Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent T. Bugliosi Jr. may be best known, best remembered, for prosecuting Charles Manson and members of his “family” after the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969.

Bugliosi wrote a book about the Manson case, called “Helter Skelter.” It remains oe of the bestselling true crime books of all time.

But in 2007, Bugliosu published another book that he says was even more significant than “Helter Skelter.” After 21 years of meticulous research, Bugliosi — one of the nation’s most prominent prosecuting attornies — published an 11-hundred page book on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

And his conclusion was .. htere was no conspiracy or coverup of secret plot. Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter, and he acted alone.

I talked with Vicne Bugliosi about that book, 12 years ago this week:

Vince Bugliosi really disliked the Oliver Stone movie “JFK,” which of course pushed all manner of conspiracy theories.

Yogi’s Pal Joe Garagiola

This past weekend would have been baseball great Yogi Berra’s 94th birthday.

One of his closest friends, from childhood on through their playing days together, was Joe Garagiola, who of course built on his baseball career to become a popular TV broadcaster.

Joe and I talked in 1988 when he wrote a book about his post-baseball life.

A lot of the audience questions he would get on the rubber-chicken circuit, he said, were about .. Yogi.

Yogi died in 2015. Joe Garagiola passed away the following year.

Erme Bombeck

For thirty years readers faithfully turned to a column in their local newspaper. It wasn’t about politics, or education, or religion, or even advice to the lovelorn.

It was just a midwestern suburban housewife writing about her loving but sometimes dysfunctional family, and writing abnout it in a way that always made us grin, or nod our heads in agreement, and often to laugh out loud.

Her name was Erma Bombeck. I spent a little time with her in 1987.

Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon

Twin baby boys from Germany were the talk of the world in 1987.

As was the American neurosurgeon, who led the successful operation that separated the twin boys who were born conjoined at the head.

Dr. Ben Carson’s accomplishment instantly propelled him into the spotlight as something aof a miracle worker.

I met him three years later

Dr. Ben Carson was still just 38 when we talked in the spring of 1990 about his bestselling book “Gifted Hands.”

Dr. Carson retired from the practice of medicine in 2013, ran for president in 2016, and in 2017 became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Donald Trump.

June Lockhart

If you grew up in the ’50s or ’60s, I don’t have to tell you who June Loclhart was.

She was Ruth Martin.

June Lockhart with Bill Thompson in 2001

Or she was Maureen Robinson.

Or she was Dr. Janet Craig.

June Lockhart remains one of America’s favorite TV moms. She visited with me in early 2001.

After Lassie ended, Irwin Allen sent June Lockjhrt into space in a silver suit so tight she coiukld hardly sit down. And there was something else she was not allowed to do:

As I write this, June Lockhart is about tocelebrate her 94th birthday. No danger there, WIll Robinson.

Lorna Luft

How would you have reacted if, as an impressionable five-year-old, you were watching TV and suddenly on screen, flying monkeys came and took your mom away?

Photo: Greg Hernandez

Welcome to Lorna Luft’s world — her mother was Judy Garland, and the movie Lorna was watching that night was, of course, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Over the years, Lorna Luft learned a lot about her famous mom. And learned how to separate the truth she knew, in her own home, from what was written and spoken about Judy Garland in public.

In 1998 I interviewed Lorna Luft when she wrote a bok called, “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir.”

In later years, Lorna Luft found that living a life apart from the shadow of Judy Garland was a big challenge.

And in recent years, Lorna has successfuly fought cancer, and is now 66 — almost 20 years older than her mother was when she died in 1969.

Julie Nixon Eisenhower

Julie Nixon Eisenhower was born into a political family.

Her father was Richard Nixon, former Congressman, Senator, Vice President, and eventually the 37th President of the United States.

Photo: Oliver F. Atkins

Her mother was Pat Nixon, who steadfastly stood by her husband from the beginning of his political career to its ignominious end and beyond.

In 1986 Julie Nixon Eisenwher — the couple’s younger daughter, wrote a book called “Pat Nixon the Untold Story.”

She told me that year that her book was intended to blow up the misconceptions about her mother:

Julie Nixon Eisenhower told me that her mother never tried to influecne policy, or even speak out on the issues, deferring instead to her husbandd.

By 1986, the Nixons were starting to fade from the public memory. Julie found herself enjoying her newfound anonymity.

Now, there was one thing that Julie Nixon Eisernhower’s publisher asked me NOT to ask her about — but, the iknterview had gone so well tol that point, and she was so easy and open to talk to, I had to ask about it anyway…

Pat Nixon died in 1993, Richard Nixon the following year.

American Legend Pete Seeger

One hundred years ago today in New York City an American hero was born. An American folk hero, a folk music giant named Pete Seeger.

Few musicians were as well known by multiple generations as Pete Seeger.

Photo: Mathew Smith

If you’ve ever sung “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” or, “If I Had a Hammer” or “Turn, Turn, Turn” you’ve sung a Pete Seeger song.

I met him in the summer of 1993.

In a wide-ranging interview, Seeger told me:

…how Woody Guthrie created “This Land Is Your Land”

…… why he is one of three white men who hold the copyright to “We Shall Overcome”

Erich Segal, A Love Story

It’s one of those phrases that’s become a part of the American pop culture lexicon — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

That was perhaps the most famous line from Erich Segal’s 1970 novel “Love Story,” which became one of the biggest box office hits of 1971.

But it also proved to be a two-edged sword for Erich Segal.

We talked in 1988. upon publication of his sweeping novel “Doctoirs.”

And the book, and the movie, sure did.

And it also did something else — it gave the world hundreds of thousands of Jennifers…

But here’s a twist — and you may find it hard to believe — but Erich Segal told me that day that he had no idea what was going to be on the last page of “Love Story”:

Tammy Faye Messner

Jim and Tammy Faye.

The Bakkers were one of America’s best-known couples in the 1980s. The Christian television ministry they created, the “Praise The Lord Club” — or PTL — made them both ostentatiously wealthy.

But they didn’t see the trouble that was coming.

Tammy Faye was widely mocked and ridiculed for her excessive hair and makeup.

Photo: Darwin Bell

Jim Bakker was caught in a sex scandal.

And eventually allegations of fraud sent Jim Bakker to prison in 1989. Tammy Faye divorced him in 1992, and married Roe Messner.

In 2003 I talked with Tammy Faye about a book she wrote called “I Will Survive .. and You Can, Too!”

For a while in the late ’80s it sure looked like the other guy was winning. Public scandal, ridicule, disgrace, humiliation. The Bakkers hit a low point.

And the country moved on to other scandals, other scapegoats, other targets. And Tammy Faye Messner forged on — she even put recipes in that book we talked about.

But what really struck me, during our whole time together that day, was how incredibly upbeat Tammy Faye was.

By the way, Jim Bakker wrote his own book in 1996, which he called “I Was Wrong.” I interviewed him that year — I’ll put that interview up on an upcoming episode of this podcast.