TIME remembrance

Diane Von Furstenberg Remembers Oscar de la Renta, ‘Renaissance Man’

From Left: Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta attend a function at Lincoln Center in new York City on Sept. 5, 2012.
From Left: Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta attend a function at Lincoln Center in new York City on Sept. 5, 2012. Fairchild Photo Service/Condé Nast/Corbis

He made women feel like flowers

Oscar de la Renta was one of the greatest American designers ever. He adored women and made them beautiful. He loved flowers and he made women feel like flowers. He was a Renaissance man, the most elegant man, who befriended and was as beloved by queens and first ladies, as by seamstresses and gardeners. He was compassionate, generous and a great philanthropist. A leader in the industry, he connected with people of all ages. A skillful couturier trained in Europe and a passionate Latin man with an amazing optimism and love of life, his aesthetic sense extended to all of his surroundings, from his clothes to his homes to his gardens. He loved art and music and he loved to sing. He created joy everywhere he went.

I met Oscar when I first moved to New York. We became friends and I bought my house in Connecticut to be close to him. Every year, my husband and I spent time with him and his wife, Annette, on our boat. He loved to swim in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. He was forever grateful to be alive and we are forever grateful to have known him. He will stay in our hearts forever.

Diane Von Furstenberg is Founder and Co-Chairman, DVF Studio.

TIME remembrance

Benjamin Bradlee, Esteemed Editor of the Washington Post, Dies at 93

Became famous for editing the newspaper during its groundbreaking coverage of the Watergate scandal

Benjamin Bradlee, who edited the Washington Post during the period when the newspaper published articles based on the Pentagon Papers and broke the Watergate story which eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, has died at age 93.

Bradlee helmed the Post from 1968 to 1991, and became famous after the paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, when burglaries of the Democratic National Committee offices were linked to Nixon’s office, setting off a chain of events that eventually forced the president to resign. He was played by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men, which told the story of the Post’s discovery and coverage of the scandal.

He became close friends with John F. Kennedy when he was assigned to cover the his presidential campaign for Newsweek, but he had an advantage over the other reporters; he lived on the same Georgetown block as the young candidate, and they shared a back alley.

“I don’t want to disappoint too many people, but … the number of interesting political, historical conversations we had, you could stick in your ear,” recalled Bradlee about his friend. “We talked about girls.”

Bradlee’s Newsweek remembrance of JFK after his assassination became a book, That Special Grace. In 2013, Bradlee was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

TIME remembrance

Ben Bradlee’s Electric Glow

Ben Bradlee on Oct. 1, 1995.
Ben Bradlee on Oct. 1, 1995. Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte—Corbis

A former Washington Post reporter remembers a legendary newspaperman who lived off gossip, palled around with the Kennedys and was the most celebrated editor of his time

Charisma is a word, like thunderstorm or orgasm, which sits pretty flat on the page or the screen compared with the actual experience it tries to name. I don’t recall exactly when I first looked it up in the dictionary and read that charisma is a “personal magic of leadership,” a “special magnetic charm.” But I remember exactly when I first felt the full impact of the thing itself.

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was gliding through the newsroom of the Washington Post, pushing a sort of force field ahead of him like the bow wave of a vintage Chris-Craft motor yacht. All across the vast expanse of identical desks, faces turned toward him — were pulled in his direction — much as a field of flowers turns toward the sun. We were powerless to look away.

This was after his storied career as editor of the Post had ended. I was the first reporter hired at the paper after Bradlee retired in 1991 to a ceremonial office on the corporate floor upstairs. For that reason, I never saw him clothed in the garb of authority. He no longer held the keys to the front page and the pay scales, so his force didn’t spring from those sources. Nor did it derive from his good looks, his elegance or his many millions worth of company stock.

I realized I was face to face with charisma, a quality I had wrongly believed I understood until Bradlee reached the desk where I was sitting and the bow wave pushed me back in my chair. It is pointless for me to try to describe this essence, because in that moment I realized that it cannot be observed or critiqued. Charisma can only be felt. It is a palpable something-more-ness — magical, magnetic — as rare as the South China tiger. I’ve met famous writers, directors, actors, athletes, billionaires, five Presidents of the United States, and none of them had it like Bradlee.

