(Dec. 9, 1930 — Jan. 8, 2020) Although Buck Henry was cocreator of the original Get Smart TV series (1965-70), nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay of The Graduate (1967) and a frequent early host of Saturday Night Live between 1975 and 1979, perhaps his most public legacy was as the man who miffed the almost-unflappable Walter Cronkite. Sixty years ago, before Borat and fake news, Henry helped perpetuate a more-than-three-year hoax as “president” of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, which landed him on NBC’s Today show twice and Cronkite’s CBS Evening News. As prudish G. Clifford Prout Jr., Henry pleaded with viewers to join his national crusade to clothe all animals — because “a nude horse is a rude horse.” Only when CBS staff recognized Henry during the Aug. 21, 1962, broadcast was the hoax exposed. Born Henry Zuckerman, he acquired the nickname Buck as a child. In his Hollywood career, Henry was responsible for writing the “plastics” advice given to a young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, received an Oscar nomination for codirecting Heaven Can Wait (1978) and hosted 10 episodes in Saturday Night Live’s first five seasons. Most recently, Henry had roles as Tina Fey’s father in the NBC sitcom 30 Rock — on the same network where he had started his comedy career.
PHOTO BY: Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images
David Stern, NBA commissioner, 77
(Sept. 22, 1942 — Jan. 1, 2020) Longtime NBA commissioner David Stern is credited with taking a lackluster league and turning it into a multibillion-dollar global sports phenomenon. Because of his ability to put bodies in the seats at arenas throughout the United States and the world, Stern transformed the NBA into a mega enterprise through a series of marketing coups, including bringing in millions of dollars from the sale of clothing, videos and other branded products. Stern not only added seven new franchises to the league during his 30-year tenure, but he also created the WNBA in 1997 and once said that one of his most cherished memories was seeing the 1992 Dream Team win Olympic gold. In addition, he instituted the draft lottery, which became a huge televised media event. Stern’s tenure was not without strife and controversy, though: He oversaw two work stoppages by the National Basketball Players Association and had a reputation as a tough, relentless negotiator.