Rev. Theodore Hesburgh: Legendary Notre Dame President

When asked at his 1952 inauguration as president of Notre Dame to pose with a pigskin, as if he were a successor to Knute Rockne, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh said, “I’m not the football coach. I’m the president.” Indeed, during his 35-year career at the school, Hesburgh, who passed away on Feb. 26 at age 97 on the campus in South Bend, Ind., became far more influential than any gridiron hero. He turned Notre Dame into an academic powerhouse, became a …

Leonard Nimoy: Star Trek’s Pointy-Eared Icon

How powerful an impression has Leonard Nimoy’s Star Trek portrayal of Spock left on American culture? Hold up your right hand in the split-fingered Vulcan salute that Nimoy invented for his relentlessly logical, dispassionate half-alien starship officer, and odds are that just about everybody in the room will get the reference. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 Here are some facts about Nimoy, who passed away on Feb. 27 at age 83 in Los Angeles, and his relationship with …

Earl Lloyd: First Black NBA Player

On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd took the court as a member of the now-long-defunct Washington Capitols basketball team for a game against the Rochester Royals in New York. Lloyd’s six points and 10 rebounds were no game-changer, but his performance definitely was in another sense: It was the first time that an African American player appeared in a National Basketball Association game. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 Here are some facts about Lloyd, who passed away on …

Clark Terry: Master Jazz Trumpeter and Educator

The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash, legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes. Terry — known for his affable nature as much as his musical brilliance — was one of the main figures in another 2014 breakout film, Alan Hicks’ touching documentary Keep On Keepin’ On. That film …

Lesley Gore: She Sang ‘It’s My Party’

If ever a song perfectly captured teenage betrayal, it was “It’s My Party” sung by Lesley Gore. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring of 1963. Gore, who passed away on Feb. 16 at age 68 in New York City, recorded the song at age 16, when she was still a high school junior in New Jersey. It became the biggest hit in a multifaceted career that included several other hit singles, acting roles in TV and …

Gary Owens: The Voice of ‘Laugh-In’ Signs Off

When longtime Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens died Feb. 13, one of the great voices of the past century was stilled. I was lucky enough to interview Gary in September 2009 about a new documentary featuring his friend Jonathan Winters. Instantly recognizable from his first “hello,” Gary took me on a roller coaster ride of rapid-fire anecdotes, drawing on his 60-some-odd years in show business. From hosting The Gong Show to buying a Quincy Jones album for 11-year-old Michael Jackson, it’s …