Rod McKuen: 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Pop Poet

Literary critics never had much love for Rod McKuen, who passed away on Jan. 30 at age 81 in Beverly Hills. Not that it mattered to his legions of fans. McKuen’s volumes of poetry, including Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows and Listen to the Warm, sold 60 million copies. In addition, McKuen was a prolific songwriter whose lyrics were interpreted by performers ranging from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Johnny Cash. His own gravelly, breathy recording of “Jean,” which he composed for …

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 …

Eli Wallach: The Good, the Bad and the Brilliant

Eli Wallach is burned into our memories as the “Ugly” in Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. As Tuco Ramí­rez, the malevolent but clownish bandit who tangles with a bounty hunter (Clint Eastwood) and a cold-blooded killer (Lee Van Cleef) over a cache of Confederate gold, Wallach gave a performance that was lauded as “inspired” by critic Roger Ebert, who wrote that “Wallach took this low-rent role seriously and made something evocative out of it.” …

Casey Kasem: America’s DJ

American Top 40 founding host Casey Kasem, who for nearly a half century counted down the hits on nationally syndicated radio and TV shows, invariably signed off with the words, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” See also: Four Ways to Avoid the Casey Kasem Nightmare Kasem, who died in Gig Harbor, Wash., on June 15 at age 82, had none of Wolfman Jack’s histrionics and could be a jarring contrast to the jadedness and rebellion …

Bob Hoskins: A Likable British Tough Guy

British actor Bob Hoskins was known to joke that if a film were to be made about him, Danny DeVito would be perfect for the role.   Indeed, at a roly-poly five feet six inches, with his bullet-shaped head crowned by a sparse widow’s peak, Hoskins – who died on April 29 in England at age 71 – was hardly physically imposing, nor Hollywood handsome. “Not even my mum would call me pretty,” he admitted in a 2009 interview. >> Sign up for the …

Joe McGinniss: The Journalist As ‘Psychological Detective’

Some writers are myth-makers. Joe McGinniss, who died on March 10 at age 71 in Worchester, Mass., was the opposite. Whether McGinniss was writing about the repackaging of Richard Nixon in The Selling of the President 1968 or Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book Fatal Vision, McGinness liked to get up close and personal with a subject, gradually peel away a carefully crafted public persona like the leaves of an artichoke. In doing so, he usually became part of the story …