, Where White Men Fear to Tread.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Senator George McGovern remained true to his liberal Democratic roots, nurtured in South Dakota, throughout his long life. He just died at the age of 90 in South Dakota, near where he’d spent his formative years. He won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972 as an opponent of the Vietnam War. Though he lost to Richard Nixon, he continued to uphold progressive causes – and opposed with equal vehemence the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He spoke to Leonard Lopate several times and you can hear his conversations with Leonard from 1996 and 2005.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Writer David Rakoff died Thursday at the age of 47. His humorous essays examined a wide range of subjects, from his annoyance at first-world problems to undertaking a 21-day fast to his own bout with cancer. His most recent essay collection, Half Empty, won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was a frequent contributor to This American Life, and the author of the essay collections Don’t Get Too Comfortableand Fraud. He responded to our Guest Picks question “What’s one thing you are a fan of that people might not expect?” with “As someone often seen as hating everything and being immune to pleasure, which isn’t true, I love everything (except sports). I’m just scared of it.” He was on the Leonard Lopate Show a number of times, and was always a generous guest. You can listen to those interviews below.