A look back at the esteemed personalities who left us this year, who’d touched us with their innovation, creativity and humanity.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this gallery.
Actor and comedian Bob Saget (May 17, 1956-January 9, 2022) was studying film at the University of Southern California when he left college to pursue stand-up comedy. “I never knew that I could do that until I got up the nerve to go on stage,” he told the Norfolk (Va.) Daily Press in 1990. “Look what trouble that’s gotten me into.”
Small acting roles in “Bosom Buddies,” “New Love, American Style” and “It’s a Living” led to his starring role in the sitcom “Full House,” playing a widower raising three daughters with the help of his best friend and his brother-in-law. The show (which costarred John Stamos, Davie Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, and – as the youngest child, Michelle – twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) ran for eight seasons.
He would play another widower in the sitcom “Raising Dad,” and returned to the Tanner household in the 2016 sequel series, “Fuller House.” Saget was also the narrator of the long-running CBS series, “How I Met Your Mother.”
His charisma and wholesome humor were put to good use as the host of the family-friendly “America’s Funniest Home Videos” for its first eight years. But his comedy could run much bluer, as in the 2005 documentary “The Aristocrats,” in which he contributed his take on the world’s dirtiest joke. He had a cameo appearance as a cocaine addict in “Half Baked,” and in the comedy series “Entourage,” he was featured as a foul-mouthed, misogynistic character named … Bob Saget.
As Saget told “CBS This Morning” in 2017, his uncensored stand-up could come as a surprise to his TV fans: “I was playing in Vancouver one night in a casino up there, and there was a lady that just started to walk. But for the most part I always adapt in a chameleon-like way to the audience. I don’t purposely go, ‘I’m gonna be crass here,’ if they’re not enjoying it, you know? I want to get laughs.”
He also directed several films, including the Norm MacDonald comedy “Dirty Work,” “Benjamin,” the mockumentary “Farce of the Penguins,” and the TV movie “For Hope,” a drama about a woman battling scleroderma, inspired by his late sister, Gay. In 2020, when the pandemic halted his planned comedy tour, he hosted a podcast, “Bob Saget’s Here For You,” in which he answered fans’ questions.
In January, while in Florida on his “I Don’t Do Negative Comedy Tour,” he tweeted, “Loving beyond words being on tour … I had no idea I did a 2 hr set tonight. I’m happily addicted again to this s***.”
Lyricist Marilyn Bergman (November 10, 1928-January 8, 2022), and her husband, Alan Bergman, were among the most enduring and successful songwriting partnerships. Their romantic ballads for movies, television and Broadway earned them three Oscars, four Emmys, and two Grammys.
They worked with such composers as Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand, John Williams, Henry Mancini, David Shire, Dave Grusin, Cy Coleman and Billy Goldenberg, and wrote hits for Frank Sinatra (“Nice ‘n’ Easy”) and Dean Martin (“Sleep Warm”).
Their greatest collaborations were with singer Barbra Streisand; they won the Academy Award for best original song for “The Way We Were” (with composer Marvin Hamlisch); and their song “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – first recorded by Neil Diamond and later covered by Streisand – became a duet, after radio station DJs began splicing together the two versions. Diamond and Streisand recorded a new version together, which went platinum.
The Bergmans also won Oscars for “The Windmills of Your Mind” (from “The Thomas Crown Affair”), and for the song score for Streisand’s “Yentl.”
Their TV theme songs included the sitcoms “Maude,” “Alice,” and “Good Times.” They also contributed lyrics to music in the films “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Happy Ending,” “Sometimes a Great Notion,” “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,” the 1976 “A Star Is Born,” “Best Friends,” “Tootsie,” “Yes, Giorgio,” “The Promise,” “Micki & Maude,” “For the Boys,” “Sabrina,” “Major League,” and “Shirley Valentine.”
The couple was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Marilyn became the first woman elected to ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), and later served as the chair and president. She was also the first chair of the Library of Congress’ National Recorded Sound Preservation Board.
In 2010 “Sunday Morning” correspondent Nancy Giles asked the Bergmans how they were able to combine working together with being married for more than half a century. Marilyn replied: “The way porcupines make love – carefully.”