Which made him an odd fit, in a way, for the newspaper business. Set aside, for the moment, the improbable heroics of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, which would never have happened as they did without the peculiar protagonist Richard M. Nixon. The overwhelming bulk of the newspaper life is forgettable stories cranked out in mediocre fashion, the latest snowstorm, ballgame, traffic accident, charity dinner, Senate election, drought, chicken recipe. Having Bradlee sit down at your table in the Post’s lunchroom, where he often dined with the troops amid the plastic trays and sad salads, was like having Sinatra plop down beside you at a Trailways bus station. Great stuff, but you couldn’t help thinking that something was being squandered, that he really ought to be elsewhere, bedding Grace Kelly at the Hotel Hermitage in Monaco, or stealing the Mona Lisa, or outwitting Dr. No.

Ordinary news hacks — even the best of them — do not pal around, as Bradlee did, with John F. Kennedy and Lauren Bacall. They do not, as Bradlee did, arrange the sale of Newsweek by the Astors to the Grahams. They do not, as Bradlee did, have a sister-in-law whose mysterious death prompts a clandestine visit from the CIA’s top spymaster, desperate to retrieve her diary. They do not, as Bradlee did, live in a mansion that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln’s son.

Yet Ben wore all this with impossible ease, just as he wore his handmade shirts from London’s Jermyn Street as casually as a mortal wears Land’s End. God, those shirts — as beautiful and numerous as Gatsby’s, but minus the stain of anxiety. Only three types of men wore shirts like that: toffs, posers and Ben.

Anyway: impossible ease. He sized people up in an instant (of one failed job applicant he growled simply, “nothing clanks when he walks”) and met them as they were. He was the same fellow chatting with a movie star as he was with my father-in-law, a retired electrician with whom he swapped stories of card games in the Navy. When I introduced him to my nephew, another Benjamin, he bent to look the boy in the eye and said in a brotherly tone, “They can call you Ben, and they can call you Benjamin — but don’t ever let ’em call you Benjie!”

What made Bradlee a great newspaperman was that he had exactly the right blend of intelligence and impatience, plus an infectious hunger to be in the know. Feeding Ben a good bit of gossip was like turning over the last card of an ace-high straight, with his wide-eyed smile as the payout. He also had a restless attention span, so his reporters vied relentlessly to find stories sexy and important enough to catch and hold his interest. Whole sections of the Post went almost entirely unnoticed by him — his response to news that the paper’s dance critic had won the Pulitzer Prize was “Who the hell nominated him?” But the parts of the paper that Bradlee cared about were bright, bewitching and boffo.

(Ben had a thing about ballet coverage. He once summed up his animus toward the New York Times by noting, “it’s a paper with four f-cking dance critics!”)

As Shakespeare would appreciate, these gifts had a downside, and when it was revealed Bradlee experienced the low point of his career. A reporter named Janet Cooke decided to dazzle the editor with an invented story, because she couldn’t find a real one hot enough to do the trick. Plenty of people, inside and outside the newsroom, were skeptical of Cooke’s tall tale of an 8-year-old heroin addict with no last name and rather stilted diction. They noticed that the story was untethered by geography, dates and on-the-record sources. But Bradlee believed in it, and he was all that mattered, bigger than all the skeptics, bigger than the fail-safes, bigger even than the Pulitzer committee that awarded Cooke a prize for feature writing. The prize had to be returned when the lies unraveled.

It was around that time, 1981, that young Don Graham, successor-in-waiting to his remarkable mother, Post publisher Katharine Graham, clearly realized that there would never be — could never be — another Bradlee. Plenty of wannabes stalked the newsroom, wearing bespoke shirts and trying to copy Ben’s way of snarling out cuss words while grinning incandescently. When it came time to anoint Bradlee’s successor, however, Graham passed over all of them in favor of an unglamorous Midwesterner. Len Downie did not push out a bow wave. He was, in some ways, the anti-Ben. But if there was a better all-around newspaper editor, I don’t know who it was.

