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.
Sidney Lumet once wrote, “While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.” This is something the filmmaker did from his very first movie, “12 Angry Men” in 1957, through “Serpico,” and “Dog Day Afternoon” to “The Verdict.” Sidney Lumet died at the age of 86 from lymphoma. You can hear his last interview with Leonard from 2007 when he was joined by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke for “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”
When Richard Leacock died in Paris on March 23rd at the age of 89, it marked the end of one of the great careers in documentary film. An esteemed director, cinematographer, and teacher, Leacock helped invent what became known ascinéma vérité, or "direct cinema." He and his colleagues influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, leading to a revolution in visual style that it still being worked out today. If you’re not familiar with his work you should check out “Primary” and “Monterey Pop.” Meanwhile, you can hear Leonard’s interview with him from 1999, when we were lucky to have had him on the show.
Geraldine Ferraro made history back in 1984 when she became the Democratic nominee for vice president – the first woman to appear on the presidential ballot for a major political party. The night the former Queens congresswoman accepted the nomination, she said, “If we can do this, we can do anything.” And though she and Walter Mondale didn’t win against Ronald Reagan that year, she proved a fierce politician. She had been battling multiple myeloma since 1998, and died earlier this week at the age of 75. Leonard last interviewed her in 1998 for her family memoir, Framing a Life.
If you ever saw Alfred Hitchcock’s amazing film, “Strangers on a Train,” you’ll remember Farley Granger– he played the tall, dapper socialite tennis pro. He’d also been in an earlier Hitchcock movie, “Rope.” Granger just died at the age of 85. He had come by the show back in 2007 to speak with Leonard Lopate about the ups and downs of his career in Hollywood for his memoir, Include Me Out.
Willie, Mickey, or the Duke? There was a time when people used to debate whether Mays, Mantle, or Snider was the best ballplayer. Hall of Famer Duke Snider was certainly key in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ glory years – the star among stars there. And now the Duke has passed at the age of 84. You can hear an interview Leonard did with him back in 1988.