Who's News

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

Burt Shavitz: Burt’s Bees Co-Founder Was Mr. Natural

If you’re a fan of the Burt’s Bees line of natural, environmentally friendly personal care products, you might have assumed that the Walt-Whitman lookalike on the label was a generic hippie dreamed up by marketing experts. But Burt Shavitz, who passed away on July 5 at age 80 in Bangor, Maine, was a real person and an actual beekeeper. Here are some intriguing facts about a man who was as wild and free-spirited as his likeness might suggest. In 1970 …

Don Featherstone: Father of the Plastic Lawn Flamingo

You may not know sculptor Don Featherstone, but you’ve seen his signature creation grace myriad suburban lawns over the past six decades as an icon of Americans’ affection for tacky. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 Featherstone, who died June 22 at age 79 in Fitchburg, Mass., was the father of the pink plastic lawn flamingo. He created the original in 1957 for Union Products, a Massachusetts-based plastics manufacturer. Here are some facts about the artist and his famous bird. …

Dick Van Patten: America’s Favorite Dad in ‘Eight Is Enough’

Actor Dick Van Patten might have been America’s favorite fictional dad in the late 1970s/early 1980s for his role on the TV sitcom Eight Is Enough: Tom Bradford, a widower who married his son’s tutor (Betty Buckley) and formed a chaotic but loving new family unit with her. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 But in a career that spanned seven decades, Van Patten, who died June 22 at age 86 in Santa Monica, Calif., played a wealth of …

B.B. King: Master of the Blues Guitar

For boomer blues and rock fans, B.B. King was the guitar god of all guitar gods. The Mississippi-born bluesman, who passed away at age 89 on May 14 in Las Vegas, was a seminal influence upon rock greats such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 With the Gibson ax that he called Lucille, King infused country blues with urban intensity, playing a ringing, wailing vibrato that, as a New York Times …

Ben E. King: He Sang ‘Stand by Me’

R&B singer Ben E. King, who passed away April 30 at age 76 in Hackensack, N.J., had a smooth, unaffected baritone and soulful delivery that earned him a string of top 10 singles between the late 1950s and early 1960s, both as a member of the Drifters and as a solo artist. But it was one song, “Stand by Me,” that ensured musical immortality for the North Carolina native. After becoming a hit in 1961, the song enjoyed a second …

Percy Sledge: He Sang ‘When A Man Loves a Woman’

Back in 1966, a soul singer named Percy Sledge scored a No. 1 hit with his first single, “When a Man Loves a Woman” — a plaintive ballad about obsessive, all-consuming passion and the heartbreak it inevitably inflicts. The Alabama native, who died April 14 at age 74 in Baton Rouge, La., managed to put himself in the soundtrack of countless ’60s boomer romances. Here are some facts about a hit that still resonates and the man who created it. …