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.
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.
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.
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.
As a writer of steamy, salacious fiction about the rich and famous, Jackie Collins might have been a bigger star than her big sister Joan, the scheming Alex Carrington in the 1980s prime-time soap opera Dynasty. Jackie, who passed away Sept. 19 at age 77 in Los Angeles, churned out more than three dozen books — from Hollywood Wives and Rock Star to The Power Trip. Scantily clad beauties and shirtless male hunks on the covers gave a pretty good indication of what took place on the pages inside, perfect reading for the beach or monotonous travels.
Oliver Sacks was perhaps the only neurologist to inspire a hit Hollywood film, 1990's Awakenings starring Robin Williams. The movie was based on Sacks' 1973 memoir about his work with encephalitis patients, one of 14 books by the physician and professor turned author, who passed away Aug. 30 at age 82 in New York City having helped millions of readers understand the myriad peculiarities and wonders of the human brain.
In the 1960s, student civil rights activist-turned-Georgia legislator Julian Bond, who passed away Aug. 15 at age 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., cut such a charismatic figure with his slim, handsome looks and dazzling gift for oratory that some envisioned him becoming the first African-American U.S. President.
E.L. Doctorow took the art of historical novels a step beyond by reimagining historical figures as fictional characters. In his most famous work, the 1975 best-seller Ragtime, Doctorow, who passed away on July 21 in New York at age 84, set a cast that includes Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, Henry Ford and Booker T. Washington interact in scenes that never happened and yet reveal so much about the characters.
With his dark, dashing looks and commanding presence, Egyptian-born Omar Sharif dominated the big screen in such epics as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).
If you're a fan of the Burt's Bees line of natural, environmentally friendly personal care products, you might have assumed that the Walt-Whitman lookalike on the label was a generic hippie dreamed up by marketing experts.
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