Who's News

Journalist Patrick J. Kiger tells the stories of people who make their mark in ways big and small.

Rod McKuen: 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Pop Poet

Literary critics never had much love for Rod McKuen, who passed away on Jan. 30 at age 81 in Beverly Hills. Not that it mattered to his legions of fans. McKuen’s volumes of poetry, including Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows and Listen to the Warm, sold 60 million copies. In addition, McKuen was a prolific songwriter whose lyrics were interpreted by performers ranging from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Johnny Cash. His own gravelly, breathy recording of “Jean,” which he composed for …

Ernie Banks: ‘Mr. Cub’ Was Happiest Man in Baseball

Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks loved baseball so much that he once famously walked onto Chicago’s Wrigley Field before a game and proclaimed, “It’s a beautiful day, let’s play two!” It became his slogan. Banks, who passed away on Jan. 23 at age 83 in Chicago, was the first African American to take the field for the Chicago Cubs, hit 512 home runs and won the National League’s most valuable player award twice. But it was his irrepressible ebullience, even when …

Tom Verna: He Invented Instant Replay

There was a time when sports fans watching a live game on TV had no choice but to play close attention throughout. If they missed a spectacular play while reaching for the bowl of chips, they didn’t get a second chance to see it. TV sports director and producer Tony Verna changed that. Verna, who passed away on Jan. 18 at age 81, introduced the instant replay in 1963, basically videotaping the game and rerunning key moments to fill time …

Rod Taylor: The Aussie Actor Who Hit It Big in ‘The Birds’

You might remember Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner, the handsome, stolid lawyer who, despite being something of a mama’s boy, summons up the courage and presence of mind to repeatedly rescue young socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) from flocks of inexplicably murderous avians in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror-suspense classic, The Birds. Taylor, who died Jan. 7 at age 84 in Los Angeles, was one of the first Australian-born actors to make it big in Hollywood, following in the footsteps of …

Bess Myerson: More Than Just Miss America

Bess Myerson’s selection as Miss America in 1945 had special significance. Myerson was Jewish, at a time when Jews still faced discrimination in the United States and the world was haunted by the unspeakable brutality of the Nazi Holocaust in Europe. She became a symbol not just of beauty, elegance and poise, but of resilience and ethnic pride as well. But that groundbreaking triumph was just the beginning of several decades in the public eye for Myerson, whose death on …

Joe Cocker: Shakin’ Soul Shouter

As a singer, Joe Cocker was blessed with a magnificently raspy, soulful delivery that made him one of the most immediately recognizable vocalists in the history of rock music. But what really stuck in the public’s mind was his dancing: those flailing, knock-kneed, spasmodic movements that made it almost seem as if he was struggling with a demonic possession as he blew away the crowd at the Woodstock festival in 1969. As Cocker explained in a 2013 interview, even he …