It was 60 years ago that child prodigy Lorin Maazel first conducted the New York Philharmonic. He was only 12 at the time. (Arturo Toscanini had invited him to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra when he was 7!) Now, at age 72, 60 years after his debut with the august New York Philharmonic, Maazel is back. This week he mounted the podium to open the symphony's latest season, conducting Beethoven's "Leonore Overture No. 3" and the daunting "Ninth Symphony." The choice of Maazel as the orchestra's latest music director came as a surprise to many. The big money was on several others. But Maazel is being hailed as a great choice. As a conductor, according to MSNBC, he wields his baton as if it were a sword. He swaggers and is trim and fit at 72. His choice of the two rousing works by Beethoven would seem to show that he is not only in touch with the Big Apple, but with the American psyche in general. At a time when many other symphony orchestras are foundering, Maazel is bringing a new excitement to NYC and likely a new financial drawing card.
A SPECIAL AWARD FOR RONNIE MILSAP
Entertainer Ronnie Milsap -- one of the most successful recording stars in the history of country music -- has been named to receive this year's Helen Keller Achievement Award. The honor is given out by the American Foundation for the Blind. Milsap will receive the accolade on Sept. 24 at ceremonies in New York City. CMT says that the award "acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals who are role models or who improve the quality of life for the blind and the visually impaired." It was not that many months ago that Milsap received the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award in recognition of his contributions to country music. The host for the NYC event will be singer Judy Collins. In addition to his songwriting and touring, Milsap is also active in a variety of charitable causes. He's also an aficionado of "Old Time Radio" and is host of a broadcast on the YesterdayUSA Networks featuring shows such as "Lum and Abner" and "Dragnet." During his career, he has sold over 43 million records and scored an astonishing 40 No. 1 hits.
FAREWELL TO THE FORMER 'FASTEST MAN ALIVE'
What sprinter Bob Hayes did during the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo will always be remembered in the annals of sports. His was a true success story. He was an Olympic gold medal-winning track star and later a standout receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Now, according to ESPN, Hayes has died of kidney failure in a Florida hospital. During the 1964 Summer Games in Japan he won the gold in the 100 meters. What is extraordinary is that he had to tie the world record of 10.05 seconds to get the gold. But it was during the run of the 400-meter relay that he made sports history. He was anchoring that run. He helped the four-man American team win the gold in a record-breaking 39.06 seconds. During that relay Hayes ran his leg in a mind-boggling 8.6 seconds -- a feat that was heralded as one of the biggest moments in sport. He was a seventh-round draft choice for the NFL in 1964. Bob Hayes was only 59.
PEPINO OF 'McCOY'S' FAME DIES IN VEGAS
Before becoming nationally known as Pepino Garcia, the hired hand on the Walter Brennan-Richard Crenna vehicle "The Real McCoys," Tony Martinez had already made a mark for himself in the world of music. Before his stint in the 1957-'63 sitcom, he had become a national Hispanic pop star. With his band he propelled "Solo y Triste" (Sad and Lonely) onto the Spanish-language charts. Other hits included "Cuero," "Mambo Capri" and "Bacalo Con Papa." He also wrote songs for others. The Bill Haley and the Comets' hit "Mambo Rock" was one of his compositions. But it was his portrayal of the loyal farm hand on the much-loved TV show that made him a national, mainstream star. In addition to his work in "The Real McCoys" -- the Irving Pinkus-produced series that is remembered as one of the greatest of all TV sitcoms -- Martinez appeared in half a dozen minor movies. His last role was in a reunion show of the McCoys, aired in 2000. Now comes word that Martinez, a native of Puerto Rico, has died in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal says he spent his final days in a local hospice.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S SPEECH SITE TO BE COMMEMORATED
You would have thought that in the decades since the late Martin Luther King Jr. gave his immortal "I Have a Dream" speech that some group would have remembered the spot where he stood with a plaque or marker. Well, after all these years of oversight, a group finally is. The Washington Times says that the Washington Commission on Fine Arts has OK'd the placement of a plaque on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where King stood on Aug. 28, 1963. The National Capital Planning Commission, which would have to approve the plaque because it would be on the steps of an existing monument, is in agreement with the project. According to published reports, the impetus behind the placement of the plaque were the efforts of a member of Congress who had been told by a constituent that he was surprised, while visiting the Lincoln Memorial, that there was no commemorative marker. Additionally, there are plans to built a monument to the slain civil rights leader not far away on the banks of the Tidal Basin.
KENNY ROGERS ... NOVELIST!
Popular entertainer Kenny Rogers is not only a singer-songwriter-actor, but he is also an author. According to the news provider country.com, Rogers and screenwriter Donald Davenport are about to publish a holiday-themed novel, "Christmas in Canaan." The book is due out sometime next month. The scenario for the book is the friendship that develops between a poor white farm boy and a brilliant young black boy during the early 1960s in rural Texas. This is not the first time that Rogers has entered into the world of novel writing. He has also written two children's books, "Kenny Rogers Presents: The Greatest" and "The Toy Shoppe."
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 420
Today we're repeating a question asked in the early days of this survey. It got a wonderful response back then, so let's try it again: "What was the worst car or truck you ever owned?" Put LEMON in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 415 (FORUM)
Last week we opened the mailbox to any comment (that was printable). From a random sampling, here are some of your replies: RB brings up a topic that is near and dear to my heart ... do people really like daylight saving time? (By the way, RB and others, there is no "s" at the end of "saving.") She wonders if it would be better to stay on daylight time during the winter in order to increase the amount of light in the evening. LI has a comment that is indeed a sad one. She says she was robbed of $6,000 in jewelry recently. BW bemoans the fact that people won't engage in casual conversation anymore. He notes, "If you're in line at the bank and DARE try to talk to anyone else in line, they think you're nuts or something." (Bob, just imagine how horrible the situation is to someone such as myself who can't stay quiet.) Finally, thanks again for the many letters asking that I return "GBA" to the bottom of this column. NEXT: Some thoughts on tenure. GBA.