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DAVID BRINKLEY ICON, ICONOCLAST
On television David Brinkley was medium cool, a reserved man with a well-advertised wry style, but off the air he had a broad mischievous streak. He liked poker, shooting pool, betting the ponies, practical jokes and small, elegant dinner parties heavy on gossip and one-liners. Around the office, David, an icon who was iconoclastic, had a special affection for the staff rogues, like a production assistant who was fearless in her needling comments on self-important network executives. But it was his manner on air that endeared him to generations of viewers. I learned so much from just watching him on long election nights or during political conventions and national crises. Television is a visual medium of fleeting images, and David used words with great precision to complement those images, not simply to provide captions. The day after Robert F. Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles, a hearse and a motorcade carrying Kennedy family members made their way to the airport. David let that somber scene play out silently for a few moments and then said, as I remember, "For the second time in less than five years, a Kennedy widow is in a car behind her husband's body, headed for an airport in a Western city, for the long trip home so the national mourning may begin." --By Tom Brokaw
"I am not a racially conscious person. I don't want to be... I'm a tennis player, not a Negro tennis player."
African-American Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis champion, in her autobiography, I Always Wanted to Be Somebody
IDI AMIN A MODEL DESPOT
He was not just Uganda's President for Life. He was, Idi Amin insisted, also the King of Scotland and the Conqueror of the British Empire. To many who heard his inane pronouncements on television and watched him dance buffoonishly in the streets even as he dismantled his nation's economy, the 300-lb., 6-ft. 4-in. dictator seemed more like Africa's leading clown. But to those who endured his tyranny for eight years in the 1970s, he seemed a nightmare that had lasted too long.
"Indeed, he is a clown when he chooses," his onetime Attorney General once noted. "Face to face, he is relaxed, simple and charming. But this is no more than a facade ... He kills rationally and coolly." To slake his thirst for absolute power and soothe a driving paranoia, Amin oversaw the murder of perhaps 500,000 Ugandans at the hands of torturers and executioners. His example was one of the most extreme, but hardly unique in the annals of 20th century despotism. Yet after being ousted in 1979, Amin, unlike Iraq's captured dictator, was allowed to spend his remaining years in comfortable exile, finally fading into a coma and dying unpunished--and unrepentant to the last. --By Unmesh Kher
"He is U.S. cinema's first male idol to resist typing: the first to devote himself successfully to the art of acting."
TIME cover story on the film star, 1948
"I know my voice sounds like I've got two fingers up my nose. But I've gotten over saying to myself, If I was only Robert Redford."
The TV comedy star, to a Washington Post writer, 1977