Regis Philbin, iconic TV host and Navy veteran, dead at 88

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Regis Philbin sitting waving hand in air to audience smiling

Regis Philbin, the effervescent broadcast personality whose everyman shtick, pithy one-liners and ability to relate to a live studio audience on talk shows such as “Live! With Regis and Kelly” kept him face-to-face with America for seven decades, has died.

Philbin died Friday of natural causes, his family said in a statement provided to the Times. He was 88.

“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him — for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about,” Philbin’s family said. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

Self-effacing and given to amusing and sometimes sarcastic banter about the mundane ups and downs of life — a visit from his mother-in-law, a night at the Mets game — Philbin became a familiar and comfortable guest in America’s living rooms while perfecting the format of television morning talk shows.

Known affectionately as “Reege” and “Outregis,” Philbin got his start in television as a page at NBC Studios in New York. He made a name for himself guest-hosting “The Tonight Show” and serving as comedian Joey Bishop’s sidekick and announcer on “The Joey Bishop Show” in the 1960s. “Late Show” host David Letterman regarded Philbin as “a master communicator” and had him on his show more than any other guest in the show’s history.
Television host Regis Philbin waves goodbye during his final show of on ABC’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” in New York, November 18, 2011. After nearly three decades hosting the show that became “Live With Regis and Kelly,” Regis Philbin stepped down with a few well wishes to his colleagues and fans.

In a 2000 Times interview, when asked what made him likable, Philbin seemed embarrassed by the question.

“I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to answer about yourself,” he said. “I guess it’s good genes. My parents brought me up well, to have pleasure when making people happy.”

Then, he seemed to pause and reconsider, exclaiming (as he was wont to do): “Oh, no! I can see the headlines now! ‘Regis Thinks He’s a Nice Guy! Who Does He Think He Is?!’”

But it was that avuncular charm that endeared him to legions of fans who tuned in for his unscripted tête-à-têtes each morning as the host of ABC’s “Live!” with co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and, later, Kelly Ripa. To preserve authenticity and ensure spontaneity during their conversations, Philbin refused to talk with his co-hosts before they went on the air.

The show’s executive producer said Philbin’s on-screen persona was not an act.

“People probably think Regis turns it on for TV,” Michael Gelman said in 2004. “They think they are seeing ‘TV Regis.’ Regis on TV is Regis off TV.”

At age 80, and after more than 56 years on TV in Los Angeles and New York, Philbin departed “Live!” during an emotional finale. Some said Philbin was finally tired of the daily grind and the early hours and wanted an easier life. He was replaced by the affable NFL player turned analyst Michael Strahan, who co-hosted with Ripa until he bowed out in 2016.

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The oldest living Marine, a North Carolina woman, has died at age 107

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side by side headshots of U.S. Marine Dorothy Cole as a young Marine and most current wearing a shriners hat

Dorothy “Dot” Cole was the oldest living US Marine veteran when she died on January 7. She was 107 years old.

Cole, who was born in 1913 and grew up in Warren, Pennsylvania, suffered a heart attack in the home they shared in North Carolina, her daughter Beth Kluttz told CNN by phone Saturday.

Cole decided she would take a stance to support her country after Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

“There were women volunteering with the Red Cross and knitting while sitting in church, so I thought I had to do something,” Cole told the Marine Corps Times in an interview in September. “At the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything great. I knew I was helping our country.”

She was 28 years old in 1943 when she became among the first wave of women to join the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, according to her daughter.

Cole wanted to be like Amelia Earhart, Kluttz said, and had taken flying lessons in hopes of becoming a pilot.

“She thought she would impress the military by taking flying lessons. She had about 200 flying hours in, and flying a Piper Cub, and she thought that would impress the military and the Marine Corps,” Kluttz said. “But when she got in there, they just put her behind the desk.”

She attained the rank of sergeant before leaving the Marines. The Marine Corps paid tribute to Cole in a tweet that ended, “Semper Fi, Marine.”

