Dick Van Patten: America’s Favorite Dad in ‘Eight Is Enough’

Actor Dick Van Patten might have been America’s favorite fictional dad in the late 1970s/early 1980s for his role on the TV sitcom Eight Is Enough: Tom Bradford, a widower who married his son’s tutor (Betty Buckley) and formed a chaotic but loving new family unit with her. >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 But in a career that spanned seven decades, Van Patten, who died June 22 at age 86 in Santa Monica, Calif., played a wealth of …

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 …

In Memoriam — Al Martinez: More Than a Life Well-Lived

His voice was deep; his soul was too. His humor made you rock with laughter; his insight rocked your world. I never got to squeeze Al Martinez’s hand or give him a hug, though I often wanted to. We lived six hours apart, but when we talked by phone, Al, who died Jan. 12, was in my living room, sitting next to my desk. We laughed at each other’s jokes and exchanged sometimes thoughtful, sometimes silly emails about the topics …

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 …

Jimmy Ruffin: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

If only a casual fan of classic 1960s soul music, you might easily confuse Jimmy Ruffin with his younger brother David, who rose to much greater fame as lead singer of the Temptations. But it was Jimmy Ruffin, who passed away Nov. 17 at age 78 in Las Vegas, who scored one of the most iconic Motown hits, an anthem of lost love entitled “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” It climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart …