Mamie Van Doren: The Untamed Youth of Hollywood’s Blonde Bombshell

In 1950s America there were two famous women named Mamie. One, of course,was the First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower.

The other was blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren, whose career put her in the same stratosphere as Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.

And Mamie was not shy about her sexiness. She had many male acquaintances, shall we call them.

Joan Lucille Olander was born in 1931 in South Dakota. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 11. And, one thing leading to another, she married for the first time at age 17, in a union that ended quickly.

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By age 19 she had a movie contract, launching the career that catapulted her to star status. In the ‘50s and ‘60s she was rarely out of work.

In 1987 Mamie wrote her autobiography, Playing the Field. That’s when I met her and interviewed her – and then we talked again a year later when the book came out in softcover.

So here now, from 1988,. Mamie Van Doren.

Mamie Van Doren.is 93 now, having outlived Marilyn, Jayne, Suzanne, and Farrah.

Remembering the Ia Drang Valley: The Battle That Changed Vietnam

Gen. Hal Moore. Photo by Ahodges7

It’s been almost 50 years since the last American soldier came home from Vietnam. But the memories of the 10-year war that tore the nation apart still color the U.S. today.

On this Memorial Day I wanted to bring you an interview I did in 1993 with retired Army Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and war correspondent Joe Gallowaty. They had recently returned from a visit to Vietnam.

Joe Galloway. Photo by Cmichel67

They had gone back to the Ia Drang Valley, scene of the first major battle of the war in 1965, with Gen. Moore in command. On their visit, they met with some Vietnamese veterans who, nearly 30 years earlier, had been determined to kill them.

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Moore and Galloway wrote a book about the historic battle, called We Were Soldiers Once… And Young. When it was made into a movie in 2002 the title was shortened to “We Were Soldiers.” Mel Gibson portrayed Gen. Moore.

So here now, from the fall of 1993, Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway.

Gen. Hal Moore died in 2017, three days before his 95th birthday.

Joe Galloway died in 2021 at age 79.

Tom Hayden: From Freedom Rider to Chicago Seven

The political turbulence of the 1960s has been well documented. and one name that appears prominently in that story is Tom Hayden.

One of the founders of the Students For a Democratic Society, Hayden was also a Freedom Rider in the south, fighting for civil rights, but also became one of the leading young voices against the Vietnam War.

Chicago Seven in 1970. Photo by Don Casper

In the historically tumultuous 1968, Hayden was among several high profile demonstrators at the notorious Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They were eventually brought to trial and became known as The Chicago Seven. Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were also among them

Hayden was also married for many years to another high-profile anti-war activist, actress Jane Fonda.

In subsequent years, Hayden entered politics. He was elected to the California State Assembly and the California State Senate.

And in 1988, some 20 years after the Chicago Seven experience, Hayden wrote a memoir called Reunion. That’s when I met him.

So here now, from 1988, Tom Hayden.

Tom Hayden died in 2016. He was 76.

The Night the Beatles Rocked America: A Conversation with Journalist Larry Kane

Photo by Endlessdan

Sixty years ago this week the Beatles performed in concert – notable because it was their very first concert in the United States.

On February 11, 1964 the Beatles entertained a crowd of about 8,000 at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, DC.

After that concert, as they embarked on their 1964 U.S. tour, along with them was young journalist Larry Kane. He was, in fact, the only broadcast journalist who was with the band at every stop on both the’64 and ‘65 American tours

Kane has written three books about the Beatles, including his 2014 book When They Were Boys. So let’s take a few minutes to revisit this milepost in American culture. Here now. from 2014, Larry Kane,

Larry Kane is 81. He is a special contributor to Philadelphia’s KYW radio.


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Carl Djerassi: The Visionary Behind ‘The Pill’

Photo by Douglas A. Lockard

It was in the early 1950sThe 28 year old pharmaceutical chemist created something that would change the very fabric of our society .

