TIME obituary

Police: Movie, TV Legend James Garner Dies

The Rockford Files -  Season 1
James Garner as Jim Rockford. NBC/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Actor James Garner, whose whimsical style in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” led to a stellar career in TV and films such as “The Rockford Files” and his Oscar-nominated “Murphy’s Romance,” has died, police said. He was 86.

He was found dead of natural causes at his home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles Saturday evening, Los Angeles police officer Alonzo Iniquez said early Sunday.

Police responded to a call around 8 p.m. PDT and confirmed Garner’s identity from family members, Iniquez told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate word on a more specific cause of death. Garner had suffered a stroke in May 2008, just weeks after his 80th birthday.

Although he was adept at drama and action, Garner was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially with his hit TV series, “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files.”

His quick-witted avoidance of conflict provided a refreshingly new take on the American hero, contrasting with the steely heroics of John Wayne and the fast trigger of Clint Eastwood.

Well into his 70s, the handsome Oklahoman remained active in both TV and film. In 2002, he was Sandra Bullock’s father in the film “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The following year, he joined the cast of “8 Simple Rules … For Dating My Teenage Daughter,” playing the grandfather on the sitcom after star John Ritter, who played the father, died during the show’s second season.

When he received the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, “I’m not at all sure how I got here.”

But in his 2011 memoir, “The Garner Files,” he provided some amusing and enlightening clues, including his penchant for bluntly expressed opinions and a practice for decking people who said something nasty to his face — including an obnoxious fan and an abusive stepmother. They all deserved it, Garner declared in his book.

It was in 1957 when the ABC network, desperate to compete on ratings-rich Sunday night, scheduled “Maverick” against CBS’s powerhouse “The Ed Sullivan Show” and NBC’s “The Steve Allen Show.” ”Maverick” soon outpolled them both.

At a time when the networks were crowded with hard-eyed, traditional Western heroes, Bret Maverick provided a fresh breath of air. With his sardonic tone and his eagerness to talk his way out of a squabble rather than pull out his six-shooter, the con-artist Westerner seemed to scoff at the genre’s values.

After a couple of years, Garner felt the series was losing its creative edge, and he found a legal loophole to escape his contract in 1960.

His first film after “Maverick” established him as a movie actor. It was “The Children’s Hour,” William Wyler’s remake of Lillian Hellman’s lesbian drama that co-starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

He followed in a successful comedy with Kim Novak, “Boys Night Out,” and then fully established his box-office appeal with the 1963 blockbuster war drama “The Great Escape” and two smash comedies with Doris Day — “The Thrill of It All” and “Move Over Darling.”

Throughout his long film career, Garner demonstrated his versatility in comedies (“The Art of Love,” ”A Man Could Get Killed,” ”Skin Game”), suspense (“36 Hours,” ”They Only Kill Their Masters,” ”Marlowe”), Westerns (“Duel at Diablo,” ”Hour of the Gun,” ”Support Your Local Gunfighter”).

In the 1980s and 1990s, when most stars his age were considered over the hill, Garner’s career remained strong.

He played a supporting role as a marshal in the 1994 “Maverick,” a big-screen return to the TV series with Mel Gibson in Garner’s old title role. His only Oscar nomination came for the 1985 “Murphy’s Romance,” a comedy about a small-town love relationship in which he co-starred with Sally Field.

His favorite film, though, was the cynical 1964 war drama “The Americanization of Emily,” which co-starred Julie Andrews.

Unlike most film stars, Garner made repeated returns to television. “Nichols” (1971-72) and “Bret Maverick” (1981-82) were short-lived, but “The Rockford Files” (1974-80) proved a solid hit, bringing him an Emmy.

Among his notable TV movies: “Barbarians at the Gate” (as tycoon F. Ross Johnson), “Breathing Lessons,” ”The Promise,” ”My Name Is Bill W.,” ”The Streets of Laredo” and “One Special Night.”

He said he learned about acting while playing a non-speaking role as a Navy juror in the 1954 Broadway hit play “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” starring Henry Fonda and Lloyd Nolan.

“I had no lines, and I had trouble staying awake,” Garner recalled.

After “Caine Mutiny,” Garner found work in Hollywood as a bit player in the “Cheyenne” TV series. Warner Bros. gave him a screen test and signed him to a seven-year contract starting at $200 a week.

