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 …

Polly Bergen: An Entertainer Who Did It All

Actresses and singers come and go, but Polly Bergen had a multifaceted entertainment career that stretched from 1949 to 2012 because she was a star at just about everything she tried. Bergen, who died on Sept. 20 at age 84 in Southbury, Conn., won an Emmy in 1958 for her portrayal of alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan on Playhouse 90, and she made a lasting impression on the big screen as the terrorized wife of a lawyer (Gregory Peck) stalked by 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 …