'Hail And Farewell': A Tribute To Those We Lost In 2023

To all of them we bid a very fond "Hail and Farewell."

Sunday, December 31st 2023, 4:12 pm

By: CBS News


For all the glories of the season as we bid farewell to 2023, there are a lot of tears, too. Human suffering around the world – from Israel, to Gaza, to Ukraine and beyond – will sadly be how we start 2024 as well.

But we find hope in those who left us comfort in the best way they knew how – some with song, like Burt Bacharach, whom we lost at 94. "Why are these songs rediscovered and why are people still singing them?" he said in 2002. "Because, I guess, they have durability. They have class. They have some sophistication.

He even made cloudy skies seem a little less gray.

Jimmy Buffett never seemed to worry about anything. He melted our cares like the salt on the rim of a margarita.

In 1986 Buffett admitted, "I got into it years ago just to have fun and to meet girls, for no other reason. I was supposed to have been a lawyer. So, I'm glad I didn't pursue that!"

What a laid-back lawyer he would have been! Buffett kept our feet in the sand until the age of 76.

  1. Remembering Jimmy Buffett, who spent his life putting joy into the world ("Sunday Morning")
  2. "A poet of paradise": Tributes pour in following the death of Jimmy Buffett
  3. From 1992: Jimmy Buffett and the "Parrotheads" ("Sunday Morning")
  4. From 2018: Jimmy Buffett comes to Broadway ("Sunday Morning")


Our politics today could use a couple of stiff shots of satirist Mark Russell. Our elected officials were still tapping their toes before they realized they'd been skewered. He once told the crowd, "Do they ever get offended? God, I hope so!"

Speaking of offending, Norman Lear's character Archie Bunker was the undisputed king of it.

Henry Jefferson: "And who said Santa Claus was white?"

Archie Bunker: "Come on, now, I had the same argument with you about Jesus!"

Lear told "Sunday Morning" in 2021, "There's nothing that unites people more, or better, than laughter."

His shows, from "All in the Family" to "The Jeffersons," made us laugh at ourselves and our times. Lear was 101.

  1. Remembering Norman Lear: "The soundtrack of my life has been laughter" ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From the archives: Norman Lear on the power of laughter (YouTube Video)
  3. From 2021: What makes Norman Lear, at 98, still tick? ("Sunday Morning")
  4. From 2016: Golden boys ("Sunday Morning")

The Smothers Brothers had their style of social commentary too, especially Tommy Smothers, who went to battle against this very network over censoring his jokes.

Talking to "Sunday Morning" in 2022 about the political humor that led to their cancellation in 1970, Tom Smothers said, "There was never premeditation or anything we ever did. We never did it to get attention. We just did it. And if it got attention, I said, 'I'll do it again. Maybe we'll get some more attention.'"

Tom Smothers, the older half of the pioneering duo, left us laughing until he was 86.

  1. From 2022: The Smothers Brothers are back, taking their show on the road ("Sunday Morning")

It was such a fascinating era for television, and for music, when the sweet sounds of Crosby, Stills and Nash were born. David Crosby had a way of putting social angst into lyrics that have stood the test of time. He said in 2007, "One of the good things about being a singer-songwriter is you get to leave a legacy, and I feel like I'm going to leave a good one."

He left us at 81.

  1. Passage: Remembering David Crosby ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From 2021: David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash speak ("Sunday Morning")
  3. From 2008: The life and wild times of David Crosby ("Sunday Morning")

Crosby provided the soundtrack for a generation that saw so much change, especially for women.

Dianne Feinstein became the first female mayor of San Francisco in 1978, and she went on to become our longest-serving female Senator.

In 1982 Feinstein said, "People still don't conceive of women in an executive capacity having really to work very hard. And therefore, there are a lot of demands that I think are put on me because I'm a woman, not necessarily because I'm a mayor."

She was a fixture in Washington, bringing change one vote at a time … just as Sandra Day O'Connor did as the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She answered the nation's most vexing Constitutional questions with steady determination and confidence.

