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.
Blind virtuosic piano player George Shearing died recently at the age of 96.
The British-born American novelist and essayist Wilfrid Sheed died recently at the age of 80.
Margaret Whiting died at the age of 86. She was the voice behind many hits, like “Moonlight in Vermont,” “”It Might As Well be Spring,” “That Old Black Magic” – and, on duets, with Johnny Mercer (“Baby It’s Cold Outside”) and Jimmy Wakely (“Slippin’ Around”).
Dr. Billy Taylor was an elegant, Grammy-winning jazz pianist and composer. But just as importantly, he was an educator, who earned his Ph.D in music education. He died of heart failure at the age of 89 recently.
Elizabeth Edwards was many things: an accomplished lawyer, a mother who had lost her oldest son, and a political wife. But it wasn't until she announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer that she became a public figure in her own right.
Norris Church Mailer just died at the age of 61. Norris Church Mailer was originally a small-town girl from Arkansas whose life changed dramatically when she met and fell in love with Norman Mailer one night. She would be his wife for over thirty years.
Actress Jill Clayburgh had the beauty to play glamorous women, but she was drawn to characters who were, as she put it, “coming apart at the seams.” She was nominated for an Oscar for her roles in “An Unmarried Woman” and “Starting Over.” She died recently at the age of 66, from chronic leukemia (which she had dealt with for 21 years).
If we remember the words of John F. Kennedy’s speeches, it’s in large part thanks to Theodore Sorensen. But Sorensen was far more than just a speechwriter—he in large part shaped the president’s image and legacy, serving as a political strategist and a key adviser. Leonard Lopate spoke to Ted Sorensen a number of times, and you can hear—and see a video of—his 2008 interview.
Eddie Fisher was one of the most popular singers of the 1950s -- but he’s also known for his romantic entanglements with Debbie Reynolds (fathering Carrie and Todd Fisher) and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. You could say he’d Been There, Done That, which was the title of his memoir – which he came to discuss with Leonard Lopate back in September of 1999. He died recently at the age of 82.
Abbey Lincoln recently died at the age of 80.
Abbey Lincoln, who was born Anna Marie Wooldridge, in Chicago, died on Saturday in Manhattan at age 80, after an acting, singing and composing career that spanned some five decades.
Tony Judt died recently at the age of 62. He could be described as a historian and an intellectual – and he took these titles very seriously. He told an interviewer recently that he thought “intellectuals have a primary duty to dissent not from the conventional wisdom of the age (though that too) but, and above all, from the consensus of their own community."
Patricia Neal had a way of mesmerizing people with her molasses-flecked-with-grit voice. She passed away at the age of 84.
The actress Patricia Neal grew up in a mining town in Kentucky, yet by 21 she had won a Tony for her Broadway performance in Lillian Hellman’s “Another Part of the Forest.” The husky-voiced actress went on to win the Academy Award in 1963 for her role alongside Paul Newman in the film "Hud." Neal had lung cancer and died Sunday at her home on Martha's Vineyard. She was 84.
Mitch Miller, perhaps best known for his 1960's series Sing Along With Mitch, died Saturday at the age of 99.