Alexander Haig

Today is March 30th, and it was 41 years ago today that a young man tried to kill President Ronald Reagan.

And one of the most controversial things that happened that day happened to a man with a long and distinguished military and public service career, general. Alexander Haig.

Haig was a graduate of West point m. He served in Korea, served in Vietnam, earned the silver Star and the purple heart. And by 1973 was the youngest four-star general ever in the US army.

In 1973, Haig became President Richard Nixon’s, Chief of staff just as the Watergate scandal was turning up to full boil.

In fact, many say that Haig was instrumental in persuading Nixon to resign the presidency in 1974.

In 1980, after being elected president in a landslide, Ronald Reagan chose Haig as his secretary of State. And it was the following March 30th, the day. John Hinckley Jr. Tried to assassinate the president, that Haig made a comment that will haunt him.

In 1992, Haig wrote a book called inner circles. And that’s when I have the chance to meet him. So here now, from 1992, general Alexander Haig.

Alexander Haig died in 2010. He was 85.

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Frank Warren

Frank Warren with Bill’s daughter Krystal

I’m not sure Frank Warren understood what he was unleashing in January, 2005, when he initiated his PostSecret project .

What started as something of a social experiment, encouraging people to send him their innermost secrets on a postcard, turned into something way beyond that.

It wasn’t long before Frank, a mild-mannered man from suburban Washington, DC started receiving thousands of postcards, from all over the world .

In 2005 he published the first book. A collection of those postcards, called simply PostSecret. That’s when I first met him.

By 2007, Warren was on his fourth best-selling book, and that’s when we did the interview you’re about to hear. His latest book was called A Lifetime of Secrets .

So here now, from 2007, Frank Warren.

Franmk Warren’s still collects and curates postcards.

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Shere Hite

Human sexuality has been widely studied, researched, and written about over the years, most notably, perhaps, by Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson .

In the 1970s and ’80s, there was a trilogy of books about sexuality by another researcher that drew widespread praise and criticism. It was called The Hite Report, by researcher Shere Hite.

Much of the controversy centered on the fact that Hite was a feminist who drew upon political and philosophical viewpoints into her work.

In 1988 she completed her trilogy with a volume called Women And Love. And that’s when I first met her, during a whirlwind book tour that included some controversial stops, including TV’s Phil Donahue show.

So here now, from 1988, Shere Hite.

Shere Hite died in 2020. She was 77.

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Otis Williams

It was around this time in 1961 that a group of five young men formed a singing group called The Elgins. They were good, so good that Berry Gordy signed them to a contract at Motown. Trouble was, there was already a group called The Elgins, so Gordy asked them to find a new name.

That’s when they became The Temptations. Their leader and founder was baritone Otis Williams.

And over the next five decades, the temptations establish themselves as one of the most popular and most enduring soul music acts.

Otis Williams in upper right

In 1988, Williams wrote a book that was part memoir, part story of The Temptations. And that’s when I had the chance to meet him .

So here now, from 1988, Otis Williams.

Otis Williams is 80 now. He still performs occasionally with the Temptations.

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Barry Levinson

Barry Levinson is an Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter. But it also turns out he’s a pretty good novelist.

The man famous for such films as Diner, Rain Man, and Good Morning, Vietnam wrote a novel in 2003 called Sixty-Six.

Like his Baltimore-based movies, Sixty-Six was the story of young men dealing with momentous changes in their lives and in the society around them.

When his book was published, Levinson went on an author tour, and that’s when I had the chance to meet him.

So here now, from 2003, Barry Levinson.

Barry Levinson will be 80 years old next month. His most recent project: he was co-executive producer of last year’s Hulu mini-series “Dopesick.”

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Luba Brezhneva

Photo: C-SPAN

Some think this is the beginning of another Cold war. Or worse. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the course of world events.

Not since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 have Americans paid such close attention to Russia .

I was thinking recently that this called to mind and interview I did in 1995, with a Russian woman named Luba Brezhneva.

