Leonard Lopate - Tributes-logo

Leonard Lopate - Tributes


Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts.

Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts.
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New York, NY




Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts.




WNYC Radio PO Box 1550 New York, NY 10116-1550 646-829-3985


Tribute: Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe, the iconic bestselling writer – and one of the best-dressed! – just died at the age of 87 from pneumonia. He was known for his satirical light touch over the course of many novels, ranging from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, to The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities. He was a guest on this show back in 2012 for The Bonfire of the Vanities. Listen to the interview here.


Tribute: Derek Walcott

In 2005, Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott came on The Leonard Lopate Show to discuss an exhibit of his paintings at the June Kelly Gallery in Soho. He had been providing the illustrations for his poetry collections for years, but this was his first NYC Gallery Show. You can listen to the interview above. Derek Walcott, a Nobel-prize winning poet known for capturing the essence of his native Caribbean, has died on the island of St. Lucia. He was 87. Walcott's death in the eastern...


Tribute: Maggie Roche

Maggie Roche was known especially with her sisters, Terre and Suzzy. She was the alto in the trio known as The Roches, and released more than a dozen records either with the Roches, or in duos with her sisters, building a big fan base in the process. They had started out singing in Roman Catholic church choirs. She and Terre formed a duo first, and got a break when Paul Simon had them sing backup on his 1973 album, “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.” You can hear her perform with Suzzy on our show,...


Tribute: Wayne Barrett

Wayne Barrett was an old-fashioned muckracker, who relentlessly pursued the misdeeds of abusers of power in New York City over his four decades with the Village Voice. Among his targets were mayors, and our now-president, Donald Trump. He was acknowledged to be perhaps the first reporter to have probed Trump’s life, his business dealings, and even his potential national importance. His book, "Trump: The Deals and the Downfall" came out in 1992, and he lamented that, “Nobody took him...


Tribute: Debbie Reynolds On the Dark Sides of Making Her Lighthearted Films

Debbie Reynolds died Wednesday at age 84, and we are revisiting our interview with her from 1988. It's a fascinating discussion, because she opens up about the way women are treated in Hollywood, and how they expect to be treated when they pursue a career in acting. Leonard spoke to her about some of her most iconic roles, her personal and professional trials, and exactly how much she got paid for the film ‘Singing in the Rain’. She talked about the dark side of making some of her more...


Bonus Weekend Podcast: Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, Bill Irwin

We were saddened to learn of Edward Albee’s death last week. For many years he was one of our country’s most influential playwrights. In our Bonus Weekend Podcast, we’re revisiting an interview with Mr. Albee from 2003, with actors Marian Seldes and Brian Murray to discuss their production of “Beckett/Albee.” We also want to pay tribute to other icons of 20th century Theater. In 1995, Leonard spoke to Arthur Miller about "Homely Girl," a collection of short stories he’d written. And in 2000,...


Tribute: Toots Thielemans

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor – aka Toots Thielemans, was a jazz harmonica player, guitarist – and whistler! Originally, he never thought he could make a living as a musician – much less, playing the harmonica! And so he’d tried for a degree in mathematics. As he told Marian McPartland once: “Being a musician was not really a profession, so you needed to try to get a diploma. But Louis Armstrong changed all that.” And Toots would prove the harmonica to be far more than the toy it had been...


Tribute: Gregory Rabassa

Gabriel Garcia Marquez described Gregory Rabassa as “the best Latin American writer in the English language.” And he should know, as Gregory Rabassa brought the sinuous world of magical realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude to vivid life for English speakers through his masterful translations – along with many other Spanish and Portuguese novels. Gregory Rabassa had never intended to become a translator, expecting to spend his life on the faculty at Queens College. But once he was...


Tribute: Ronit Elkabetz

Ronit Elkabetz was an Israeli director, writer, and star who has been compared to Meryl Streep, Maria Callas, and Anna Magnani -- in terms of her versatility, beauty, and magnetism. She died at the age of 51 in Tel Aviv. Leonard spoke with her last February for her film, “Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem.”


Tribute: Father Daniel Berrigan

Father Daniel Berrigan had a rap sheet full of arrests and convictions, from protests at a variety of weapons laboratories and the Pentagon. The Jesuit priest would also be known with his brother (then fellow priest) Philip as one of “The Catonsville Nine,” for having burned hundreds of draft files with 7 others, outside a Selective Service office in Maryland in May of 1968. Actor Martin Sheen said, “Mother Teresa drove me back to Catholicism, but Daniel Berrigan keeps me there.” A poet and...