The studio cast him in supporting roles in three minor films, followed by the important break as Marlon Brando’s sidekick in “Sayonara.” When Charlton Heston declined a war movie, “Darby’s Rangers,” because of a money dispute, Garner assumed the role.

“Maverick,” which co-starred Jack Kelly as brother Bart Maverick, made its debut on Sept. 22, 1957.

Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner (some references say Baumgarner) in Norman, Okla. His mother died when he was 5, and friends and relatives cared for him and his two brothers for a time while his father was to California.

In 1957, Garner married TV actress Lois Clarke, and the union prevailed despite some stormy patches. She had a daughter Kimberly from a previous marriage, and the Garners had another daughter, Gretta Scott. In the late 1990s, the Garners built a 12,000-square-foot house on a 400-acre ranch north of Santa Barbara.

“My wife and I felt … we’d just watch the sunset from the front porch,” Garner said in 2000. “But then the phone started ringing with all these wonderful offers, and we decided, ‘Heck, let’s stay in the business for a while.’”

TIME Music

Tommy Ramone, Last of the Ramones, Dies

Tommy Ramone of former U.S. punk band 'The Ramones' addresses the media in Berlin
Tommy Ramone addresses the media after a rehearsal of the musical 'Gabba Gabba Hey !' in Berlin, May 3, 2005. Arnd Wiegmann—Reuters

The Ramones forged a harder-edged, faster side to rock and influenced generations of rockers

Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of the groundbreaking punk band the Ramones, died Friday at the age of 65.

Drummer Tommy Ramone co-founded the Ramones along with singer Joey Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone in 1974 in New York. The four members all adopted the same last name with the formation of the band.

Tommy Ramone’s passing was confirmed by Dave Frey, who works for Ramones Productions and Silent Partner Management. There were no additional details about the circumstances of the death of Tommy Ramone, who was born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, reports the Associated Press.

The band’s hit songs like “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” changed the course of rock n’ roll, influencing artists from Nirvana to Green Day and Kurt Cobain. Donning their trademark leather jackets and long black mops of hair, the Ramones set a harder, faster and grungier tone for rockers to emulate.

Some of the Ramones’ best-known songs reflected their tumultuous teen years in Queens: “Beat on the Brat,” ”Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” ”Teenage Lobotomy,” ”Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”

Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose in 2002, while Johnny Ramone and Joey Ramone died of cancer in the mid aughts.

[AP]

TIME politics

Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife Dies at 82

(PITTSBURGH) — Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a newspaper publisher who funded libertarian and conservative causes and various projects to discredit President Bill Clinton, has died. He was 82.

Scaife died early Friday at his home, his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported. Scaife’s death comes less than two months after he announced in a first-person, front-page story in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had an untreatable form of cancer.

“Some who dislike me may rejoice at the news,” wrote Scaife, who acknowledged making political and other enemies. “Naturally, I can’t share their enthusiasm.”

He was the grand-nephew of Andrew Mellon, a banker and secretary of the Treasury who was involved with some of the biggest industrial companies of the early 20th century. Forbes magazine estimated Scaife’s net worth in 2013 at $1.4 billion.

The intensely private Scaife became widely known in the 1990s when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said her husband was being attacked by a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” White House staffers and other supporters suggested Scaife was playing a central role in the attack.

Several foundations controlled by Scaife gave millions of dollars to organizations run by critics of Clinton, including $1.7 million for a project at the conservative American Spectator magazine to dig up information about his role in the Whitewater real estate scandal.

Scaife rarely gave interviews, but in a sit-down with George magazine editor John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1998, he called President Clinton “an embarrassment.”

In the interview, Scaife denied that his money helped support an effort to hurt the president, but he suggested Clinton might be linked to the deaths of dozens of administration officials and associates, including White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster and onetime Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Foster’s death was determined to be a suicide; Brown died in a plane crash.

Scaife also accused Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, to be a “mole working for the Democrats.”

Scaife’s stance toward the Clintons softened years later. In an interview published in early 2008, he told Vanity Fair magazine he and the former president had a “very pleasant” lunch the previous summer, and “I never met such a charismatic man in my whole life.”

Clinton gave Scaife an autographed copy of his book, and Scaife said he later sent $100,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Scaife also said philandering “is something that Bill Clinton and I have in common.”)

Scaife’s newspaper also endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for president in 2008.

Despite funding many causes dear to conservatives, Scaife was libertarian on many social issues. He supported Planned Parenthood and abortion rights, supported legalizing same-sex marriage and marijuana, and opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Scaife bought the Tribune-Review in suburban Pittsburgh in 1969, using its editorial pages to trumpet his views.

“I fell in love with newspapers as a boy, when my father bought me editions from around the country and abroad,” Scaife told readers in the column announcing his cancer diagnosis. “The day I became a newspaper publisher, buying the Tribune-Review, remains one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life.”

Scaife was a longtime supporter of Republicans, backing presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 and heavily funding the 1968 campaign of Richard Nixon.

In 1972, Scaife donated $1 million to Nixon in 334 separate checks to avoid paying gift taxes. After The Associated Press wrote a story about the money, Scaife insisted the Tribune-Review get rid of its AP service.

“He ordered us to come in and take out the wire machines that night,” Pat Minarcin, then AP’s Pittsburgh bureau chief, told The Wall Street Journal for a 1995 story.

Scaife also made headlines in recent years during a bitter divorce battle with Margaret Ritchie Battle Scaife, his second wife. The divorce was finalized in 2012. His first marriage, to Frances Gilmore Scaife, also ended in divorce.

A Pittsburgh native, Richard Mellon Scaife was born in 1932, the son of Sarah Cordelia Mellon and Alan Magee Scaife. His mother was an alcoholic, and his upbringing has been described as cold and unhappy. He and his sister were raised by nannies.

He went to Yale but was expelled during his freshman year after a he rolled a beer keg down a flight of stairs, breaking the legs of a classmate, according to a 1999 story in The Washington Post.

Scaife admitted to becoming an alcoholic, and he had a reputation for having a fiery temper. He reportedly quit drinking in 1990 after going to the Betty Ford Clinic.

The Tribune-Review reported Scaife is survived by a daughter, Jennie K. Scaife, a son, David N. Scaife, a daughter-in-law, Sara Scaife; and two grandchildren.

The newspaper reported that a private memorial service would be held at a later date.

TIME obituary

Olympian and World War II Hero Louis Zamperini Dies at 97

Louis Zamperini gestures during a news conference, in Pasadena, Calif. Zamperini, a U.S. Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
Louis Zamperini gestures during a news conference, in Pasadena, Calif. Zamperini, a U.S. Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Nick Ut—AP

After a battle with pneumonia

Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who ran for the U.S. track and field team at the 1936 Olympics and later survived two years in Japanese prison camps, died Wednesday. He was 97 and had been battling pneumonia, his family said.

“He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia,” Zamperini’s family said in a statement. “After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”

At age 19, Zamperini—who was born to Italian immigrant parents and grew up in Torrance, Calif.—qualified to run in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, becoming the youngest-ever American Olympic qualifier for the 5,000 meters category. He placed eighth, having run his last lap in 56 seconds—a feat that caught the attention of Adolf Hitler, who insisted on meeting him. Zamperini then set his sights on the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, but his plans were interrupted by the onset of war. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941.

In 1943, Zamperini survived a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, after which he floated on an open raft for over a month before being imprisoned by Japanese sailors. Zamperini and another survivor spent the following two years in a series of prisoner of war camps, where they were subjected to repeated torture and starvation. Zamperini authored two autobiographies, one in 1956 and another in 2003, both titled Devil at My Heels. His survival story has also been chronicled by Laura Hillenbrand in her 2010 best-selling book Unbroken. A movie with the same title—based on Hillenbrand’s book and directed by Angelina Jolie—is set to be released by Universal Pictures in December.

TIME

Ex-US Sen. Howard Baker Jr. Dies

WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., a moderate Republican known as the politician who inquired what President Richard Nixon knew during the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings, has died. He was 88.

Baker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2001 until early 2005, died Thursday at his home, according to an email distributed at the law firm where Baker was senior counsel. He died as a result of complications from a stroke suffered Saturday, the email said.

The scion of a political family, Baker served 18 years in the Senate, winning widespread respect from Republicans and Democrats alike and rising to the post of majority leader.

“Senator Baker truly earned his nickname: the Great Conciliator. I know he will be remembered with fondness by members of both political parties,” Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the Senate floor Thursday, announcing Baker’s death to the chamber.

Baker was mentioned over the years as a possible vice presidential candidate, Supreme Court justice or CIA director. He rejected them all.

He ran once for president, in 1980, and thought about it several other times. And he served as White House chief of staff in the waning days of the Reagan administration.

