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Leonard Lopate - Tributes

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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: 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...

Duration: 00:34:44

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...

Duration: 00:37:33

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...

Duration: 00:52:02

Tribute: James Salter

James Wolcott described James Salter in Vanity Fair as America’s most “underrated underrated writer.” A stylist of great economy, he developed a devoted fan base for his slender novels and short stories. Reviewer Michael Dirda noted that “he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.” He died at the age of 90. You can still hear his interview with Leonard from 2005.

Duration: 00:14:53

Tribute: Gunther Schuller

Composer, conductor, educator, and French horn prodigy Gunther Schullertold The Guardian in 2010, "The thing that may make me unique is that I have simultaneously had seven full-time careers in music over the last 50 or 60 years. That's more than Leonard Bernstein." The son of a violinist in the New York Philharmonic, he began his careerplayingFrench horn for Arturo Toscanini at age 16 and with Miles Davis byage 25. He would win both a Pulitzer Prize for Music and a MacArthur Foundation...

Duration: 00:33:25

Tribute: Christopher Lee

It’s safe to say that we lost our most prolific movie actor of all time last week! Sir Christopher Lee had already been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most screen credits back in 2007. But then he appeared in 34 other films, making his total 278 by the time he died last week at the age of 93. His breakout role was as Count Dracula in the 1958 horror film, “Horror of Dracula,” and he would become an official horror film icon when cast as the lead in “The...

Duration: 00:30:48

Tribute: Ruth Rendell

The world of carefully plotted mystery novels has lost another key practitioner of the genre: Baroness Rendell of Babergh, otherwise known as Ruth Rendell. Though 85, she had had no plans of retiring, as she stated in 2013, “I couldn’t do that. I’ll do it until I die!” She called her Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford an “alter ego.” And crime writer Simon Brett gave a telling impression of one of her speeches recently – “…she was mesmerizing. Although it was always quite spooky, because she...

Duration: 00:14:59

Tribute: Cynthia Lennon

Cynthia Powell met John Lennon when they were art students, and he was a struggling musician.She died at the age of 75. You can hear her interview with Leonard from December of 2005.

Duration: 00:32:52

Tribute: Albert Maysles

Filmmaker Albert Maysles, with his brother David, helped change documentary film over the course of his long career.

Duration: 00:12:36

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, who played the iconic role of the cold and calculating officer Mr. Spock in "Star Trek," died today at the age of 83. Listen to our 2002 interview with Nimoy here.

Duration: 00:16:28

Tribute: Philip Levine

Philip Levine's poetry celebrated grease monkeys, firefighters, and milkmen. Levinewas appointed U.S. Poet Laureate for 20112012. He died at 87. He spoke to Leonard in 1991.

Duration: 00:32:13

Tribute: Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore became a pop music star for herhits: "Its My Party and Judys Turn To Cry. She passed awayon February 16, 2015. Listen to her 2005 interview on the show.

Duration: 00:14:05

David Carr, Investigating His Own Life

NYTimes media columnist David Carr died Thursday at the age of 58. He covered the media industry for 25 years, but in this interview, which first aired in 2008, he told us his own story.

Duration: 00:33:46

Tribute: Robert Stone

We were lucky to have had thebrilliantwriter Robert Stone on our show a couple of times over the years. He died at the age of 77, and we bring you one of our interviews with him.

Duration: 00:18:29

Tribute: Carl Djerassi

Carl Djerassi once described himself as an intellectual polygamist, but hemay be best known as the chemist whocreated the birth control pill.

Duration: 00:26:48

Tribute: Rod McKuen

Rod McKuen called the unofficial poet laureate of America, he sold millions of copies of books of verse, and also branched out into songwriting. He diedat the age of 81.

Duration: 00:17:04

Tribute: Kent Haruf

After Kent Haruf’s 1999 novel Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award, he became an overnight sensation at the age of 56 (after having written for decades). With spare, understated writing, he brought to life a fictitious small town in eastern Colorado in the subsequent novels Eventide and Benediction. He had just finished Our Souls at Night this summer, which his wife is copy editing now (she is said to have told him “Don’t you die before you finish it.”). Tragically, he died...

Duration: 00:14:30

Remembering Ben Bradlee

Ben Bradlee was the kind of quintessential newspaper editor, complete with crisp shirt and rolled up sleeves, who you’d find in the movies. During his 26-years at the helm of The Washington Post, his fierce support, with publisher Katharine Graham, of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s reporting on the Watergate break-in led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for that reporting—one of many the paper would receive during...

Duration: 00:37:29

Remembering Actor, Choreographer, Director, Dancer, Painter, Costume Design

You noticed Geoffrey Holder first for his height – 6 foot 6. Next came his booming, deep Trinidadian voice, which he used to great effect in 7 Up “uncola” commercials. Agnes De Mille first saw him dance in St. Thomas in 1952, and invited him to New York, and that was the beginning of his rich career as an actor, choreographer, director, dancer, painter, costume designer, singer, and voice-over artist. He's probably best remembered for playing Punjab in the 1982 film "Annie." The Tony-winner...

Duration: 00:12:56

Remembering the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, last of the Mitford Sisters

Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (otherwise addressed as Her Grace), died this week at the age of 94. She was the last of the six spirited, independent-minded Mitford sisters who had fascinated and sometimes scandalized British society during the 1940s. Her sister Nancy Mitford immortalized their childhood in her novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. The Duchess revitalized a stately house and garden in Chatsworth, and ran its farm shop. She was a guest on...

Duration: 00:21:09

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