Mobituaries with Mo Rocca

Mobituaries with Mo Rocca

Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries. In season 1 of Mobituaries he introduces listeners to the people who have long intrigued him—from the 20th century’s greatest entertainer … to the Civil Rights pioneer who is completely forgotten … to sitcom characters gone all too soon. Even if you know the names, you’ve never understood why they matter…until now. And if you enjoy these episodes, look for more stories of great lives worth reliving when Mobituaries returns for season 2 in fall 2019.... Show More

Episodes

March 24, 2020 16 min

For a few decades the station wagon was as central to the American Dream as the white picket fence and the basketball hoop in the driveway. It was the quintessential family car. And really, who didn’t want to ride in the “way back”? This special episode comes from the audiobook edition of MOBITUARIES. You can learn more here: http://bit.ly/MoAudio.

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February 7, 2020 55 min

Anna May Wong wasn't supposed to be in the movies. Her laundryman father was dead set against it. And Hollywood preferred white actors in "yellow face" for Asian characters. But Wong knew what she wanted. With her talent, beauty and tenacity, she ran a gauntlet of social and legal obstacles to become Hollywood's very first Chinese-American star. Mo talks with comedian Margaret Cho, actress Rosalind Chao and best-sel...

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January 17, 2020 29 min

In a Mobits first, Mo takes the show on the road! Mo shares his love of obituaries; investigates why we confuse certain dead celebrities; and interviews former New York Times obituary writer Margalit Fox about what it's like to write about the dead for a living. This episode was recorded in Asbury Park, NJ and Fairfield, CT.

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Fred Armisen joins Mo to pay tribute to legendary bandleader and TV host, Lawrence Welk. Welk was another victim of television's Rural Purge of the early 1970s, when his long running musical variety show was canceled by ABC after his audience was deemed too old. But Welk did not go quietly. He defied the critics, bringing his show back to life on his own terms - and reaching an even wider audience.

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December 21, 2019 2 min

In December of 1993, Laura Branigan called into Ernie Manouse's Chicago-based radio show and sang O Holy Night a capella. Technically the recording isn't perfect, but Laura's pitch is. And her spirit shines through. We thank Ernie, now an award-winning host with Houston Public Media, for allowing us to play it for you here. And we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday.

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Between 1854 and 1929, 250,000 orphans - at peril in the dangerous, overcrowded streets of New York - were placed on 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 bond between the riders lives on in their descendants, many of whom continue to search for answers about their ancestry. Mo talks to the daughter of a rider, plu...

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The St. Louis Blues hockey team had the worst record in the NHL in January 2019, before deciding to adopt the 1982 hit song Gloria as their anthem. They ended up winning the Stanley Cup. But many of their fans didn't even know that the woman who sang that song had died back in 2004. Mo talks to Laura Branigan's brother, her high school best friend, songwriter Diane Warren (who wrote her first hit song for Branigan) and atte...

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In the early 1970's, CBS axed its slate of hit country-themed sitcoms. The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction were just three of the shows that bought the farm. Mo talks to Linda Henning (star of Petticoat Junction), author Sara Eskridge and TV critic Alan Sepinwall about the sitcom slaughter.

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During the 1870s, more than a dozen African American men, many of whom had been born into slavery, were elected to the U.S. Congress. These political pioneers symbolized the sky high hopes of millions of former slaves during the years right after the Civil War. It was a period that ended all too quickly. But it happened. Mo talks to Professor Henry Louis Gates, Reconstruction historian Eric Foner, and a descendant of one of the leg...

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Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, the pamphlet that inspired the American Revolution. So why did only six people show up at his funeral? Mo finds out why this essential Founding Father has never gotten his due - and, with the help of a Tony nominated Broadway songwriting team and The Daily Show's Lewis Black, stages a rollicking memorial service for Paine on the spot where he dropped dead.

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November 5, 2019 13 min

Marlene Dietrich cemented her status as a Hollywood legend with a series of iconic performances that flouted traditional women's roles and ignited the screen. But it's her passionate support for the United States, her adopted homeland, and the troops fighting in World War II that led Hitler to label her a traitor to the "Fatherland." When she could have enjoyed the indulgences of fame, she risked everything. This sp...

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CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and humorist Mo Rocca returns with more stories about the people and things that have long fascinated him and, yes, they’re all still dead. From the unruly presidential brother with his own beer to a 1980’s pop song that brought glory to a 2019 sports team, here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from the new season of Mobituaries.

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March 8, 2019 47 min
The legendary rivalry between college football powerhouses Auburn and University of Alabama turned ugly with the 2011 poisoning of two beloved oak trees on Auburn's campus. Mo explores the history behind the rivalry and the line between fandom and fanaticism.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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February 28, 2019 35 min
Many of us have seen pictures of the original "Siamese Twins" Chang and Eng. But their story is so much more than a medical case study. Mo travels to Mount Airy, North Carolina - the inspiration for Andy Griffith's Mayberry and the real life home of the conjoined twins - to join the many descendants of Chang and Eng for their annual family reunion.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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February 21, 2019 37 min
Mo welcomes his friend Michael Ian Black – comedian, author, podcaster, and, as it turns out, Neanderthal (we’ll explain). Mo talks to Michael and the world’s leading researchers about why our extinct human cousins Neanderthals have gotten such a bad rap for so many many years, and how we’re learning more about how close we really were. Oh, Mo also talks to the guy who played Cha-ka on the 70s kids show Land of the Lost.Learn more ...
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February 15, 2019 49 min
From the age of three Sammy Davis, Jr. did it all better than anyone else - singing, dancing, acting, even gun spinning. Mo talks to friends and family about what drove him to keep performing, even after the car crash that nearly killed him. Featuring Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, Kim Novak, Dionne Warwick and more.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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February 7, 2019 37 min
There were other stars as big as Audrey Hepburn, some even bigger. (Ahem, Katharine Hepburn?) So why is it that more than 25 years after her death her image still captivates us and her name trends regularly on social media? Mo explores why the attachment to Audrey is still so personal for so many people.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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January 31, 2019 42 min
Mo tells the stories of three remarkable people who changed history - but whose names you've probably never heard. They are the pioneers before the pioneers. Before Rosa Parks, there was Elizabeth Jennings. Before Jackie Robinson, there was Moses Fleetwood Walker. And then there's Lois Weber, the woman who ruled Hollywood 100 years ago.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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January 24, 2019 39 min
Characters on sitcoms aren't supposed to die. So when they do, it's never less than weird. Mo examines some of the most infamous sitcom deaths and disappearances with Henry Winkler, Sandy Duncan and Alan Sepinwall.Learn more about the Mobituaries book: http://bit.ly/MobituariesBook
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For one brief shining moment in the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy impersonator Vaughn Meader was on top of the world. He was the voice of the hit comedy album "The First Family" which broke sales records and even won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Meader's impression also stirred up controversy, forcing White House advisers to grapple with the impact of political mimicry. In this episode Mo Rocca explores the story of...
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