But it was his instantly famous question — “What did the president know and when did he know it?” — that made him an enduring household name. It instantly focused the nation’s attention on the cover-up that perhaps more than the Watergate break-in itself eventually brought down Nixon’s presidency.

It came as he was serving as vice chairman, and thus leading Republican, on the Senate committee probing the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic headquarters and the cover-up by the Nixon administration.

Watergate, though it brought Baker national recognition, marked “the greatest disillusionment” of his political career, Baker said in a 1992 interview with The Associated Press.

“I believed that it was a political ploy of the Democrats, that it would come to nothing,” said Baker, who had seconded Richard Nixon’s nomination at the 1968 Republican convention. “But a few weeks into that, it began to dawn on me that there was more to it than I thought, and more to it than I liked.”

Baker, who served in a time when bipartisanship was more common in Washington, was Senate minority leader when he helped Democratic President Jimmy Carter win passage of the Panama Canal Treaty in 1978. Carter said at a 2011 symposium that Baker’s support for the divisive measure, which led to Panama regaining control of the passage, may have cost Baker the Republican nomination for president in 1980.

At the same symposium, Baker said he was still receiving letters every week from voters saying they would never forgive him for supporting the treaty.

“But that’s OK,” Baker said with a smile, “because I haven’t forgiven them either.”

He said he always considered his time as Senate majority leader, 1981 to 1985, the high point of his political career. He called it “the second-best job in town, only second to the presidency.”

He had been minority leader when the Republicans were swept into control of the chamber in the 1980 Reagan landslide and became the first Republican majority leader in decades.

Putting aside his own reservations about Reagan’s economic proposals, Baker played a key role in passage of legislation synonymous with the “Reagan Revolution” — major tax and spending cuts combined with a military buildup.

“Sometimes I’ve been angry and sometimes I’ve been happy and some days I’ve been frustrated,” Baker said in 1983 when he announced he would not seek another term in 1984. “But I can’t remember a single day when I’ve been bored.”

He left the Senate with an eye to another presidential bid in 1988, but instead returned to Washington in 1987 at Ronald Reagan’s request.

Reagan wanted Baker to replace ousted chief of staff Donald Regan amid the Iran-Contra scandal of arms-trading for hostages in Iran and diversion of profits to Nicaraguan rebels.

Baker recalled marshaling all his reasons for refusing the offer, but couldn’t turn down Reagan in the end. “I guess I am a pushover for presidents,” he said.

He and the Reagan White House weathered Iran-Contra. But Baker lost his last chance at the presidency.

“I have seen it up close and personal and I am convinced that I could do that job,” he said. “But that boat never came to dock.”

He left the White House in mid-1988 but remained involved both politically and diplomatically — traveling to Moscow in 1991 to meet with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev before a summit meeting with President George H.W. Bush.

During much of the 1980s and ’90s, Baker had to grapple with the illness of his wife, Joy. She died in 1993 after an 11-year battle with cancer.

In 1996, Baker remarried, taking as his bride Kansas Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, who was about to retire from the Senate after serving three terms. It was the first time two people who had served in the Senate had gotten married.

“Nancy and I have known each other for a long time. We share a lot of the same interests,” Baker said at the time. “And besides that, you know, love conquers a lot of things.”

During President George W. Bush’s first term, from 2001 to early 2005, Baker served as ambassador to Japan. His selection was in keeping with a tradition of selecting senior statesmen to represent the United States in Tokyo. His predecessors included Former House Speaker Tom Foley, Vice President Walter Mondale and Mike Mansfield, another former Senate majority leader.

More recently, Baker served as co-chair of a blue-ribbon commission on the national parks that in 2009 urged that Congress increase spending by at least $100 million per year to help improve and preserve the parks.

Baker was born in 1925 to a deeply political and staunchly Republican family in tiny Huntsville, Tenn. His neighbors called him “Howard Henry” or “Henry” to distinguish him from his father.

His father, Howard H. Baker Sr., served in the U.S. House from 1951 until he died in 1964. His stepmother, Irene Bailey Baker, won a special election and served the balance of his term. His grandmother Lillie Ladd Mauser once served as sheriff of Roane County, Tenn.

In 1951, Baker married Joy Dirksen, whose father, Everett Dirksen, was a U.S. senator from Illinois and Senate GOP leader for 10 years. Baker’s second wife also had a famous father: Alf Landon, onetime Kansas governor and 1936 GOP presidential nominee.