Ben sailed on as the one and only. In his later years, he groused amiably that he was just a museum piece, his office merely another “stop on the tour” of the Post. As newspaper circulation and profits sank year after year, Bradlee never indulged in second-guessing or armchair quarterbacking — petty pastimes that would have been beneath him. Though he was the most celebrated newspaper editor of his lifetime, perhaps the most celebrated of all time, he pronounced himself baffled by the competitive pressures of the digital age, and thankful that his era was the era of expansion and wealth.

I’m thankful too. For only the adrenaline charge of those go-go years, the generation after World War II, could have drawn such a man to the newspaper game. And the fact that Ben Bradlee was a part of it, never mind the prizes and the books and the movies — just the fact of Bradlee, the force, the charisma, threw an electric glow over the whole business and made it a joy to go to work. Though his ship passed over the horizon, he left a luminous trail dancing in his wake.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the location of the London shirtmaker where Bradlee ordered his dress shirts. It was Turnbull & Asser on Jermyn Street.

Read next: Jill Abramson: Ben Bradlee Was Luminescent

TIME Style

‘Oscar’s Hairdo’: How to Create de la Renta’s Signature 1969 Updo

Society Ball New York
The society ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Jan. 19, 1970. A woman wears "Oscar's Hairdo." Ron Frehm—AP

Get a TIME tutorial on the vintage style named after the late, great designer

Oscar de la Renta, the acclaimed fashion designer who died Monday at 82, will likely be best remembered for providing dresses for First Ladies and movie stars alike. In the late 1960s, however, he was also famous for something that was a lot less complicated than a couture gown: a messy hairdo.

The style — what might be called a “messy bun” in today’s YouTube hair tutorial lingo — was known in the U.S. as “Oscar’s hairdo” because, in November 1969, he had every model in his spring collection wear the style. The look, which TIME described as “skillfully composed to look as if it had been dragged through a thornbush backward” was alternately known as Belle Époque (because it resembled ‘dos of that era), the Onion (for British fashionistas), the Char (because it made you look like a charwoman, or cleaning lady), Concierge (in France) or Goulue (after the can-can dancer). LIFE Magazine even added it could be called “The Washerwoman.” It was originally conceived by Paris coiffeur Christophe Carita in 1968, perhaps inspired by Brigitte Bardot, and New York hairdresser Kenneth told TIME that its sex appeal may have come from the idea that if you could find the hairpin that’s holding it up “in a matter of seconds it will all be out on the pillow.”

Here’s how you create the look, as per TIME:

The front is pulled loosely up and back into a topknot. Underneath, along with the remainder of the hair, can generally be found several ounces of wool twine or a nylon mesh cushion, the better to swell the structure to second-head proportions. Hanging down at strategic intervals (at the temples, around the ears, and down the back of the neck), are separate, curling tendrils of hair. The whole thing may look like the work of a bird who flunked nest building.

Despite the many ironic names for the style, and this magazine’s implication that it was a ridiculous idea to pay to end up with messy hair — $17.50 at a Manhattan salon, a price that might cause today’s New Yorkers to faint in gratitude — Oscar’s Hairdo has proved to have staying power: Glamour has declared that the “coming-undone style” will be one of next spring’s hottest looks.

Read TIME’s review of Oscar de la Renta’s 1993 debut as the first American designer to head a Paris couture house, here in the archives: Mais Oui, Oscar!

TIME remembrance

Oscar de la Renta’s Life in Photos

A look back at the life of the iconic fashion designer

Oscar de La Renta passed away Tuesday at the age of 82. Born in the Dominican Republic, the iconic fashion designer first became famous in the 1960s for dressing Jackie Kennedy, and since then has designed outfits for several First Ladies as well as the cream of Hollywood society. Take a look back at his life in pictures.

