In Memoriam

charles schulz cartoonist Peanuts creator comic strip artist dead at 77 Feb. 13, 2000
When the newly elected members of the U.S. Senate assembled on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago for the traditional freshmen orientation, the biggest and brightest spotlight was on Hillary Clinton, the only first lady ever elected to public office.

But it was another woman – the senator-elect from Missouri – who made the most memorable impression with a poignant remark about the circumstances that brought her to Washington.

"Everyone else is here because of their win," said Jean Caranhan. "I'm here because of my loss."

She was referring, of course, to her late husband, Mel, who was killed in an October plane crash while campaigning for the Senate seat he went on to win posthumously. In the aftermath of that victory, Jean Carnahan was appointed to serve in that seat.

Mel Carnahan's death was not the only one to cast a shadow over the Capitol in 2000. In July, Republican Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia – a close friend and trusted ally of Majority Leader Trent Lott – succumbed to a stroke.

Congress also bid farewell to one of its esteemed elder statesmen, Carl Albert, who served as Speaker of the House in the early 1970s. A man of moderate views who was respected by Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats, the diminutive Oklahoman was known affectionately as "the little giant from Little Dixie."

Another political giant from that same era was Pierre Trudeau, regarded by many as the most influential prime minister in Canadian history. He, too, died in 2000. Riding to power on a wave of charisma in 1968, the flamboyant Trudeau served as Canada's leader for most of the next 16 years.

Roman Catholics in New York City and its environs mourned the passing of their spiritual leader, Cardinal John O'Connor, whose flock of admirers extended well beyond the borders of his archdiocese.

And veterans of the civil rights movement said goodbye to one of their most combative leaders. Hosea Williams was a top lieutenant in the army of crusaders Martin Luther King Jr. led across the South in the 1960s.

Two of Britain's most distinguished actors took their final curtain calls in 2000. Sir John Gielgud was often hailed as the greatest Shakespearean actor of his time. And no actor was more versatile than the sly and subtle Alec Guiness, who proved to be as gifted in powerful dramas as he had been in the wry comedies that first made him an international star.

America also lost one of its most talented comic actors. With his slouching gait and basset-hound face, Walter Matthau had the rumpled look of an unmade bed, and that was the disheveled manner he brought to so many of his roles – most notably when he played Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple.

Two glamour queens from the goldeage of Hollywood – the sultry and seductive Hedy Lamarr and the more wholesome Loretta Young – passed away in 2000. So did Gwen Verdon, the sexy redhead who danced her way to stardom in Damn Yankees and other Broadway musicals.

The Broadway theater also lost two of its most creative and prolific producers, David Merrick and Alexander H. Cohen.

And let's not forget that modern Renaissance man – Steve Allen – who, as the pioneering host of The Tonight Show in the 1950s, was one of television's first big stars. But he was far more than a performer. Along with other achievements, the multi-talented Allen wrote dozens of books and thousands of songs.

Sports fans of one stripe or another took time out to pay tribute to some of their heroes from earlier eras who left us in 2000.

One of them was Tom Landry, the legendary coach who led the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowls. It was during Landry's long reign in Dallas that the Cowboys acquired a national following and became known as America's Team.

Another was Bob Lemon, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians who won 20 games or more seven times in a span of nine years. His clutch pitching helped the Indians win pennants in 1948 and 1954.

Still another was Don Budge, the greatest tennis star of his time. In 1938, Budge swept all four major tournaments to become the first player to win the Grand Slam.

And here within our own domain, we eulogized three distinguished members of our extended family, each of whom left an enduring imprint on the history of CBS News.

Newscaster Robert Trout was one of the early giants of broadcast journalism. In particular, his gift for crisp and cogent ad libbing while covering live events set a standard that has never been surpassed.

No less a pioneer was Sig Mickelson, the news executive who coined the term "anchorman" in 1952 to describe the job he had in mind for Walter Cronkite at that year's political conventions. It was that assignment that transformed Cronkite into a national television star.

Then there was Robert "Shad" Northshield, the inventive producer who created the offbeat news program Sunday Morning and nurtured it through its first few years on the air. Among other things, the blaring trumpet that summons viewers to the broadcast every Sunday was his idea.

Shifting to a much larger scale, there's no doubt that to millions of Peanuts fans, the passing of Charles M. Schulz was almost like a death in the family.

The lovable figures he created – Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, et al – were more than mere cartoon characters. To many of us, they bore an uncanny resmblance to the kids and pets of friends who lived down the block or just around the corner.

Their antics and pranks took place in a universal neighborhood most of us shared, regardless of where we actually lived.

And so, in bidding farewell to the artist who dreamed these charming little people into existence, we find comfort and joy in the phrase that was so often said about his central creation: "You're a good man, Charlie Shultz."