One of the most popular, and most iconic series from the early days of television was “The Adventures of Superman,” which ran from 1952 to 1958.
George Reeves was Superman / Clark Kent. Jack Larson played young photographer Jimmy Olson, and Noel Neill was reporter Lois Lane.
But, like so many TV stars, Neill saw her career take a new and unexpected path, and not necessarily the path she had planned.
I met her in 2003. She was still very popular on the campus and classic-TV circuit, and she was then promoting an authorized biography called “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
So here now, from 2003, Noel Neill.
Noel Neill died in 2016. She was 95.
In all of major league baseball history, going back well over a hundred years, there has been only a handful of pitchers who have won 30 or more games in a single season.
That very short list includes names like Cy Young, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Dizzy Dean.
And .. the last to do it — righthander Denny McLain.
It was on September 14th, 1968 that McLain, pitching for the Detroit Tigers, struck out ten to notch his 30th win of the season.
Fast forward 20 years, almost to the day — that’s when I met him.
So here now, from 1988, Denny McLain.
Denny McLain swept the 1968 American League MVP and Cy Young awards and won the Cy Young winner in 1969 as well, before his career imploded after rotator cuff issues.
But Denny McLain, who is 76 now, baseball’s last 30-game winner, never did make it to the Hall of Fame.
If you know Jim Gaffigan’s comedy, you know he has a big family, five kids.
He was one of six kids, his wife was one of nine. So they know big famililes.
I met Jim in 2013, when he wrote a memoir that was funny and poignant and reflective — as was our interview.
His book was called “Dad is Fat.”
So here now, from 2013, Jim Gaffigan.
Jim Gaffigan just turned 54 earlier this month. He and his wife Jeannie and their five kids live in Manhattan.
Sam Huff was such a force in the National Football League in the 1950s and ’60s that CBS television produced a special called “The Violent World of Sam Huff.”
One of the first middle linebackers in the NFL, Huff was one of the game’s toughest competitors, first for the New York Giants, later for the Washington Redskins.
Huff played in six NFL Championship Games and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
And for more than 20 years Sam Huff was a color commentator on Redskins radio broadcasts.
I met him in 2011, when he wrote a very frank memoir.
So here now, from 2011, Sam Huff.
Sam Huff is 85 now,
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In 1981, at the age of 16, Andrea Jaeger was ranked number two in the world among professional women tennis players.
But at age 19, a shoulder injury ended her five-year pro career.
Within two years, however, Jaeger launched her second career as an advocate for children with life-threatening illnesses.
I met her almost 20 years later, when she wrote a book called “First Service,” the story of how faith in God inspired her, and changed her life.
So here now, from 2004, Andrea Jaeger:
Andrea Jaeger is 55 now,
Two years after our interview, Amdrea Jaeger became “Sister Andrea” — she’s a member of the Episcopal Church’s Anglican Order of Preachers.
On July 20th, 1969, Buzz Aldrin was 39 years old, as he and Neil Armstrong became the first two human beings ever to set foor on the surface of the moon.
Fifty-one years sounds like a long time, but to those of us who remember watching it unfold live on TV, it’s almost like it was yesterday.
To untold millions of people all over the world, Buzz Aldrin, to this day, remains a larger-than-life hero. That’s why, when I met him in 2000, I was more than just a bit starstruck.
Aldrin had written his second novel, a fictional story of a disaster aboard a space shuttle. And, as you’ll hear, he was very focused on the future of space travel, not his past.
So here now, from 2000, Buzz Aldrin.
Buzz Aldrin is 90 now. He lives in Satellite Beach, Florida.
Photo: Chatham House
You could say that Richard Branson’s success in business has always been about disruption.
He disrupted air travel, he risrupted the music business, he disrupted retail — all through the Virgin Group, which he founded in the 1970s.
I met him in fall 1998. He had just written a memoir called “Losing My Virginity.”
So here now, from 1998, Richard Branson:
Richard Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace about a year and a half after our interview.
He was honored for, quote, “services to entrepreneurship.”
Today Virgin Group controls over 400 companies. Last month, Forbes estimated Branson’s net worth at $4.1 billion.
And romorrow, July 18th, is Branson’s 70th birthday.
Photo: © Raimond Spekking
Hot air balloons, or lighter-than-air craft, have been around for centuries. But it wasn’t until March 1999 that humans were able to circumnavigate the entire world in a single hot air balloon flight.
The two guys who did it were British balloonist Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist.
They co-piloted a massive balloon called Breitling Orbiter 3, which launched March 1st,1999 from Switzerland and landed in Egypt 19 days and 27-thousand-900 miles laer.
I met them just eight months later, after they wrote a book about their adventure.
So here now, from November 1999, Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard.
Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones remain active in ballooning.
And in 2016, Piccard was part of the first round-the-world solar flight in history, piloting the Solar Impulse 2 on one leg of its historic flight.
Photo: Bridget Laudien
In the 1980s movies like The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, WarGames, and Short Circuit made Ally Sheedy a star. She was a prominent member of the so-called Brat Pack.
I met her in 1991 when, at age 28, she had just published a collection of her poetry. Many of the poems in her book dated back to her teenage years. But as she remionded me, it’s not like she was new to writing, or publishing.
So here now, from 1991, Ally Sheedy.
Ally Sheedy is 58 now. She was most recently seen in 2016’s X Men: Apocalypse. But her 1991 book Yesterday I Saw the Sun was the last book she’s published.
Glamour, glitz, sex, power, drugs, and money. All were staples of novels by Jackie Collins.
At the same time her sister Joan was making her name as an actress, Jackie Collins honed her craft as the author of novels in the tradition of Jacqueline Susann or Mickey Spillane.
And she was really, really good at it. She wrote 32 novels, all of which became New York Times Best Sellers. Her books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide. And many have been made into movies or TV series.
I interviewed Jackie Collins several times over the years. The interview you’re about to hear was my first with her.
So here now, from 1985, Jackie Collins.
Jackie Collins died of breast cancer in 2015, just two weeks before her 78th birthday.