Ben Bradlee: A Journalist’s Journalist

Former Washington Post executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee was one of the biggest names in journalism. He was so big that when the world thought of him, it pictured Jason Robards, the actor who portrayed Bradlee in the hit 1976 movie All the President’s Men. That Hollywood retelling of how the Post helped break the Watergate scandal popularized Bradlee, who passed away Oct. 21 in Washington at 93, as a real-life version of TV’s Lou Grant — gruff and relentlessly …

Taking Tea With Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta (right), the Dominican Republic-born fashion designer who clad the stars for 60 years and died Oct. 20 at 82, was one of my first teachers at Parsons School of Design back in the late 1960s. A devoted fashion-magazine junkie, I had wangled an interview with Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, who suggested I become a clothing designer. My portfolio landed me in a class on fashion design taught by Mr. de la Renta, who had launched his …

Geoffrey Holder: Much More than a 7Up Pitchman

TV commercials for 7Up made a powerful impression on us in the 1970s and ’80s in large part because of the pitchman: A handsome gentleman clad in an elegant white suit and hat, who spoke in stentorian tones infused with a Caribbean lilt. Lounging in a straw chair, Geoffrey Holder touted the no-caffeine virtues of the “Uncola” as he poured and sipped a glass of the bubbly beverage, and at the end, drove home his point by leaning back his …

Paul Revere: That Was the Rocker’s Real Name

Boomers are accustomed to rock musicians’ colorful stage names, from Ringo Starr (real name Richard Starkey) to Sting (Gordon Sumner). That’s why it’s surprising to discover that the leader of the campy, colorful Paul Revere and the Raiders actually used the one on his birth certificate, at least the first and middle parts. Dressing in Revolutionary War-style frock coats, breeches, knee-high leather boots and tri-corner hats, Paul Revere, who passed away on Oct. 4 at age 76 in Sun Valley, …

Polly Bergen: An Entertainer Who Did It All

Actresses and singers come and go, but Polly Bergen had a multifaceted entertainment career that stretched from 1949 to 2012 because she was a star at just about everything she tried. Bergen, who died on Sept. 20 at age 84 in Southbury, Conn., won an Emmy in 1958 for her portrayal of alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan on Playhouse 90, and she made a lasting impression on the big screen as the terrorized wife of a lawyer (Gregory Peck) stalked by a …

Can We Talk About Joan Rivers?

Whether you screamed with delight at her unfiltered caustic commentary or found her a grating loudmouth, Joan Rivers was a unique figure who paved the way for other female comedians. “The Queen of Mean,” who died at age 81 on Sept. 4 in New York following complications from an outpatient procedure, always saved her harshest barbs for herself — her supposed lack of sex appeal, her obsession with plastic surgery, the endless indignities of aging. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in …