Who's News

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

Elaine Stritch: Earthy Diva

Actress-singer Elaine Stritch, who died on July 17 at age 89 in Birmingham, Mich., wasn’t the sort who would go gentle into that good night – or any night, for that matter. The gravel-voiced Broadway diva, who made her career playing what the New York Times once called “brash and bawdy characters,” preferred staying out late, and having a cigarette and a drink or three. “I don’t regret a day of my life,” as she once told an interviewer. In a …

Johnny Winter: Blues Legend

It says a lot about guitarist Johnny Winter that blues great Muddy Waters sang his praises. The first time Waters heard him play live, he was blown away by Winter’s blindingly fast thumb-picked electric slide work. “He plays eight notes to my one!” Waters reportedly exclaimed. Winter-who died at age 70 in Zurich on July 16, a few days after performing at a festival in Austria-was surprisingly humble about the virtuosity that earned him a spot on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 …

Tommy Ramone: Last of the Punk-Rock Pioneers

Boomers growing up in the mid- to late 1970s may have felt bored and alienated by the classic rock that their older brothers and sisters listened to. That’s why so many of us were especially excited about a band called the Ramones, who were pretty much the opposite of the handsome stadium-rock gods who dominated the airwaves with their synthesizer bombast and 10-minute guitar solos. With their misshapen hair, torn jeans, cheap sneakers and biker jackets, the Ramones looked like …

Eileen Ford: She Created Supermodels

The beautiful women who display designers’ new fashions on the runway and grace magazine covers are more than just celebrities – they’re brand names in their own right.  We even have a word for them: supermodels. To a great extent, we can thank Eileen Ford for making all those models so super. Ford, who died on July 9 at age 92 in Morristown, N.J.,  in 1947 cofounded – with her late husband Jerry – Ford Models, the agency that became …

Louis Zamperini: Olympic Runner, POW Was Twice a Hero

In 1936, at age 19, Louis Zamperini was one of the best middle-distance runners in the world. He was good enough to be on the U.S. team in the Berlin Olympics, where he finished eighth in the 5,000 meters and stood close enough to Adolf Hitler’s box at the stadium to get a good look at the Nazi dictator. “I was pretty naí¯ve about world politics, and I thought he looked funny, like something out of a Laurel and Hardy …

Bobby Womack: Soul Man

Even if you didn’t know Bobby Womack by name, you probably dug some of his songs that helped make other performers into stars. Womack, who died on June 27 at age 70, was one of the pioneers of the soul sound – a singer, guitarist and songwriter who helped create the fusion of gospel, R&B and jazz that moved a generation to get out and groove to the music. Womack’s own roots stretched back to the great Sam Cooke, who gave …