In a 2006 interview O'Connor said, "My policy was not to look back and try to second-guess it and say, 'Oh, did I do the right thing? Should we have done something else?' That's a tough way to live, and I didn't want to live that way. So, I put the effort in up-front, made a decision, and then went forward."

At the White House, first lady Rosalynn Carter fought for those so often overlooked by government. But she also had a hand in the business of global peace. She said in 1980, "I have never asked anybody for help and been turned down."

It was she who suggested inviting Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David, where the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was hammered out.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, under President Richard Nixon, helped pave the way for that agreement. His style of diplomacy wasn't always agreeable, however – when it came to Vietnam, at first he wanted to escalate it, but then later tried to end it.

Historians are still sorting it all out. Kissinger himself told "Sunday Morning" in 2011, "You shouldn't ask the people who were active to define what their legacy is – they tend to exaggerate!"

  1. From 2011: Henry Kissinger on China, Nixon and OBL ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From 2023: Henry Kissinger at 100 ("Sunday Morning")

There is no exaggerating what some other men did for this country.

Kenn Potts dove into the burning waters of Pearl Harbor to save his fellow sailors.

Richard Barancik risked his life to rescue art stolen by the Nazis.

And Ben Ferencz took on the moral imperative of prosecuting the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials.

Ferencz told "60 Minutes" in 2017, "War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars. And all decent people."

  1. What the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive wants the world to know ("60 Minutes")

War, huh, yeah

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing

Say it again, y'all

With his 1969 Motown song "War," recorded by Edwin Starr, songwriter Barrett Strong summed up the frustrations many had about the war – and those lyrics could just as easily apply to those fighting a war of a different kind, a racial one.

Jim Brown, one of the best in the NFL, was also a passionate voice for social activism. "Yes, there is racism in the NFL. No doubt about it," he said in 1986. "You must reach out and be conscious in bringing in other people, and whenever we reach out in our society, people prove to be up to par, up to standard, or even superior."

He left the NFL for a career in acting ("The Dirty Dozen," "Ice Station Zebra"). His personal life was troubled, but he wanted to use his celebrity for change, just as others were doing.

Harry Belafonte was a humanitarian first, a singer second. Although "The Banana Boat Song" made him famous on stage and screen, his passion was righting the world's wrongs.

His platform only grew once he got into the movies - and on Broadway.

  1. From 2012: Harry Belafonte's journey to the top ("Sunday Morning")

But as the song goes, Broadway can often be a merciless place. Songwriter Cynthia Weil, along with her collaborator-husband Barry Mann, gave voice to all those trying so hard to make it on the Great White Way.

"That's what songwriters live for," Weil told "Sunday Morning" in 2015, "knowing that they've touched someone and helped them in some way."

Weil and Mann become pop sensations with hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," a song we'll never stop lovin'. Cynthia Weil took wing this year at 82.

  1. From 2015: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil still have that lovin' feelin' ("Sunday Morning")

There were so many in the movies we lost, like Ryan O'Neal, who will forever be remembered for his role alongside Ali MacGraw in "Love Story." He called the blockbuster romantic tragedy "movie magic."

  1. Remembering Ryan O'Neal ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From 2021: Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal on filming "Love Story" ("Sunday Morning")

For actor Michael Gambon, there was a bit of sorcery at work, too. He embodied Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster at Hogwarts, who, it always seemed, had wisdom to spare.

To all those who cast their spell on the big screen – you will be missed:

Raquel Welch, "One Million Years B.C."

Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"

  1. From 2007: Alan Arkin: The reluctant star ("Sunday Morning")

Ricou Browning, "Creature from the Black Lagoon"

Richard Roundtree, "Shaft"

Melinda Dillon, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "A Christmas Story"

Topol, "Fiddler on the Roof"

Stella Stevens, "The Nutty Professor"

Michael Lerner, "Barton Fink"

On the small screen we had our share of notable departures, too.

