Most adolescents worry about acne and raging hormones. At 15, Joe Nuxhall had to worry about a stadium full of fans urging him--as a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds--to thwart the St. Louis Cardinals. During a 1944 game, the Ohio teen--whose local-league dad had recommended him to the Reds when the team was depleted by World War II--stepped up and earned two outs before losing his cool. He didn't pitch again for the team for eight years, but Nuxhall, who in recent years was the radio-broadcast voice of the Reds, had become the youngest player in major league history. He was 79.
When the military told him in 1953 that it would discharge him if he did not renounce his father--who was suspected of being a communist because he read a Serbian newspaper--Air Force Lieut. Milo Radulovich said no and appealed. ("I could see a chain reaction," he said.) Radulovich, who later became a meteorologist, was made famous by Edward R. Murrow on CBS's See It Now (and in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck); weeks after the broadcast the Air Force reversed its position. Radulovich was 81.
In 1963 the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., killed four little girls and galvanized the civil rights movement. If not for pastor John Cross Jr., who dug through rubble to discover the victims after hearing the explosion, it could easily have sparked further immediate violence. Cross, who had made his church a center for the movement, calmed angry protesters and officiated before 8,000 at a funeral for three of the girls, during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the eulogy. Cross was forever haunted, saying recently that "hardly a day passes I don't think about it. I dream about it two or three times a week." He was 82.
His family was so renowned for its makeup skills, it was selected in June to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There were Dad, a makeup guru on Gone With the Wind; Grandfather, who started the first-ever studio makeup department; five makeup-artist uncles; and himself. Over 50 years, Monty Westmore lent his touch to 100 movies, including The Late Shift (for which he created doppelgängers for David Letterman and Jay Leno and scored an Emmy nomination) and Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and Hook, the latter nabbing Westmore an Oscar nod. He was 84.
She mistrusted accolades and hated fanfare, but as a behind-the-scenes co-director (along with her husband) of New York City's pioneering interdisciplinary Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuro-Psycho-analysis--the first in the world to bridge brain science and the long-stagnant field of psychoanalysis--Marjorie Pfeffer was in her element. The center, which the sage, enthusiastic child analyst steered after her husband's death in 2002, was launched in 1990 and spawned an international association, a successful journal and hundreds of similar centers around the globe. She was 86.
Until the end of his life, Ian Smith, Rhodesia's last white Prime Minister, believed there was nothing wrong with his white-minority government's 14-year reign over the nation's 5 million blacks. The right-winger declared independence from Britain in 1965, ruling Rhodesia despite raging civil wars, sanctions and global disdain. In 1980, after Smith finally bowed to international pressure, black nationalist Robert Mugabe was elected President and renamed the nation Zimbabwe. Smith was 88.
He played a great drunk on TV's Bewitched and a range of comic characters on sitcoms like Hogan's Heroes and The Bob Newhart Show. But any baby boomer knows comedic character actor Dick Wilson as Mr. Whipple, the beleaguered grocer in toilet-paper ads who begs of customers, "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." The iconic ad campaign, which ran from 1964 to 1985, rocketed Wilson into pop-culture history--and national fame. "Everybody says, 'Where did they find you?'" the veteran actor told a reporter in 1985. "I say I was never lost." He was 91.
Few memoir titles encapsulate a life as deftly as civil rights lawyer Victor Rabinowitz's: Unrepentant Leftist. Often with partner Leonard Boudin, he defended such clients as the Black Panthers, blacklisted writer Dashiell Hammett and accused spy Alger Hiss. In 1960 Rabinowitz and Boudin added Cuba to their client roster after a poolside game of chess in Havana with Che Guevara. A few years later, Rabinowitz successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Cuba was entitled to funds from the sale of products formerly owned by a U.S. citizen. Rabinowitz was 96.