Robert Strauss, Former Democratic Chairman, Dealmaker, Dies at 95

Robert S. Strauss, who died March 19 at age 95, was a Washington insider back when that was a compliment. The New York Times obituary called the former Democratic chairman a “kingmaker” in a bygone era when party leaders held a lot more power. “A loud, sometimes profane backslapper, he made his name in the nation’s capital as a persuasive back-room trouble-shooter, a virtuoso of hardball negotiation and gentle suasion,” BusinessWeek wrote. Strauss helped some Democrats like Jimmy Carter get …

Ed Lauter: He Played the Characters You Loved to Loathe

Unless you’re the rare moviegoer or TV viewer who watches all the end credits, the name Ed Lauter probably won’t ring a bell. But you’d surely  recognize his balding pate, angular nose and jutting, dimpled chin, and his narrow, perpetually squinting eyes. Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter In his four decades as an actor, Lauter, who died on Oct. 16 at age 74 in West Hollywood, Calif., appeared in more than 200 roles. They ranged from appearances in TV series …

Tom Clancy: Insurance Man Turned Mega-Novelist

Toiling by day at an insurance agency in the 1970s, Tom Clancy dreamed of writing bestselling action thrillers. Unlike most would-be novelists, Clancy, who died on Oct. 1 at age 66 in Baltimore, had two things going for him. First, he had a great idea for a story (inspired by a newspaper article about Soviet sailors who’d tried to defect), in which a Red submarine captain stages a clever ploy to switch sides, with the help of an intrepid CIA agent named …

He Helped Solve the Mystery of Lyme Disease

In the 1970s, a cluster of cases of unexplained severe joint pain and swelling was breaking out in a small three-township area in Connecticut, as a 1976 New York Times article detailed. Fortunately, the mysterious affliction soon came to the attention of a team of Yale University medical researchers headed by rheumatology chief Dr. Stephen E. Malawista, who passed away on Sept. 19 at age 79 in Hamden, Conn. Malawista and his colleagues – Dr. Allen C. Steere and Dr. …

Ronald Motley: The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco

If Ronald Lee Motley hadn’t existed, some novelist or screenwriter surely would have made him up: a high-powered, flamboyant attorney with a smooth-as-silk Southern drawl who fancied ostrich-skin cowboy boots and liked to sail on a 165-foot yacht named after Themis, the female Greek titan of law, whenever he wasn’t in a courtroom whacking corporate bigwigs around like so many piñatas. Motley, who died on Aug. 22 at age 68 in Charleston, S.C., was both so larger-than-life colorful and so effective …

Julie Harris: 5 of Her Most Powerful Performances

Julie Harris took up acting because she was self-conscious about her looks as a young girl. “I looked so plain – bands on my teeth, bird legs, mouse face, hair that wouldn’t curl,” she once explained in an interview. That self-deprecating description didn’t really do justice to the red-haired actress’s delicate, almost fragile appearance. But what really resonated about Harris, who died on Aug. 24 at age 87 in Chatham, Mass., was her masterful power and amazing versatility as a …