Mobituaries with Mo Rocca

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!

Episodes

January 3, 2024 44 mins

Long before her turn as the sermonizing Aunt Esther on "Sanford and Son," LaWanda Page was dazzling Black nightclub audiences - first as the flame-swallowing “Bronze Goddess of Fire”. Then, following in the footsteps of her childhood friend and eventual costar Redd Foxx, she became a queen of raunchy, tell-it-like-it-is stand up comedy. (Let’s just say Aunt Esther would not have approved of LaWanda’s act.) In this season 4 finale, ...

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Between 1854 and 1929, 250,000 orphans and abandoned children were placed on East Coast city trains and sent west to live with new families. A desperate solution to a desperate problem, some of the stories turned out well and some far from well. The remarkable stories of these riders live on through their descendants, many of whom continue to search for answers about their ancestry. Mo talks to one of these descendants and tracks d...

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There’s no shortage of sports teams that change cities or names over the course of their franchise history. But what about the teams that just cease to exist? Perhaps no team story packs more drama into one year of existence than that of Los Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo. It’s a story that combines one of the most celebrated names in baseball history with one of the biggest names in twentieth-century dictatorship. This special episod...

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December 13, 2023 43 mins

If you were a kid watching TV in the 1980s and 1990s, you probably saw a fair number of “Very Special Episodes,” when the usual blissful bubble of the sitcom world was punctured by real-world issues for a half-hour. Drugs, drinking and driving, stranger danger, even AIDS. But never fear, all would be resolved by episode’s end. (Sometimes the material was so heavy, it required a two-parter.) So why did such a mainstay for a generati...

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Starting in the early 1970s, Norman Lear changed the face of television, fusing comedy with social commentary. Lear died on December 5th at the great old age of 101. Mo revisits their 2015 conversation for CBS Sunday Morning.

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December 6, 2023 49 mins

For centuries European royals married only each other. It was believed to be the best way of consolidating power. But rampant royal inbreeding had increasingly negative consequences––including genetic abnormalities (like the protuberant “Habsburg Jaw”), the dying off of whole lines, and eventually serious geopolitical instability that culminated in World War I. Mo and Barnard College professor and bestselling author Caroline Weber ...

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November 29, 2023 50 mins

“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 ...

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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 H...

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November 8, 2023 40 mins

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.

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November 1, 2023 41 mins

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 ...

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October 25, 2023 48 mins

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 Hollywoo...

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October 18, 2023 47 mins

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 ...

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October 11, 2023 45 mins

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...

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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 dy...

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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 c...

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February 15, 2023 49 mins

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 d...

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February 8, 2023 41 mins

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 betray...

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February 1, 2023 40 mins

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 o...

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January 25, 2023 53 mins

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 shar...

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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...

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