In the summer of 1969 concert promoter Michael Lang (December 11, 1944-January 8, 2022), along with three partners, put together a festival billed as “three days of peace and music.” Roughly 400,000 people would show up at the small town of Bethel, N.Y., on land owned by farmer Max Yasgur, and endure mammoth traffic jams, rains, food shortages and overwhelmed restrooms to participate in the culture phenomenon that was known as Woodstock.
More than 30 acts performed on the concert’s main stage, from Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Carlos Santana, The Who, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, and Sly and the Family Stone, to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (playing their second-ever gig) and Jimi Hendrix. The epic festival, heralded as a peaceful celebration of community in the midst of a divisive war, was immortalized in an Oscar-winning documentary.
Lang (who also ran a label in the early ’70s, Just Sunshine Records, and managed such artists as Joe Cocker and Rickie Lee Jones) had organized the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, and would go on to produce, in 1994 and 1999, follow-ups of Woodstock, which had created the template, as it were, for later music festivals that even hoped to match its singular cultural impact. “We sort of set a precedent in a lot of those areas,” Lang told “CBS Evening News” in 2009, on the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock. “It was the beginning of the idea of music and social change, I think.”
The first Black Academy Award-winner for best actor, Sir Sidney Poitier (February 20, 1927-January 6, 2022) created a career filled with memorable characters who exhibited dignity, intelligence, and moral courage – particularly noteworthy given he did so in a Hollywood notorious for underserving Black artists and audiences.
Born in Miami to Bahamian parents, Poitier rose from a childhood of poverty to perform with the American Negro Theater in New York City, before breaking out as a film actor in the 1950 drama “No Way Out.” He starred in such classics as “The Blackboard Jungle,” “The Defiant Ones,” “Porgy and Bess,” “To Sir With Love,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and “In the Heat of the Night.” Poitier received a Tony Award nomination for the 1961 Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (he later starred in the film version).
In a life filled with firsts, he became the first Black man to win a best actor Oscar, for “Lilies of the Field” (1963), playing a handyman who helps a group of nuns in the Arizona desert construct a chapel. He was the first Black man to kiss a White woman in a movie (1965’s “A Patch of Blue”). With three hit films, including the Oscar-winner for best picture, Poitier was named by theater owners the No. 1 movie star of 1967 – the first time ever for a Black actor.
But he said his career choices were less about being “first” and more about the image of his characters. In a 2013 “Sunday Morning” profile Poitier told CBS News’ Lesley Stahl he would never play someone who was immoral or cruel: “If you go through my career package, you’ll find that I didn’t ever. I didn’t ever.”
He also directed nine features, including “Buck and the Preacher” (starring alongside Harry Belafonte), and the comedies “Uptown Saturday Night” (co-starring Bill Cosby and Flip Wilson), and “Stir Crazy” (directing Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder).
Later acting appearances on television brought him Emmy nominations, for portraying future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (in “Separate But Equal”) and Nelson Mandela (in “Mandela and de Klerk”). His 2000 autobiography, “The Measure of a Man,” was an Oprah Book Club selection.
He received a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2002. In 2009 President Barack Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying that the actor “not only entertained but enlightened … revealing the power of the silver screen to bring us closer together.”
Throughout his life he was adamant about representation on screen. Before signing on to play the role of Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia homicide detective who reluctantly helps a small town police chief in Mississippi solve a murder, in 1967’s “In the Heat of the Night,” Poitier asked for a major script change to one scene in which his character is slapped: “I said, ‘If he slaps me, I’m going to slap him back. You will put on paper that the studio agrees that the film will be shown nowhere in the world, with me standing there taking the slap from the man.'”
He had the slap written into his contract. “Yes, I knew that I would have been insulting every Black person in the world [if I hadn’t],” Poitier said.
One of a cohort of “New Hollywood” directors who came of age in the late 1960s and ’70s, Peter Bogdanovich (July 30, 1939-January 6, 2022) got an education in film early, taken at age 5 by his father to the Museum of Modern Art to watch Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies. From age 12 to 30, he saw nearly 4,000 films, which he documented and reviewed on index cards.