The US Naval Institute said in a tweet that Cole was the oldest living Marine, and “like most women in the era,” was given clerical work so men could fight in combat. Women became a permanent part of the Marine Corps in 1948, according to the Women Marines Association.

The Marine Corps eventually saw its first female pilot in 1995, according to Military Times. All jobs in the military, including combat roles, were opened to women in 2016.

Photo Credit: CNN

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Tuskegee Airman From LA Dies of COVID-19 Days Before 101st Birthday

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Theodore Lumpkin headshot from the 1940's dressed in military uniform with his name below

By City News Service

Los Angeles native and Congressional Gold Medal recipient Theodore Lumpkin Jr., who made history when he joined the Tuskegee Airmen, has died days before his 101st birthday, it was recently announced.

The social worker and realtor died from COVID-19 complications on Dec. 26, according to Los Angeles City College.

Born and raised in L.A., Lumpkin attended LACC from 1938 to 1940 and received an associate degree. He was a 21-year-old junior majoring in mathematics at UCLA when he was drafted into the military.

In the U.S. Army Air Corps, he was assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron — one of the famous all-Black squadrons of the 332d Fighter Group — in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Army Air Forces program in Tuskegee was established to train Black military pilots and recruits, who became some of the most recognized and decorated pilots serving in World War II.

In January 1946, Lumpkin received an honorable separation from active-duty service and used education funds from the GI Bill to earn his undergraduate degree in sociology at USC. He was hired by the county of Los Angeles as a social worker and furthered his education by earning a master’s degree in social work from USC in 1953.

He worked in the county’s Bureau of Adoptions and urban affairs, community development and model cities departments. He continued his military service with the inactive Air Force Reserves. He retired from social work in 1979 and launched a second career in real estate.

In March 2007, Lumpkin was recognized for his role in the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian.

Lumpkin said he was proud to have been among the Tuskegee Airmen invited to attend former President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony in 2009. A 2007 statement by then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama underscored the impact of the airmen, saying, “My career in public service was made possible by the path heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen trailblazed.”

Lumpkin is survived by his 99-year-old wife.

Read the full article onNBC News Los Angeles

Hall of Fame Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda dies at 93

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Tommy Lasorda visits with a U.S. Soldier and autographs a baseball for him

Originally posted on ESPN

Tommy Lasorda, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved during his 71 years with the franchise, has died. He was 93.

The Dodgers said Friday that he suffered heart failure at his home in Fullerton, California. Resuscitation attempts were made on the way to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.

Lasorda had a history of heart problems, including a heart attack in 1996 that ended his managerial career and another in 2012 that required him to have a pacemaker.

He had just returned home Tuesday after being hospitalized since Nov. 8 with heart issues.

Lasorda attended the Dodgers’ Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27 in Texas that clinched the team’s first World Series title since 1988.

“It feels appropriate that in his final months, he saw his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1988 team,” commissioner Rob Manfred said.

Lasorda had served as special adviser to team owner and chairman Mark Walter for the last 14 years, and maintained a frequent presence at games sitting in Walter’s box.

“He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball, a mentor to players and coaches, he always had time for an autograph and a story for his many fans and he was a good friend,” Walter said. “He will be dearly missed.”

Lasorda worked as a player, scout, manager and front office executive with the Dodgers dating to their roots in Brooklyn.

He compiled a 1,599-1,439 record, won World Series titles in 1981 and ’88, four National League pennants and eight division titles while serving as Dodgers manager from 1977-96.Tommy Lasorda on the cover of U.S. Veterans Veterans

He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1997 as a manager. He guided the U.S. to a baseball gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Lasorda was the franchise’s longest-tenured active employee since Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully retired in 2016 after 67 years. He drew standing ovations when introduced at games in recent years.

“There are two things about Tommy I will always remember,” Scully said. “The first is his boundless enthusiasm. Tommy would get up in the morning full of beans and maintain that as long as he was with anybody else. The other was his determination. He was a fellow with limited ability and he pushed himself to be a very good Triple-A pitcher. He never quite had that something extra that makes a major leaguer, but it wasn’t because he didn’t try.”

Lasorda often proclaimed, “I bleed Dodger blue” and he kept a bronze plaque on his desk reading: “Dodger Stadium was his address, but every ballpark was his home.″

As a pitcher, Lasorda had a modest career at the major league level, going 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA and 13 strikeouts from 1954-56.

Born Thomas Charles Lasorda on Sept. 22, 1927, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, his pro career began when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 1945. He missed the 1946 and ’47 seasons while serving in the Army.

Lasorda returned in 1948 and once struck out 25 in a 15-inning game. In his next two starts, he struck out 15 and 13, gaining the attention of the Dodgers, who drafted him from the Phillies. He played in Panama and Cuba before making his major league debut on Aug. 5, 1954, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although he didn’t play in the 1955 World Series, he won a ring as a member of the team.

Lasorda pitched for the Dodgers for two seasons before the Kansas City Athletics bought his contract. He was traded to the Yankees in 1956 and sent down to the Triple-A Denver Bears before being sold back to the Dodgers in 1957. During his time with the Bears, Lasorda was influenced by manager Ralph Houk, who became his role model.

“Ralph taught me if that if you treat players like human beings, they will play like Superman,″ Lasorda said in his 2009 biography “I Live For This: Baseball’s Last True Believer.″

“He taught me how a pat on a shoulder can be just as important as a kick in the butt.″

Lasorda stayed on with the Dodgers as a scout after they released him in 1960. That was the beginning of a steady climb through the Dodgers’ system that culminated in his 1973 promotion to the big-league staff under longtime Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston.

Lasorda spent four seasons as third base coach while considered to be the heir apparent to Alston, who retired in September 1976.

Lasorda took over and his gregarious personality was in stark contrast to his restrained predecessor. Lasorda was known for his enthusiasm and outspoken opinions about players. He would jump around and pump his arms in the air after Dodgers victories and embrace players in the dugout after home runs or other good plays.

In L.A., Lasorda found many of the players he had managed in the minors, including Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Bobby Valentine and Bill Buckner.

Read the full article on ESPN.

Military veterans, supporters to pay tribute with 8,426 miles nationwide on September 11

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men and women running carrying flags in support of USA and 9/11

On the 19th anniversary of September 11, thousands of veterans and supporters will come together in their communities to move American flags 8,426 miles as part of Team Red, White & Blue’s 9/11 Moving Tribute, presented by Window World.

Window World franchises across the country will join Team RWB to host in-person and virtual Moving Tributes. More than 25 Window World locations will participate by walking and running with American flags in solidarity.

The anniversary of September 11 holds a notable significance in the lives of our nation’s veterans. September 11, 2001 defined the service of many Team RWB members. It may have been the reason they deployed or even the reason they enlisted in the military.

Team RWB’s 9/11 Moving Tribute, sponsored by Peraton, offers veterans and civilians alike an opportunity to ensure that the memory of that day and the legacy of those who have served since is not forgotten. “It is imperative to recognize the significance of September 11 on our military community and our country,” said Mike Erwin, Executive Director of Team RWB. “We’re honored that thousands of supporters and our partners are joining this effort to recognize the victims, responders, and service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

“The tragic events of September 11 inspired many military members to take action to protect their fellow Americans,” said Window World Chairman and CEO Tammy Whitworth. “Our nation’s veterans made numerous sacrifices for our country, and the Window World Family wants to show our gratitude and respect. We are privileged to join Team RWB in its efforts to support this country’s service members.”

8,426 miles represents the 2,977 lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93, and 5,500 service members who were killed in action in the wars following. 

About Team Red, White & Blue

Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB), a nonprofit organization founded in 2010, insists that all veterans have the opportunity to reclaim what was most precious about their military service: an unwavering sense of belonging born of challenges that show us what we are capable of. Team RWB is where veterans belong. For more information, visit teamrwb.org.

About Window World®

Window World®, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, N.C., is America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company, with more than 200 locally owned franchises nationwide. Founded in 1995, the company sells and installs windows, siding, doors and other exterior products, with over 18 million windows sold to date. Window World is an ENERGY STAR® partner and its windows, vinyl siding and Therma-Tru doors have all earned the GoodHousekeeping Seal. Through its charitable foundation, Window World Cares®, Window World and its franchisees provide funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, which honored the company with its Organizational Support Award in 2017. Since its inception in 2008, the foundation has raised over $10.75 million for St. Jude. Window World also supports the Veterans Airlift Command, a nonprofit organization that facilitates free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. As a member of that network, Window World’s corporate jet has provided transportation for over 115 missions, transporting 360 people around the country, including veterans and their families. In total, Window World has contributed over $2.5 million in flights and donations since 2008. For more information, visit WindowWorld.com or call 1-800 NEXTWINDOW. For home improvement and energy efficiency tips, décor ideas and more, follow Window World on Facebook and Twitter.

Hugh Downs, Longtime ’20/20’ Anchor and and WWII Veteran, Dies at 99

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hugh downs seated in tv anchor chair while doing the nightly news in the 60's

Hugh Downs, anchorman for the ABC news program “20/20” and, before that, NBC’s “The Today Show,” died Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 99.

Downs’ career in broadcasting spanned more than half a century. And despite his assertion “I am not a talent, I am a personality,” Downs proved a first-rate interviewer and journalist time and again. His personality was ingratiating and low-key; well into his 70s, his pleasant demeanor made him a welcome guest in the nation’s living rooms. With Barbara Walters, his co-host on both “Today” and “20/20,” he formed one of the most complementary partnerships in television news programming.

Prior to “Today,” Downs made a name for himself as emcee of the quizshow “Concentration” and as sage in residence on the Jack Paar “Tonight Show.”

In 1960, when Paar walked off “The Tonight Show” in a dispute with network censors, Downs stepped in and saved the day, winning NBC’s admiration in the process. He was rewarded with the anchor spot of the “Today” show in 1962, replacing John Chancellor. He remained for nine years, reaching 12 million homes every morning for two hours.

During that period he also reported and narrated news documentaries and specials such as “The American Wilderness,” the Emmy-winning “The Everglades,” “The Ice People,” “The Great Barrier Reef,” “Survival on the Prairie” and “The First Americans.”

Downs left “Today” in 1971 to pursue other interests, consulting, teaching and writing work. In 1978 he joined ABC, hosting “20/20,” the network’s newsmagazine show. He also did a great deal of reporting, particularly in the early years, on medical breakthroughs and did adventure news segments.

Hugh Malcolm Downs was born in Akron, Ohio. He completed only one year of college at Bluffton in Ohio before his family’s Depression-strapped finances forced him to enter the job market. In 1939, after a long search, he landed a spot as an announcer on small Lima, Ohio, station WLOK — at $7.50 a week. Within a year he was program director and earning a princely $25 a week.

He soon moved on to WWJ in Detroit while studying at Wayne U. He would later attend Columbia U. and get a post-Master’s degree in gerontology from Hunter College.

During the war he was drafted into the Army and assigned to the 123rd Infantry. He was part of an experimental basic training program that condensed 13 weeks into four. Like many of his colleagues, he collapsed from exhaustion, was hospitalized and given a medical discharge.

In 1943 he joined NBC station WMAQ in Chicago as an announcer, interviewer and DJ. He broke into television as the announcer for Fran Allison and Burr Tillstrom’s “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” show out of Chicago.

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Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone… a farewell to Navy veteran and soul singer Bill Withers

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Bill Withers playing guitar

Bill Withers died earlier in the week from complications from heart disease at age 81. Withers was known for his amazing vocals, soulful songs and was one of the best soul singers of all time. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy.

His death has resulted in an outpouring of mourning and grief from singers, artists and fans cross the world.

Regarded as one of the best songwriters of his generation, his influence has been seen in multiple genres of music and generations of artists. Withers gave us such classics as ‘Lean On Me,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ ‘Just the Two of Us’ and ‘Lovely Day.’

But there is one song that really resonates with veterans. In 1973, Withers released a song he had written while America was still involved in Vietnam.

Withers was born July 4, 1938, in Slab Fork, West Virginia. He was afflicted with a stutter from the time he was a child. He enlisted in the Navy at 18 where he served as an aircraft mechanic. He had good reason for wanting that field.

Withers told Rolling Stone, “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward. So I went to aircraft-mechanic school. I still had to prove to people that thought I was genetically inferior that I wasn’t too stupid to drain the oil out of an airplane.”

While he was in the Navy, he was able to do speech therapy so he could stop stuttering. In fact, he stayed in the Navy as long as he could so he could work on his speech. He overcame his stutter using various techniques while also developing an interest in singing and songwriting. After nine years of service, he was discharged in 1965 and moved to Los Angeles to try and break into the music business. Withers worked for the aviation industry during the day while playing local night clubs at night trying to get noticed. His hard work paid off, when in 1970, he was signed to a record contract. His first album came out a year later and his career took off shortly thereafter.

After a couple of years of hits, Withers would write and perform a song that would be hailed as one of the most poignant songs about veterans and the war in Vietnam.

“I Can’t Write Left-Handed” was written from the perspective of a wounded warrior. It wasn’t a political statement, it wasn’t self-righteous, it wasn’t inflammatory. It was simply what he thought Vietnam Veterans went through and what they were going to go through. It was one of the first songs to touch on the mental anguish and post traumatic stress many Vietnam Veterans experienced in the years after the war.

Withers opened the song with a spoken intro….

“We recorded this song on October the 6th. Since then the war’s been declared over. If you’re like me you’ll remember it like anybody remembers any war: one big drag. Lot of people write songs about wars and government … Very social things. But I think about young guys who were like I was when I was young. I had no more idea about any government, or political things or anything. And I think about those kind of young guys now who all of a sudden somebody comes up, and they’re very law-abiding, so if somebody says go they don’t ask any questions they just go. And I can remember not too long ago seeing a young guy with his right arm gone. Just got back. And I asked him how he was doing. He said he was doing all right now but he had thought he was gonna die. He said getting shot at didn’t bother him, it was getting shot that shook him up. And I tried to put myself in his position. Maybe he cried, maybe he said…”

The lyrics then tell us the story of the man with a missing right arm.

I can’t write left handed

Would you please write a letter to my mother
Tell her to tell the family lawyer
Try to get a deferment for my younger brother

Tell the Reverend Harris to pray for me, lord, lord, lord
I ain’t gonna live, I don’t believe I’m going to live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never
Bless his heart I ain’t never done nothin’ to, he done shot me in my shoulder

Boot camp we had classes
You know we talked about fightin’, fightin’ everyday
And lookin’ through rosy, rosy colored glasses
I must admit it seemed exciting anyway
But something that day overlooked to tell me
Bullet look better I must say
Rather when they comin’ at you.
But go without the other way

And please call up the Reverend Harris
And tell him to ask the lord to do some good things for me
Tell him, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never seen, bless his heart I
Ain’t never done nothing to, he done shot me in my shoulder

After a long career with many hits, Withers withdrew from the music industry. He felt that he was too old and that touring and performing were a young man’s game. Withers will go down as one of the true icons of soul and one of the best vocalists of his generation. Let us also remember him for his service to our country as well as using his talent to give a voice to those who served in Vietnam. Rest in peace, Sir.

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