Baker received a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1949 and was a partner in a firm with offices in Knoxville and Washington. He also served on several corporate boards.

In 2008, the University of Tennessee opened its Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, which includes a museum and study center focusing on how the government grapples with issues amid the rough and tumble of party politics. It houses the papers and archives of dozens of political leaders, including Baker.

Baker and his first wife had two children: Darek, born in 1953, and Cynthia, known as “Cissy,” born in 1956.

Baker, an accomplished amateur photographer, was known to carry a camera with him wherever he went. But he didn’t take any photos during the Watergate hearings.

“I felt that it was beneath the dignity of the event,” he said years later. “It turned out the event had no dignity and I should have taken pictures.”

TIME obituary

Versatile Actor Eli Wallach Dies at 98

Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood
Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2011 Lucas Jackson—Reuters

The New York City native held roles in more than 80 films over the course of his six-decade career

Eli Wallach, the prolific American actor who spent more than half a century working in film, has died at the age of 98.

Wallach began as a stage actor in the early 1950s but soon found his way to Hollywood. Between his first movie role in 1956′s Baby Doll and his last in 2010′s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, he found work in more than 80 films.

He was a “great performer,” Clint Eastwood said when presenting Wallach with an honorary Oscar in 2010, “and a great friend.” In 1966, Eastwood and Wallach co-starred in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, beginning a close friendship.

“As an actor, Wallach is the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote of him.

Wallach’s death on Tuesday was confirmed by his daughter Katherine.

TIME remembrance

Elvis Duran’s Top Casey Kasem Memory

Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem on Nov. 10, 2003, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Chris Polk / FilmMagic / Getty Images

The Morning Show host discusses the influence of Casey Kasem, who died June 15 at 82

I never met Casey Kasem, but my strongest memory of him is from when I started off in radio. I was 14 years old, growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I was hired to “board-op” American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. Growing up listening to AT40 made me want to get into radio — but when I had to produce the sound of his show on the radio station, I got to know him even better.

They would deliver the American Top 40 show to the station on vinyl albums. I would start at the beginning, he would count down and then he would take a commercial break, and I was the one who put the commercials on. When the commercials were over, I would push the button again and he would start back. One time — it would have been 1980 or 1979 — I went to a commercial break and I came back and put the wrong album on and went directly to the Number 1 song. That’s when I realized the power of Casey Kasem. I realized if I made a mistake how many people were affected by it and how many people hated me instantly, because they would all call and complain.

He was so important for people coming up in the ranks of radio, to understand that connection between the person on the microphone at the station and the person listening. The way Casey told stories with his long-distance dedications and the way he described how these artists were doing everything they could to get their songs to go up the chart, it was listening to a friend tell a story every time he opened his microphone. That’s the connection we still try to maintain every day. That’s what keeps radio alive. — as told to Lily Rothman

Elvis Duran is host of the nationally syndicated Elvis Duran and the Morning Show

Read more about Casey Kasem in this week’s issue of TIME

TIME remembrance

Why Casey Kasem Mattered

Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem poses for a publicity still circa 1990 in Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images

During a tumultuous time, Kasem—who died June 15 at 82—made music less divisive

Casey Kasem was one of the most important disc-jockeys in the history of radio. While Alan Freed is often credited with the rowdy rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the mid 1950s and Tom Donahue with the creation of free-form FM radio in the ‘60s, Kasem’s contribution gently defied the increasingly divisive changes in radio that marked the 1970s. From its first broadcast in 1970, his “America’s Top 40” counted down hit songs in a dizzyingly diverse array of styles. What kept it all together was Kasem himself—that distinctive voice and genial, charmingly earnest on-air persona. As Dick Clark did on television, Kasem helped bring an often splintered nation together around pop music.

Grounded in 1950s and ‘60s regional AM radio, Kasem’s style seemed old school the day he emerged on the national scene. But Kasem was more than a DJ: he was a host. Not long after families had gathered around the TV to watch Elvis or the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Kasem brought the variety-show approach back to syndicated radio, broadcasting coast to coast. Unlike variety hosts of radio’s golden age in the 1930s and 40s (such as Bing Crosby), Casey did not have the artists available in the studio to provide a few words and the personal touch. Instead, Kasem cleverly emphasized artists’ personal lives with engaging facts and brief bios, adding tear-jerking dedications from listeners to the mix.

With such a wide stylistic range of songs in the countdown, there were always songs you didn’t like; nevertheless, you continued to listen. Who could tune out? What song would be number one? “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger,” Casey would often tease. You felt like you knew the artists, the other listeners, and the optimistic, well-wishing master of ceremonies. This was more than a radio show: it was a gathering of friends. While Kasem also enjoyed a broad range of success as an announcer and voice actor, it is this work as radio host that has made its mark in history.

John Covach is Director of the University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music.

Read more about Casey Kasem in this week’s issue of TIME

TIME Baseball

Tony Gwynn Was a Joy to Watch at the Plate, and in Life

San Diego Padres' Tony Gwynn removes his batting g
Tony Gwynn in September, 2001. MIKE FIALA—AFP/Getty Images

sportsillustrated

What Tony Gwynn did even better than “carving” base hits through “the 5.5 hole” between third base and shortstop — something he did so often and so well he owned the concept the way Willie Mays did the basket catch and Sandy Koufax the curveball — was to make people smile. Gwynn loved baseball through and through. He could not hide his enthusiasm for feeling the dirt and grass under his feet, which is why after hitting .338 over 20 years of major league baseball and earning $47 million he went to San Diego State to coach college kids on how to play and love this beautiful game.

Quick: name another Hall of Famer in baseball’s era of economic boom who took to coaching college kids. Stuck? Thought so.

Today baseball is a little less beautiful. Tony Gwynn and that sweet smile and infectious, childish giggle of his are gone. Gwynn died at age 54 after a four-year battle against cancer in his salivary gland, a vicious disease that people will connect to his use of smokeless tobacco, the vile habit that is still too common in the game.

Gwynn’s Hall of Fame plaque calls him “an artisan with the bat,” and one of the great pleasures for anybody covering baseball in the 1980s and ’90s was to sit down with the artisan and talk hitting. Gwynn was as prolific a talker as he was a hitter, the observations and theories flying from him like line drives sprayed around the outfield.

SI VAULT: How Tony Gwynn became the best hitter in baseball (09.18.95)

Only once did I see Gwynn’s cherubic face turned sour. It was after Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Batting against New York’s David Wells in a tie game in the fifth inning, Gwynn crushed the first pitch into the upper deck in rightfield at Yankee Stadium. The renowned singles hitter had just made like the Bambino himself. Jaws dropped in the press box. The Padres would lose the game, but the writers made their way to Gwynn afterward to learn more about this uncharacteristic home run. Now, Gwynn was the go-to guy in the San Diego clubhouse whether the Padres won or lost, whether he went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4. He was always available, insightful and courteous. And yet this time, when reporters didn’t hide their astonishment that Gwynn had hit a ball so high and so far, Gwynn barked back a bit. He barely looked up and gave a clipped answer. His pride was hurt.

After the group session broke up, I walked up to Gwynn and complimented him on showing the restraint that he did.

“Have they seen me play before?” he said to me. “It’s not like it’s the first home run I’ve ever hit. I’ve hit a few before and I’ve hit a few longer than that. Give me a break.”

SI VAULT: A tribute to Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer (07.25.07)

Indeed, while the singular skill of shooting line drives through the hole into leftfield defined him, it also overshadowed his athletic excellence. In 1987, Gwynn hit .370 while stealing 56 bases. It remains the only time in the past 92 years anybody hit .370 with at least 50 steals. The only other players to ever do so were George Sisler, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Benny Kauff.

Gwynn played 20 years and never struck out more than 40 times. He had more doubles than strikeouts in his career. In fact, he is one of only five players in the history of the game with more than 500 doubles and fewer than 500 strikeouts, keeping company with Hall of Famers from eras long gone: Paul Waner, Charlie Gehringer, Tris Speaker and Nap Lajoie. He had the bat control of a deadball star in the modern game while still flashing extra-base power.

Gwynn enjoyed a great friendship with Ted Williams and talked hitting with his fellow San Diegan on levels only the virtuosos understand. Williams loved to talk about the barrel of the bat coming up to met the baseball with a slight angle; Gwynn simply dropped the barrel down and through the baseball with a bat so small he used to refer to it as his “peashooter.”

Gwynn was a fervent student of the game. He was one of the first players who dove into the video age. His wife would travel around with a video cassette player — the old Betamax used in those days was as big as a suitcase — and tape his at-bats. Gwynn would watch the tapes after games in his hotel room on the road. Sometimes he would cover the TV set with a sheet of plastic wrap and draw with a wax marker, often to make sure his head didn’t move during his swing or that his body kept its center of balance.

Gwynn seemed to have the mysteries of hitting figured out better than most, like one of those Rubik’s cube masters who can solve the puzzle blindfolded in seconds. And yet he worked and studied at his craft more than most. Baseball never seemed to be work for the man who was called “Mr. Padre.”

All of his amazing numbers, however, don’t tell the true story of Tony Gwynn. He was an ambassador not just for the game of baseball but for mankind. His dignity and modesty were remarkable in any age, but especially this one, in which the individual who shouts the loudest about himself gets the most fame, and we have confused fame with character. Gwynn won the 1995 Branch Rickey Award, the 1998 Lou Gehrig Award and the 1999 Roberto Clemente Award, all honors given to baseball players for their character and humanitarianism, not just their batting skills.

Gwynn will be missed by those who never met him for his extraordinary skills at a very difficult game. He will be missed by those who knew him, whether for a minute or a lifetime, for his smile and his generosity. He is gone much too soon, and deserves every one of the tributes and honors that will mark his passing, none of which would be greater than the next ballplayer who gives up smokeless tobacco.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Television

Somehow Forming a Family: Why We Loved The Brady Bunch‘s Alice

Played by Ann B. Davis, who died over the weekend, Alice represented something that was becoming familiar in people's complicated lives if not on TV: the non-parent parent.

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In the famous opening grid of The Brady Bunch‘s title sequence, the character who occupies the center square is not a parent or a child but Alice the housekeeper. (As a kid, I had a heavy diet of Hollywood Squares episodes and Brady Bunch reruns, and therefore forever had Alice and Paul Lynde weirdly conjoined in my mind.) Played by Ann B. Davis, who died after a fall on May 31 at age 88, Alice was the connecting tissue of the group that somehow formed a family.

As a kid watching the Bradys, maybe you identified with Jan or Bobby or another kid, maybe you had affection for Mike and Carol–but Alice was the one you loved. She was an employee, yes, but a friend and a confidante. She was the adult on the show who was most often allowed to be flat-out, broadly funny. Mike had to be patient and befuddled; Carol warm and wise. But Alice got to be smart, self-effacing, flustered, and straight-talking, and Davis played her with a comic arsenal of comic moves and gestures–that peppy voice, those talented eyebrows–and just a touch of relatable melancholy. (Oh, Sam the Butcher!)

The character was also a connection between TV eras. On the one hand, she was a throwback to the early days of TV sitcoms, when housekeeper and maid characters were more commonplace, from Hazel to The Jetsons’ Rosie. (While she had successors, like The Jeffersons‘ Florence, the wisecracking household worker isn’t so common anymore.) But on the other hand, she connected with a change that, in the early ’70s, was emerging in American families, in which figures other than two parents were central in kids’ lives.

Like a lot of childhood TV memories, The Brady Bunch is loved not so much for its artistry as for its emotional connections. The Brady family was big, it was blended, and it felt like there was room for everyone. Putting two families together on TV was unusual at the time, and it spoke to the number of kids who recognized divorce and remarriage from their own lives. Yes, Mike was a widower, and Carol’s status was never clarified–a compromise after Sherwood Schwartz wanted her to be a divorcée–but anyone watching knew what the show was really depicting. It turned something commonly depicted as tragedy into a triumph–a family coming together by choice.

And Alice–an employee, after all–was there by choice more than anyone. Nothing was making her stay, and yet she did. An early episode (see video, above), “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” addressed this directly, as Alice almost left (concocting a story about a “sick aunt”) because she worried the kids didn’t need her anymore. In typical Brady style, this led to hijinks–the whole family undertaking “Operation Alice” to convince her that she was needed–but really the necessity was plain in sight. The Brady house was an operation with a lot of moving parts.

Most of us watching The Bradys didn’t have full-time household help whipping up pork chops and applesauce. But we were, more and more, familiar with the parent-plus model of child-rearing: extended family, or paid caregivers, or family friends who occupied our lives and filled the gaps left by family breakups or busy work schedules.

For some of us, Alice reflected the accessory parents we had in our own lives. For others, she was one of those accessory parents–a familiar presence on the TV in an empty house, dishing out one-liners and companionship. We loved her because she made us laugh, and because she told us something we already knew: that you didn’t have to be blood to be family, you didn’t have to be related to relate. RIP, Ann B. Davis.

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