He would become a film journalist, documentary filmmaker and actor (studying under Stella Adler), and even work as a film programmer at MoMA. He engaged with the old guard of Hollywood: Howard Hawks, John Ford and Orson Welles, with whom he would later collaborate.
As a director, Bogdanovich earned praise for his early films, including the low-budget thriller “Targets” (produced by Roger Corman and starring an Old Hollywood stalwart, Boris Karloff), and his 1971 classic, “The Last Picture Show.” Adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, the black-and-white period piece about a small, dying rural Texas community earned eight Academy Award nominations and scored Oscars for actors Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson.
In a 2013 “Sunday Morning” interview, Ellen Burstyn revealed Bogdanovich’s direction of her performance in “Last Picture Show,” when her character realizes her daughter (played by Cybill Shepherd) has been sleeping with her lover. “I said, ‘Peter, I have eight different things to express here, and I don’t have a line.’ And he went, ‘I know!’ And I said, ‘How am I supposed to do that?’ And he said, ‘Just think the thoughts of the character, and the camera will read your mind.'”
Bogdanovich followed with “What’s Up, Doc?” a screwball comedy with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal; and “Paper Moon,” a Depression-Era comedy (also shot in black-and-white) starring Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal as a pair of con artists. Tatum, at age 10, became the youngest winner of an Oscar, for best supporting actress.
But Bogdanovich’s personal life also dramatically colored his work. His affair with Cybill Shepherd during the filming of “Last Picture Show” ended his marriage to producer and production designer Polly Platt, and his later films starring Shepherd – “Daisy Miller” and “At Long Last Love” – failed at the box office. His relationship with former Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, begun during the filming of the comedy “They All Laughed,” ended with her murder by her estranged husband – a tragedy that Bogdanovich wrote about in a book, “The Killing of the Unicorn.” [He would later marry Dorothy’s younger sister, Louise.]
Other films received mixed critical response, from the terrific Ben Gazzara drama “Saint Jack,” and the hit “Mask,” starring Cher, to “Texasville,” (a sequel to “Last Picture Show”), “Noises Off,” “The Thing Called Love,” “The Cat’s Meow,” and “She’s Funny That Way.”
He returned to acting, with turns as Dr. Melfi’s psychiatric colleague in “The Sopranos,” and in “Out of Order,” “While We’re Young,” and “It: Chapter Two.”
His friendship with Welles (who likewise came out of the gate as a wunderkind young director and faced increasing difficulties with his later projects) would lead him to take a role in Welles’ long-in-the-works drama “The Other Side of the Wind,” playing a protégé and fellow filmmaker opposite star John Huston. Parts of the film were even shot in Bogdanovich’s house in Bel Air. Begun in 1970, the film was unfinished at the time of Welles’ death, and remained in legal limbo for decades, until Bogdanovich and a production team rescued the negative, completed the film, and premiered it at Venice in 2018.
The movie was shot in the manner of a mockumentary before there were mockumentaries. “It’s funny, it seems very modern to me,” Bogdanovich told CBS News. “It seems like it was way ahead of its time. Even though the Seventies was kind of a free-for-all in terms of filmmaking, nobody quite made a film like this.”
After Welles’ death, Bogdanovich published a book of their interviews, “This Is Orson Welles,” in 1992.
In a 2002 interview with The AV Club, Bogdanovich decried the lack of interest or knowledge of film culture more than a few years old: “Younger people don’t seem to know anything about older films,” he said. “And it’s not just movie history that nobody knows. It’s regular history. America is a young country, I suppose, and maybe that’s the reason why there’s no tradition of tradition. … Yes, older films are available now, in a way that they never were before. And there’s less interest than ever. It’s just awful. It’s like ignoring buried treasure, but it’s not even buried. It’s right there. …
“You look at the average, well-made movie of the ’30s … well, not average, but the good movies of the ’30s: If you look at it today, you’ll see that those films were made for adults, but kids could see them. Whereas today, films are made for kids, and adults are expected to tolerate them. It’s a whole new world.”