Patrick Kiger

Journalist Patrick J. Kiger tells the stories of people who make their mark in ways big and small.
Nancy Reagan
During her husband Ronald Reagan’s presidency from 1981 to 1989, former movie star Nancy Reagan was one of the most stylish and influential first ladies ever. But arguably, Mrs. Reagan, who passed away March 6 at age 94 in Los Angeles, made just as big an impact upon America after she and her husband left the White House.
Harper Lee smiling
In 1960, a first-time author named Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel blended a young Southern girl’s coming-of-age story with a provocative account of her attorney father’s losing struggle to defend an African American man falsely accused of rape. The best-seller won a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most iconic works in modern American literature.
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If there was a band that epitomized the zeitgeist of the mid-1970s, it was the Eagles, a quintet of laid-back troubadours who filled sports stadiums with fans clamoring to hear “Take It Easy,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Hotel California,” “Already Gone” and other hits.
Alan Rickman
British actor Alan Rickman’s dozens of roles ranged from the husband who strayed and quickly regretted it in Love, Actually (2003) to a terrorist leader in action thriller Die Hard (1988). But Rickman, who died Jan. 14 at age 69, probably resonated most with millions of Harry Potter fans as Severus Snape, the icy, humorless potion-mixing magic instructor in the hit movie franchise.
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When David Bowie burst into America’s consciousness in the early 1970s, he was the sort of pop music star the world had never seen before — an androgynous, pasty-faced English enigma with a bouffant of flaming red hair, who sang not of romance or fast cars, but of an extraterrestrial savior coming to rescue our planet from itself.
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Natalie Cole, the daughter of legendary pop and jazz crooner Nat King Cole, was such a talented singer in her own right that she could have changed her name and still been a huge star.
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With his imposing stature and deep voice, Fred Thompson, who played district attorney Arthur Branch on the long-running TV series Law & Order, was utterly believable as a tough-but-wise authority figure.
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With her flamboyantly fiery tresses, porcelain complexion and emerald green eyes, Maureen O’Hara was made for Technicolor. But it wasn’t on her Irish looks alone that O’Hara, who passed away on Oct. 24 at age 95 in Boise, Idaho, became the leading lady of such classics as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952). Her most compelling quality, she wrote in her 2004 autobiography, was “my inner strength, something I am easily able to share with an audience.”
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You might not recognize Cory Wells by name, but you undoubtedly know his voice – in particular, his vocal on Three Dog Night's 1970 chart-topping single "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," in which he artfully feigns panic after wandering into a particularly debauched soiree:
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Baseball Hall of Famer Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, who passed away Sept. 22 at age 90 in West Caldwell, N.J., had one of the most fantastic careers anybody could imagine. From 1946 to 1965, he was a 15-time All-Star, three-time American League MVP and member of 10 World Series champion teams as a New York Yankee.
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