Talk shows were never the same after Jerry Springer – high-brow, it wasn't. But that, in Springer's view, didn't make it trash TV, either. He once stated, "Look, television does not and must not create values. It's merely a picture of all that's out there – the good, the bad, the ugly."

"The Price Is Right" was a different stop on the daytime dial, and for nearly four decades Bob Barker was at the helm. He said in 1985, "What really gives the show its personality are the people. They are the main ingredient of the show. And what I can help them to put across on television, I think, is what makes our show entertaining."

Not only do those who won the Showcase Showdowns have him to thank – so do pets everywhere. Bob Barker was 99.

  1. From 2008: "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker ("Sunday Morning")

Remember when TV was more of an escape, a little less reality?

As Shirley Feeney on "Laverne & Shirley," Cindy Williams played the roommate we'd all like to have. She did it her way, and for that, we're certainly thankful.

But when it came to roommates, there was nothing like "Friends," with a cast that became real friends themselves. Which is what made the passing of Matthew Perry so hard.

He had his demons, but was always committed to helping others who were struggling as well. A friend to the end, Perry was just 54.

To all those TV faces so familiar to us, we offer a humble thank you:

Suzanne Somers, "Three's Company"

David McCallum, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "N.C.I.S."

Mark Margolis, "Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul"

Barbara Bosson, "Hill Street Blues"

Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman)

Producer Marty Krofft, "H.R. Pufnstuf"

Richard Belzer, "Law & Order"

Andre Braugher, "Brooklyn Nine Nine"

Mark Goddard, "Lost in Space"

George Maharis, "Route 66"

Barry Humphries (Dame Edna)

  1. From 2010: Dame Edna: She's more famous than you ("Sunday Morning")

Lisa Loring, "The Addams Family"

Frances Sternhagen, "Cheers"

There's a certain emptiness without their humor, and their love.

How do you sum up the talent that was Tina Turner – a performer with endless energy who often sang about her personal struggles, and sadly, there were plenty. The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll was indeed better than all the rest. She left us at 83.

  1. Tina Turner: An appreciation of the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll" ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From 2018: Tina Turner on her voice, finding serenity and losing a son ("Sunday Morning")

We lost another provocative singer: Sinéad O'Connor, who never minced word or deeds.

Steve Harwell, the mouth behind Smashmouth, left us at only 56. He was an all-star through and through.

To all those musicians with songs in their hearts, our lives have been better for your gift:

DJ Casper, "Cha Cha Slide"

Lisa Marie Presley, "Lights Out"

Pianist André Watts

"Sugar Man" singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez

Rudolph Isley, The Isley Brothers

Gordon Lightfoot, "Sundown," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Drummer Fred White, Earth, Wind & Fire

From some 238,000 miles away, our home in the universe was captured in a photo from Apollo 8, the first human spaceflight to orbit the Moon, commanded by Frank Borman. He left us at 96.

Marilyn Lovell watched her husband, Jim Lovell, go to space four times, never knowing if he'd come back. He always did. Now she's in the stars, and he's the one looking up. Marilyn Lovell was 93.

The death of friends, loved ones, those we admire, those we knew (and even those we didn't), they affected us all. And young or old, losing Tony Bennett hit hard.

As he explained in 1989, "You hear a song, you say, 'God, it just gets you. You just get that tingle down your spine, and you feel, not only do I love it, but I think the audience is going to love this.'"

Tony Bennett sings "I Left My Heart in San Francisco":

He did what he did, the way he did it, with style, class and grace – and he did it for decades. He was as timeless as the songs he sang, the gold standard of crooners everywhere.

  1. The one and only Tony Bennett ("Sunday Morning")
  2. From 2014: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: A musical love supreme ("Sunday Morning")
  3. From 2003: Tony Bennett's art of friendship ("Sunday Morning")

We can't remember them all, but our hearts are left wanting more from so many. For their talents, their ethics, their passions, we are forever grateful. 

To all of them we bid a very fond "Hail and Farewell."

Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Steven Tyler. 

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