Tribute: Doris Roberts

Actress Doris Roberts won 5 Emmy Awards – four of them for her portrayal of Marie, the archetypal, overbearing mother at the center of the family in the hit sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She would always ask her sons, “Are You Hungry, Dear?” – which was the title of the memoir she wrote about her long life and career – a career she started in the 1950s. She died at the age of 90. But you can hear Leonard’s interview with her from April 15, 2003.


Tribute: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard had a voice of honey that belied his hardscrabble background. It was when he was in San Quentin prison and heard Johnny Cash perform in 1958 that he decided to pursue music as a career. He said in a PBS documentary “I would’ve become a lifetime criminal if music hadn’t saved my ass. I’m living proof that things go wrong in America and I’m also living proof that things can go right.” His many memorable songs include “Mama Tried,” “If We Make It Through December,” “Sing Me Back...


Tribute: Boutros Boutros-Ghali

It would have been easy to predict that Boutros Boutros-Ghali would enter Egyptian politics: he was born into the world of diplomacy. His grandfather, Boutros Ghali, had been Egypt's foreign minister and finance minister, and would become its prime minister in 1908. As Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Boutros Boutros-Ghali would play a major role in the peace agreements between President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. He would later serve as the United Nation’s...


Tribute: Brian Bedford

In the course of a six-decade career, British actor Brian Bedford received the most Tony nominations – 7 – of any male actor, but for one person: Jason Robards, who received 8! The Tony he did win was for his role as Amolphe in Moliere’s “The School for Wives.” He would admit that “I’m most alive when I’m acting. I can’t deny it, it’s where I belong.” He had escaped abject poverty in Yorkshire; once he discovered the stage, he would bring countless classic characters to life, from...


Tribute: Haskell Wexler

The award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler died at the age of 93. We interviewed him last year, along with New York Film Festival director Kent Jones and the director Pamela Yates. Her film "Rebel Citizen" profiled Wexler, her mentor and longtime collaborator.


Tribute: Wes Craven

Wes Craven earned a master's degree in philosophy and writing at John Hopkins University and began a career in teaching. But Craven was drawn to film, and left his short career in teaching to pursue film. He directed his first feature film, The Last House on the Left, in 1972. He quickly became known as the King of Horror with genre-defining films like A Nightmare on Elm Street. After a battle with brain cancer, he died on Sunday at age 76. Hear his conversation with Leonard in 1996 where...


Tribute: Julian Bond

Many people consider themselves disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but only a small group had the privilege of studying with him. Julian Bond was one of 8 students in a class co-taught by Dr. King at Morehouse College. The subject of the course was philosophy, but as Bond described on our show when we spoke with him in March, the conversation often turned to discussions of race. "All of us wanted to talk to him about Montgomery and the bus boycott, which was fresh in our minds then,"...


Tribute: Frank Gifford

Frank Gifford was born the son of an oil-field worker during the Great Depression. By the time he was in high school, the family had moved 47 times. Gifford played for the New York Giants for his entire NFL career. In 1960, his playing days nearly ended after a brutal injury. A decade later, he was a television star, appearing in ads for Lucky Strike cigarettes and Vitalis hair tonic. His television career skyrocketed as the play-by-play man of ABC's "Monday Night Football." He was on our...


Tribute: Theodore Bikel

Before he was cast in “The Defiant Ones,” with Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis – a role for which he would be nominated for an Academy Award, the Austrian-born Theodore Bikel told director Stanley Kramer that he was neither an American, nor Southern. “A good actor is a good actor,” Kramer answered. Bikel, who could speak nine languages and sing in 21, had a parallel career as a folk singer and social advocate. In 1959, he helped found the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. Plus, he...


Tribute: Marlene Sanders

Marlene Sanders was a woman of many “firsts” – the first network newswoman to report from Vietnam, the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast in 1964, and the first woman to become a vice president at ABC News. As Bill Moyers noted recently, "That women are finally recognized as first-rate professionals is due in no small part to the path-breaking courage of Marlene Sanders." Her son, CNN senior legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged, “Above all,...