TIME remembrance

World-Renowned Fashion Designer Oscar de la Renta Dies Aged 82

2014 Medal Carnegie Hall Of Excellence Gala Honoring Oscar De La Renta - Concert
Designer Oscar de la Renta attends the 2014 Carnegie Hall Medal Of Excellence Gala Honoring Oscar De La Renta at The Plaza Hotel on April 24, 2014 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

Fashion guru shot to fame in the 1960s after dressing Jackie Kennedy

World-renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta passed away Monday at the age of 82.

He died after a long battle with cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 2006, ABC News reports.

De la Renta is famous for designing red-carpet gowns for the cream of A-list celebrities over the past 50 years.

He first became known internationally in the 1960s when he dressed Jackie Kennedy, and since then continued to cater for several First Ladies as well as Hollywood’s top stars. Michelle Obama wore him for the first time ever a couple weeks ago, and he also designed Amal Clooney’s wedding dress.

De la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic to an influential family, but left his homeland aged 18 to study painting in Spain. It was there that he became interested in fashion designing, and after an apprenticeship with designer Cristobal Balenciaga, he moved to Paris and worked in several French fashion houses.

In 1965, he launched his ready-to wear label and his work since then has made him a legend in the fashion world.

He is survived by his second wife, Annette, and adopted son, Moises.

TIME remembrance

RIP, Jan Hooks: There’s No I in SNL

Saturday Night Live
Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton, Jan Hooks as Hillary Clinton during the 'Nightline' skit on September 26, 1992. NBC—NBC via Getty Images

Hooks didn't barrel into your consciousness with catchphrases.

From the beginning, Saturday Night Live has been a vehicle for launching stars—Radner, Belushi, Ferrell, Wiig—on the strength of outsized, memorable, repeatable characters. Jan Hooks, who died Thursday at age 57, wasn’t one of the stars who summons up half a dozen trademarked characters when her name comes to mind (though fans who watched her 1986-1991 run will remember her as one half of the Sweeney sisters).

But that’s really the measure of what Hooks did so well. She didn’t barrel into your consciousness with catchphrases. Instead, with one character role and spot-on celebrity impression after another, she was a team player who helped make SNL bigger than the sum of its cast list, by being week in and week out one of its best comic actresses ever.

I’ve been thinking, with SNL coming up on its 40th anniversary, that lately I’ve been much more interested in sketch shows like Key & Peele, Portlandia and Inside Amy Schumer—taped shows, focused on one or two performers, with a more specific point of view and range of themes. There feels more energy right now in these shows with particular aims, not trying to be everything for everyone.

Someone like Hooks, though, is a reminder of what SNL could be at its best—a live show capable of becoming and taking on anything, depending on what the week calls for. And for that, you need players like Hooks: versatile, game live performers who can disappear into a role. Performers like her are a kind of human special effect, creating the canvas on which the show replicates the world.

Hooks could turn herself into celebrities from Sinead O’Connor to Tammy Faye Bakker to Diane Sawyer. Born in Atlanta (where she had an early role on TBS’s Bill Tush Show), she had a special knack for channeling brassy Southern women. (Her late-era “Put That Down!” sketch is one that’s always stuck with me: “BOBBY IS SELLING HIS EL CAMINO, MOTHER!”) But her characters, even the celeb parodies, weren’t just caricatures. She could put a kind of pathos into her Tammy Wynette or even Kathy Lee Gifford serenading a monkey (“Both of us come from God / But I… don’t… come… from you!”).

Much of Hooks’ career involved being memorable in projects that showcased other people. (The best non-Pee-Wee line in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is her chipper, pitying “There’s no basement at the Alamo!”) Jan Hooks was a star, and a terrible premature loss. But if it took you a while when you heard the news to recollect all the roles you knew her from, that’s all right. It means she did her job. RIP.

