The clubbing of Nancy Kerrigan's knee by a compatriot of rival figure skater Tonya Harding was one of the weirdest and ugliest moments in sports history. The man who hatched the plan with Harding's ex-husband Jeff Stone: her beefy bodyguard, Brian Sean Griffith. Griffith confessed days after the attack, helping to nab the hired assailant, and spent more than a year in prison. He later changed his name (from Shawn Eckhardt) in an attempt to put the events behind him. He was 40 and died of apparently natural causes.
His gift was in turning the intensely personal into radio gold. The breakout album for singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg was the 1974 Joe Walsh-produced Souvenirs. Its confessional soft-rock hit, Part of the Plan, was the first of a string of emotional, radio-friendly tunes, including Leader of the Band, written for his bandleader father, and Same Old Lang Syne, about a chance meeting with an old girlfriend. By the end of the decade, he was an icon for sensitive souls everywhere. (Comedian Denis Leary joked that his adolescent admiration for Fogelberg hindered his success with girls.) Fogelberg discovered he had prostate cancer in 2004, a year after releasing his last studio album, Full Circle. He was 56.
As soon as he saw the trove of letters that had been discovered in a Dumpster near his home, historian Allan Berube knew he would write a book. The missives, written by gay GIs who had met at an Army base in Missouri and stayed in touch throughout World War II, told vivid stories of love, friendly nightspots and the difficulties of being gay in the military. The resulting 1990 book, Coming Out Under Fire, won Berube a MacArthur award, inspired a Peabody-winning documentary and is widely considered the definitive piece of scholarship on the subject. He was 61 and died of complications from stomach ulcers.
The first woman and first African American to represent traditionally conservative Indianapolis in the U.S. Congress, Julia Carson was a bit of an anomaly in Washington. She did not graduate from college, wore big hats and liked to call friends and constituents "baby." Yet in 1996 the Democrat won her seat in part by insisting, despite criticism for being soft on crime, that her budget proposals would focus more on computers for education than on pricey anticrime measures. An early opponent of the war in Iraq, she warned in 2003 before the invasion, "We should have learned by the Vietnam War, but we did not." Carson, who had lung cancer, was 69.
As a South Dakota Sioux attending an off-reservation elementary school, actor-musician Floyd Red Crow Westerman had to cut his hair and stop speaking his native language. The experience pushed him in later years to restlessly promote his heritage. A celebrated activist for Native American causes, he became a well-known actor in dozens of films and TV shows, and toured with Sting and performed with Willie Nelson. In his best-known role he played Sioux leader Ten Bears, who befriends Kevin Costner's character in 1990's Dances with Wolves. Westerman was 71 and had leukemia.
He was one of the original Hollywood superagents. Long before Mike Ovitz ruled, the gentler, more charming Freddie Fields succeeded in producing (American Gigolo, Glory) and in founding First Artists, one of the first talent-owned production companies. But his claim to fame was establishing CMA (Creative Management Associates) with David Begelman. Now part of powerhouse agency ICM, CMA was home to such A-listers of the 1960s and '70s as Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Steve McQueen, Woody Allen, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Fields was 84.
At age 82, he walked 303 miles (488 km) in a six-day race--and that was the least of his feats. In 1959 Ted Corbitt, dubbed the "father of American distance running," introduced Americans to the "ultramarathon"--a race that is longer, often significantly so, than the traditional 26 miles (42 km)--with a 30-mile (48 km) event in New York. The co-founder of the Road Runners Club of America, he trained by running 200 miles (320 km) a week and won 30 of his 199 events. The secret? "[You] have to be very strange," he said. "You don't have to ... beat someone--you just have to get through the thing. That's the sense of victory." Corbitt was 88.