His name was Carl Djerassi. He was a Bulgarian]American who led a team that came up with an oral contraceptive that became known – and is still known today – as simply The Pill . Djerassi has been dubbed “the father of The Pill.”

In 1992 he wrote a memoir called The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas’s Horse, a reflection on a life that was filled with far more than white lab coats and experiments. And that’s when he and I had a conversation about it.

So here now, from 1992, Carl Djerassi.

Carl Djerassi died in 2015. He was 91.


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Echoes of a Legend: John Denver’s Autobiography

Photo by RCA Records

When John Denver died in a plane crash in October 1997, the world lost not just a popular singer, but a songwriter whose work touched the hearts of millions.

Among the 300 or so songs that he recorded, some 200 he wrote. He had 33 gold records, and was uncommonly successful in crossing genre lines, from country to adult contemporary to the Billboard Hot 100. .

Both Colorado and West Virginia have adopted John Denver songs as official state songs.

In 1994, John Denver published his autobiography, called Take Me Home. And that’s when I met him.

So here now, from 1994, John Denver.


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Derek Taylor: Behind the Beatles’ Legacy

Derek Taylor was a working journalist when he met the Beatles, literally in the right place at the right time as the band was on the cusp of fame in England.

Manager Brian Epstein brought Taylor aboard as the Beatles’ press agent.

Taylor accompanied the boys as they rocketed to worldwide fame, looking on as they transcended music to become cultural icons.

Taylor’s story — as he recounted in his 1987 book called It Was Twenty Years Ago Today — reminds us that the Beatles were not just a band; they were a cultural phenomenon that continues to shape the world of music.

So here now, from 1987, Derek Taylor.

Derek Taylor died in 1997. He was 65.


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From Jed Clampett to Abraham Lincoln: The Extraordinary Journey of Buddy Ebsen

Photo by CBS Television

Buddy Ebsen, best known for his iconic role as Jed Clampett in”The Beverly Hillbillies,” had a remarkable career in Hollywood.

Ebsen’s career spanned more than seven decades, and his experiences offer a unique perspective on the entertainment industry.

As he told in his 1994 autobiography The Other Side of Oz, Ebsen worked with some of Hollywood’s iconic figures like Shirley Temple and Louis B. Mayer. And even other figures like Al Capone.

And you may know that Buddy was the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, but in this 1994 interview he reveals a few things you may not have known.

And he tells about the three questions everyone always had for him.

So here now, from 1994, Buddy Ebsen.

Buddy Ebsen died in 2003 at the age of 95.


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Ed Nixon

Ed Nixon in 1968

When Edward Nixon was born in 1931, his older brother Richard was already 17. And Ed, along with middle son Don, looked up to their studious and serious big brother.

Ed Worked on his brothers campaigns, but never got further involved in politics, instead choosing what turned out to be a very successful career as a geologist.

After Richard Nixon’s death in 1994, his brothers Don and Ed felt an urgency to write the story they felt needed to be told about the family. But with Don Nixon in failing health himself, the task fell to Ed.

In 2009, he wrote a book called The Nixons: A Family Portrait.

So here now, from 2009, Ed Nixon.

Ed Nixon died in 2019. He was 88.


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Darlene Love

Photo by Montclair Film Festival

Success as a backup singer or studio musician can sometimes lead to a very successful solo career. But in the case of Darlene Love, it was a bumpy road, to say the least.

Even though she was one of the most popular and most in-demand backup singers of the 1960s, working with some of the biggest stars, her path to a solo career was littered with obstacles.

Not least of them was producer Phil Spector.

And by the way, even if you have not heard her music, you have probably seen Darlene Love in one of the l”Lethal Weapon” movies, alongside co-star Danny Glover.

As the 1990s were drawing to a close, Love wrote her autobiography. And that’s when I met her.

So here now, from 1998, Darlene Love.

Darlene Love is 82 now. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.


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