TIME remembrance

Remembering Steve Jobs, the Man Who Did Almost Everything Right

Steve Jobs Cover
The Feb. 15, 1982, cover of TIME TIME

The Apple CEO died on Oct. 5, 2011

Steven Paul Jobs, the legendary Apple boss who set the company on its course to becoming the world’s most cash-rich company before passing away three years ago Sunday, is often lauded as a technology visionary. But really, it was Jobs’ business acumen that made him not only a genius, but also a legend. As TIME put it in 1982, in the first cover story about Jobs:

To [Apple Computer co-founder Steve] Wozniak, the new machine was simply a gadget to show his fellow computer buffs. Jobs, in contrast, saw the commercial potential of the machine that could help families do their personal finance or small businesses control inventories, and he urged that they form a company to market the computer. The two raised $1,300 to open a makeshift production line by selling Jobs’ Volkswagen Micro Bus and Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. Jobs, recalling a pleasant summer that he spent working in the orchards of Oregon, christened the new computer Apple.

Indeed, Jobs’ drive to “sell a few,” as Woz put it in a 1983 TIME story, resulted in products that utterly changed the world into which they were introduced: The Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. But that drive also made him a pretty tough guy to work for — or work with. “As an executive,” the earlier article explained, “Jobs has sometimes been petulant and harsh on subordinates. Admits he: ‘I’ve got to learn to keep my feelings private'”

Still, if you were able to put up with Jobs’ demanding ways of doing business, Apple wasn’t a bad place to be, even back in ’82. “From the start,” as TIME said, “the Apple team did almost everything right.”

Read TIME’s first cover story about Steve Jobs, free of charge, here in the archives: The Seeds of Success

TIME People

What Price Fame: James Dean Was “Barely a Celebrity” Before He Died

James Dean advice
From the Sept. 3, 1956, issue of TIME TIME

Sept. 30, 1955: James Dean is killed in a California car crash

James Dean’s career picked up considerably after he died.

The budding film star was killed on this day, Sept. 30, in 1955 after crashing his Porsche Spyder en route to a road race in Salinas, Calif., in which he was scheduled to compete. Just 24, he was “barely a celebrity” at the time, according to a 1956 story in TIME, which went on to report that within a year of his death he had gained more popularity than most living actors. Magazine and book publishers looking to memorialize the enigmatic icon were preparing “to jump aboard the bandwagon that looks disconcertingly like a hearse,” the piece proclaimed.

When he died, Dean had acted in only three movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, only one of which had yet been released. He had worked his way up from smaller to larger roles: from appearing in a Pepsi commercial to working as a “test pilot” for stunts on a TV game show called Beat the Clock — a sort of precursor to Minute to Win It in which contestants competed in absurd timed challenges — to a well-reviewed role as a young gigolo in a Broadway adaptation of Andre Gide’s The Immoralist.

After he died, though, his fame reached new heights. By September of 1956, TIME noted Deans’ bewildering ascent to Hollywood superstardom:

Today he ranks No. 1 in Photoplay’s actor popularity poll, draws 1,000 fan letters a week (“Dear Jimmy: I know you are not dead”) at Warner’s — more than any live actor on the lot. Marveled one West Coast cynic: “This is really something new in Hollywood — boy meets ghoul.” Hollywood’s explanation: Dean not only appeals to a “mother complex” among teenage girls, but his roles as a troubled insecure youth prompted many young movie fans to identify with him.

Business types were eager to cash in on his posthumous popularity. In 1956, the story continued, Dean was still “haunting” newsstands with “four fast-selling magazines devoted wholly to him.”

He hasn’t stopped earning since. Forbes reported that in 2000, Dean’s estate raked in $3 million, very little of which took the form of royalties from his three films. Most came instead from licensing and merchandizing: “The rebellious heartthrob currently hawks everything from Hamilton watches, Lee Jeans, and Franklin Mint collectibles to cards by American Greetings, funneling funds to James Dean Inc., which is run by cousin Marcus Winslow.”

One of the many teenage girls pining for the departed heartthrob wrote to the advice columnist Dorothy Dix in the year after Dean’s death, lamenting, “I am 15 and in love. The problem is that I love the late James Dean. I don’t know what to do.” Dix advised her that time would lessen the sting of love and loss. In this case, however, the platitude’s been proved not entirely true: more than half a century on, society’s love for the late James Dean is still going strong.

Read about James Dean’s legacy here, in TIME’s archives: Dean of the One-Shotters

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser