Mobituaries with Mo Rocca
Mobituaries with Mo Rocca
About Mobituaries with Mo Rocca
“CBS News Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries. Each episode of Mobituaries covers his favorite dearly departed people and things. This season profiles legendary athlete Jim Thorpe in "Death of an All-American", iconic singer/songwriter Peggy Lee in "Death of Cool", and even the death of the mid-Atlantic accent, best known from the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Franklin Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy. Mo even has a few new things in store including an episode that looks back at folks who "Died on the Same Day.” Think: Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett; John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; Jim Henson and Sammy Davis, Jr. – and then there’s Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello? Tune in for fresh takes on famous legacies and tributes to people who never got the sendoff they deserved. Even if you know the names, you’ve never understood why they matter until now!
“Nepo Baby” is a term popularly used to describe the celebrity children of celebrity parents. But family connections affect every field of work, and always have. And where family is involved, so is drama. Mo tells the stories of three of history’s biggest Nepo Babies: Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford; President John Quincy Adams, the son of President John Adams; and Pushinka, daughter of Soviet space dog Strelka. (Yes, fur babies can be nepo babies!) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
November 22, 2023, marks 60 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the end of one of the era's biggest comedy acts. During Kennedy's term, Vaughn Meader’s impersonation of the president made him a household name. The comedy album "The First Family,” in which Meader uncannily played JFK, broke sales records and won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Meader's act was so convincing and edgy for the time, White House advisers actually worried about the public confusing him for the real thing. Mo tells the story of Vaughn Meader's brief and blazing time in the limelight and the long darkness that followed, alongside never-before-heard tape of Meader recorded shortly before his death. This episode originally published on January 17, 2019. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When Candice Bergen describes her childhood as weird and eccentric, she isn’t exaggerating. She grew up with a world-famous sibling, who met presidents and movie stars. He was also a dummy – the kind made of wood. Charlie McCarthy was the creation of her ventriloquist father Edgar Bergen. Candice tells Mo what life was like sharing her father’s love and attention with a puppet. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this podcast we’ve honored some of our past’s most outstanding and underappreciated people and things. May they live on in memory. But let’s face it, some things deserve to disappear and be consigned to the dustbin of history. In this episode, Mo nominates three things that he’d like to see go the way of the dodo. Mo talks to food writer Kim Severson about buffets, culture critic Erick Neher about standing ovations, and sensory historian Mark Smith about noise. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Have you ever wondered about that old timey accent so many actors used in black and white movies? Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Orson Welles, who sounded sort of British … but not quite. Was it all a put on or did people back then talk that way in real life? Mo investigates the emergence and disappearance of the accent commonly known as “Mid-Atlantic” with the help of linguist John McWhorter. Plus Hollywood dialect coach Jessica Drake tries her best to teach Mo how to talk that way. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When gold medalist Jim Thorpe was dubbed "the world's greatest athlete" at the 1912 Olympics, it wasn't hype. Football, baseball, lacrosse, even ballroom dancing ... Thorpe was the world's first multi-sport superstar. But when the Native American icon had his Olympic medals unjustly stripped from him, he faced his toughest hurdle yet. Mo talks to biographer David Maraniss about Thorpe's meteoric rise from Oklahoma Indian territory to global celebrity, and his surprising third act in Hollywood. Plus an interview with granddaughter Anita Thorpe. And Mo visits Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a town with a history as startling as the man himself. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
There were so many different Peggy Lees: The woman who defined cool in the 1950s with songs like "Fever." The songwriter of hits including the score to "Lady and the Tramp." The icon who inspired Miss Piggy, originally named Miss Piggy Lee. (Yes, really.) But all those Peggy Lees can be traced back to the plains of North Dakota, where she endured a painful upbringing and dreamed big. Mo travels with Lee's granddaughter Holly Foster Wells to her childhood home. You'll also hear from biographer Peter Richmond, and hear previously unreleased material recorded by Lee. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When it comes to obituaries, Mo has always been obsessed with the phenomenon of public figures who share the same death day. So he’s asked CNN anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper to join the podcast to talk about who gets top billing and why. You’ll hear about the case of one person’s death getting “buried” by the death of somebody else. (#Justice4Farrah) There’s also the eerie coincidence of two Founding Fathers dying on the same exact day -- July 4th, no less. And finally, we’ll look at some of the oddest “death fellows” in recent history. Special appearances by legendary obit writers Kay Powell and John Pope. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Mo Rocca is back with another fascinating season of Mobituaries, exploring the people and things that are no longer with us but deserve a second look. You’ll hear all about notable figures who "Died on the Same Day" along with the three "Things Mo Wishes Would Die." There’s also the story behind the Queen of Cool, Peggy Lee, and the remarkable tale of Jim Thorpe, long considered the world’s greatest athlete. Plus, so much more to come! Listen to new episodes every Wednesday. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original Broadway production of the musical Cats premiered in 1982, a young dancer named Timothy Scott was just entering his prime. Cast in the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, he left audiences (including a young Mo) spellbound with an acrobatic dancing that seemed to defy physics. But before the end of the decade, Scott was a victim of the AIDS crisis. 35 years after his death, Mo remembers Tim Scott and his dazzling talent, with help from his partner Norman Buckley and Broadway legends Betty Buckley, Baayork Lee and Ken Page. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Before his name became synonymous with treason, Benedict Arnold was a bonafide hero of the American Revolutionary War. At critical moments Arnold inspired the Patriots with his grit and determination and earned the admiration of George Washington. Despite his popularity and battlefield prowess, Benedict Arnold eventually broke bad. Mo talks with author Nathaniel Philbrick about the now-notorious military man’s twisty path to betrayal - and explores the surprising backstories of other villains including France’s Philippe Pétain and Satan. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The banana we eat today is not the same kind our grandparents grew up eating. Today’s variety, called the Cavendish, is generally regarded as the bland successor to the richer tasting Gros Michel (French for “Big Mike”) of yesteryear. But when a deadly fungus ravaged the Gros Michel in the mid-20th century, the banana barons had no choice but to make a switch. Mo talks with ‘Banana’ expert Dan Koeppel about the surprising history of the fruit, and talks - and sings! - with Broadway legend André De Shields. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
At one of the most dangerous moments in the Cold War, an ordinary 5th grade girl from Maine wrote to the leader of the Soviet Union with a simple plea for peace. When he wrote back with an invitation to visit the Soviet Union in the summer of 1982, it became an international news story and one of the most improbable peace missions of the era. Mo tells the story of the “Littlest Diplomat” and how she became a powerful symbol of shared humanity on both sides of the iron curtain. Guests include childhood friends of Samantha, her Russian “summer camp buddy” and actor Robert Wagner. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We love historical “Firsts” so much that we end up ignoring the people who come right after them. But without these runners-up, the trailblazers are just one-offs or oddities––instead of the beginning of big change. Mo celebrates the Black baseball great who joined the major leagues just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson, the second American woman in space, and the British invasion band that for a time played second fiddle only to The Beatles. With guests sportscaster Otis Livingston, Michael Oldak and Rhino Records co-founder Harold Bronson. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Fans of Broadway and Barbra Streisand probably know the name Fanny Brice as the woman who refuses to let anyone rain on her parade in the beloved musical "Funny Girl." But the real Fanny Brice, the original funny girl, was a trailblazing Jewish comedian, who lit up Broadway and created one of the most famous characters on radio. Mo looks back at Fanny's story (The ups! The downs! The nose job!) with biographer Barbara Grossman and talks with culture critic Erick Neher about how Barbra Streisand would ultimately eclipse the star she portrayed. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Mo goes behind the scenes of season 3 of Mobituaries with the host of The Takeout, Major Garrett. They share a delicious meal and dig into the highlights of Mobits’ history and the complexity behind why people and things deserve a second look at their lives. Hear a sneak peek into the upcoming stories of season 3 and Major’s very own recommendation for his ideal Mobit. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Mo’s deep appreciation for our less-remembered presidents led him to purchase a giant bust of Grover Cleveland, which has dominated his living room for over 20 years. But when the New York Times questioned the bust’s identity, it set in motion a quest, culminating in an appearance by Mo and his bust on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. Producer Adam Monahan documented the saga on this season 2 episode of his podcast Detours (GBH and PRX), a podcast that reveals what happens to all that stuff on America’s favorite antiques show, which originally aired in January 2022. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The frenzy Rudolph Valentino caused in life was matched only by the pandemonium unleashed when he died at age 31. With his brooding good looks and vulnerability, he and the other "Latin Lovers" that followed redefined the leading man. Mo also recounts the triumphant and tragic story of superstar Ramon Novarro and talks with TV star Lorenzo Lamas about his father, the debonair Fernando Lamas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's hard to imagine childhood without the classic cartoon characters June Foray gave voice to: Little Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch, Granny from the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's villainous cobra. June Foray even provided the voice of the Chatty Cathy doll. Mo talks with Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson) and Bob Bergen (Porky Pig) about the woman they call 'the Meryl Streep of voice actors.' See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
1967 was a big year for marriage in America. The Supreme Court's ruling in Loving v. Virginia overturned bans on interracial marriage in 16 states. The movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner starred Sidney Poitier as a Black doctor engaged to a white woman. And in the middle of it all, Peggy Rusk and Guy Smith, a very private couple who made the cover of Time Magazine for their wedding. Mo talks to Peggy Rusk about their remarkable love story (involving presidents and horses) and to Professor Sheryll Cashin about the surprising history of interracial relationships. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.