If her last name sounds familiar, it should. Her uncle, Leonid Brezhnev, was Soviet premiere for 18 years after the ouster of his predecessor. Nikita Khrushchev.

Luba was just barely out of her teens when her uncle took over the USSR, and in many ways her story is simply that of a young woman finding her way in the world. Luba Brezhneva was in a unique position. And it wasn’t always a pleasant position.

In fact, it became downright dangerous when she fell in love with a German man.

Luba eventually left the USSR and came to the United States. In 1995 she wrote a book called The World I Left Behind. And that’s when I met her.

Now it is very important to remember that this interview was recorded almost 27 years ago, while the dust was still settling after the breakup of the Soviet Union. What you’ll hear us talking about should not necessarily be taken as an indication of what life in Russia may be like today.

So here now, from 1995, Luba Brezhneva.

Luba Brezhneva is 79 now. She lives in California and still writes.

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Patricia Cornwell

Many authors, maybe even most authors, labor in obscurity for months or years before finally hitting it big with a bestseller .

But Patricia Cornwell hit it big with her very first book, Post Mortem in 1990. And in the three decades since then, she has sold over 100 million books.

Her wildly popular mysteries feature a medical examiner named Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell based the character loosely on a real life medical examiner for whom she worked briefly in the 1980s.

I first interviewed Patricia Cornwell when Post Mortem was published. The interview you’re about to hear is our second interview, a year later, when her second book, Body of Evidence was published.

So here now, from 1991, Patricia Cornwell.
Patricia Cornwell will be 66 in June. She lives in Massachusetts.

Her latest Kay Scarpetta mystery, Autopsy, the 25th book in the series,was published in 2021.

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Dwayne Hickman

In the early 1960s, one of America’s most popular teenagers was an actor who wasn’t even a teenager .

Dwayne Hickman played the clean cut, girl. Crazy, likable lead in the TV sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

After the series ended, Hickman appeared in several beach movies alongside such figures as Frankie Avalon and Annette Funiciello.

Later, he became a television executive, working with CBS on many iconic TV series

In 1994 Hickman wrote a memoir, and that’s when I have the chance to meet him.

So here now, from 1994, Dwayne Hickman.

Dwayne Hickman died this past January. He was 87.

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Oliver Sacks

Photo: Maria Popova

A young British boys fascination with science, and with metals and chemistry in particular, led to him becoming one of the world’s foremost neurologists.

And the author of best-selling books about science.

His name was Oliver Sacks. He’s the author of books such as The Man Who mistook His Wife For a Hat, and The Island of The Color Blind. But he is perhaps best known for his 1973 book Awakenings, which became a major movie in 1990 starring Robert de Niro and Robin Williams.

In 2001, his book Uncle Tungsten told of how, as a youngster, he first became interested in science.

So here now, from 2001, Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks died in 2015. He was 82.

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Richard Marcinko

SHave you ever done a job so well that your boss is punished you for it?

That’s what former Navy SEAL team 6 Commander Richard Marcinko said happened to him.

Marcinko joined the Navy in the late 1950s, and became a part of the underwater demolitions unit. After a tour in Vietnam, Marcinko became a Navy SEAL.

After the 1979 hostage rescued attempt, Marcinko was chosen to form, and be the first commander of, the elite SEAL team. Team Six.

After three years in that role, Marcinko was given a new assignment: form a unit to test the Navy’s vulnerability to terrorism.

That new project, called Red Cell, is what got Marcinko in hot water, he says, because he exposed vulnerabilities the Navy didn’t want to acknowledge.

He was actually sentenced to prison in 1990. More on that in a moment. But in 1992 Marcinko wrote a memoir called Rogue Warrior. And that’s when I first met him.

This would be the first of many interviews I would have with Marcinko over the next few years, as he told many of his military stories in the form of novels loosely based on his experiences.

So here now, from 1992, Richard Marcinko.

Richard Marcinko died on Christmas Day 2021. He was 81.

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