June Krauser: Senior Mermaid

It’s probably pretty rare to have someone launch a sports competition and then also excel in it. But that’s the story of June Krauser. Krauser, who died on Aug. 9 at age 88 in Pompano Beach, Fla., was one of the founders of U.S. Masters Swimming, a competition established in 1970 that provides swimmers an opportunity to compete against swimmers in their own age group, right up to the centenarian level. But Krauser did more than just write the program’s …

Jim Brady: A Bullet Couldn’t Stop Him

On March 30, 1981, then-White House press secretary Jim Brady asked one of his aides to accompany President Ronald Reagan for a speech at the Washington Hilton. At the last moment, however, Brady himself went with Reagan. It was a choice that would forever alter the life of the witty, self-deprecating man whose burly build led to the nickname “Bear.” On the way out of the hotel, Reagan was attacked by a mentally ill assassin, John Hinckley, who got off …

James Garner: Hollywood’s Whimsical Hero

As a twice-wounded U.S. Army combat veteran of the Korean War and as an actor who was frequently injured performing his own stunts, James Garner qualified as a real-life tough guy. But you’d never know it from the characters he portrayed, such as card-shark Bret Maverick and ex-con-turned-private detective Jim Rockford. They were clever, charming, self-effacing guys who seemed eager to avoid trouble, and when they were pressed into action anyway, eschewed the rough stuff and relied upon their wits …

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 …

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 …