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 …

Bobby Keys: That Was Him on Sax in ‘Brown Sugar’

Bobby Keys’ driving, raw tour de force saxophone solo in the middle of the Rolling Stones’ 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” will still raise the little hairs on your neck decades later. But Keys, who died Dec. 2 at age 70 in Franklin, Tenn., was no one-hit wonder. He played frequently with the Stones for most of the group’s half-century of existence and is heard on numerous other songs in their repertoire, from 1969′s “Live with Me” to 1980′s “Emotional Rescue.” You’ve …

Mike Nichols, Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83

Mike Nichols, who died on Nov. 19 at age 83 in New York, might have gone down as one of the great directors in Hollywood history based upon his first two films alone. His 1966 adaptation of the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was nominated for 13 Oscars and won five. His second, 1967’s The Graduate, won him the Best Director statuette, and its witty, provocative send-up of upper-middle-class mores — set to a Simon and Garfunkel …