Barney Frank

The name Barney Frank is well-known in his home state of Massachusetts, and nationally. Frank was alongtiem Democratic Congressman who made his mark in many ways in Congress, including the legislation that followed the 2008 financial crisis called the Dodd-Frank Act.

But in 1982, when I first met him, Frank was a freshman, about to run for his second term — facing a longtime Republican lawmaker named Margaret Heckler, thanks to a rapportionment map that threw them both into the same district. . .

Was he scared of losing. I asked?

In 1981, Congress gave itself a generous and controversial tax break for things like, meals. Barney Frank voted agsinst it.

When we talked in the fall of 1982, Barney Frank was facing that uiphiull battle against eight-term Republican Margarer Heckler.

But Frank beat Heckler that fall. She later becmae Secretary of Health and Human Services. and U.S. ambssadior to Ireland. Frank went on to serve 15 more terms in Congress. He did not seek re-election in 2012, and retired from Congress.

Mary Lou Retton

1984 was a very good year for gymnast Mary Lou Retton. She won five medals at the Summer Olympics that year in Los Angeles, including a gold, two silver and two bronze.

Her athletic prowess, and her infectious smile, captivated America’s hearts. Mine was no exception.

But it turns out there is something in Mary Lou Retton’s life that was much more important than gymnastics.

I was thrilled to meet her in 2000.

Anthony Bourdain

June 25th is #BOURDAINDAY a day designated by friends of the late chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain.

June 25th, 2019 would have been his 63rd birthday.

Bourdain shot to fame nearly twenty years ago with his book “Kitchen Confidential,” in which he pulled back the curtain to let us see what really goes on in a restaurant kitchen. But his book also helped elevate food preparation to a desirable, even glamorous , profession.

I met him in the spring of 2001….

So what do you say we all go out to eat tonight, for Bourdain Day?

Lewis Grizzard

I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the years, some much more colorful than others.

But one I’ll always remember as one of the most colorful was the late newspaper humor columnist and standup comic Lerwis Grizzard.

Over a period of years, Grizzard wrote 25 books, with titles like “When My Love Returns From the Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old to Care?” .. “You Can’t Put No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock & Roll” .. and “I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962”

One of my several interviews with him was on his book called, “Don’t Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes”

Lewis Grizzard died way too young, at age 47, in 1994.

Berkeley Breathed

Berkeley Breathed is perhaps best known for his comic strips “Bloom County,” “Outland,” and “Opus.” But he’s also a gifted children’s book creator. I first met him in 2003, on publication of his book “Flawed Dogs.”

The next time we talked was in 2007, after publication of his book called “Mars Needs Moms,
which later became a Disney animated film. It’s about a 9-year-old boy namd Milo who comes to appreciate everything about his mom, after she’s abducted by Martians.

And Berke Breathed is still producing great comics — “Bloom County” returned in 2015.

Jim & Sarah Brady

In many people’s lives, there is a “before and after day,” the day when their entire life changed, sometimes radically and painfully.

For Jim and Sarah Brady, that day was March 30th, 1981. Jim was then-President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, and had accompanied the president to an appearance at the Washington Hilton Hotel. No one knew that John Hinckley Jr. was waiting outside the hotel and would attempt ti assassinate the president.

Jim Brady was gravely injured and nearly died.

But just six years later Jim and Sarah Brady were on a book tour. i met them that fall:

Jim Brady died in 2014 just a few days shy of his 74th birthday. Sarah died a few month’s later at age 73.

Their legacy may be an untold number of lives saved by their campaign against gun violence.

Chris & Bob Elliott

Wrapping up “Fathers Week” here on Now I’ve Heard Everything, a conversation I had thirty years ago this week with two very funny guys who happened to be father and son: actor Chris Elliott and his dad, Bob Elliott, who of course was half of the comedy team Bob & Ray.

They wrote a funny little book together in 1989 called “Daddy’s Boy: A Son’s Shocking Account of Life with a Famous Father.” It was a parody celebrity tell-all memoirs, and was all very, very tongue-in-cheek — as was our interview just before Fathers Day 1989:

I’m not sure if their book ever did become a bestseller, although it did get a really nice write-up in the New york Times and a lot of other places..

Joan Benny, Jack’s Daughter

It’s “Fathers Week” on Now I’ve Heard Everything.

Today, my comversation nearly thirty years ago with the daughter of American comedy legend Jack Benny.

One day while going through her late father’s papers, Joan Benny discovered his unpublished autobiography. She polished up that manuscript, added some of her own thoughts, and the result was a 1990 book called “Sunday Nights at Seven.”

For those of us who remember Jack Benny, it’s hard to believe it’s been 45 years since he passed away at the age of 80 .. I mean, 39.

Adm. Elmo Zumwalt & His Son

Continuing “Fathers Week” on Now I’ve Heard Everything, a very moving story today of a father and son caught up in an unpopular war, with an unexpected and poignant outcome.

In wartime, there are seldom good options, usually just the lesser of bad options.

In the 1960s, U.S. forces in Vietnam used the defoliant known as Agent Orange in an effort to make it harder for enemy forces to hide in thr jungle. Agent Orange was very effective — and, it turns out, very deadly for hundreds of U.S. troops who were exposed to it.

In the late ’60s the Commander of Naval Forces in Vietnam was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr.

His son, Elmo Zumwalt the Third, was in the Navy — and was among those exposed to the Agent Orange his father ordered.

Perhaps as a result of that exposuyre, the younger Zumwalt developed cancer.

The two of them, father and son, wrote a book in 1986. That’s when I met them:

Less than two years later, Elmo Zumwalt the Third died at the age of 42.

Admiral Zumwalt passed away in 2000, at the age of 79.

The U.S. Navy named a guided missile destroyer program the “Zumwalt class” in his honor.