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Prime Time: Marilyn Heltzer: Remembering the headliners beloved from a distance

Steve Jobs. Nora Ephron, Marvin Hamlisch, Andy Williams.

All of them have left this earth. The death of each was noted in major newspapers and on TV news programs. All touched my life from a distance, from the heights of fame that they achieved.

Strangely enough, I mourned each of them.

It wasn’t the same as mourning others who have been close, oh so close, to my life. Parents. My husband. Aunts and uncles, Teachers of great kindness and wisdom. Pastors and others who have guided my spiritual journey. I’ll never forget the women who passed on recipes and the men who told funny jokes. I won’t forget all who shared their wisdom with me in so many ways.

Each human being who touched my life is important, and none of the deaths of these ordinary people made headlines.

But Steve, Nora, Marvin, and Andy did make headlines. Each did touch my life, and I felt badly about their deaths.

Steve was the Apple guy who helped to revolutionize the way we live in the 21st century. I have an iPod and am seriously thinking of getting an iPad. But much of the wonderful world of technology remains a mystery to me. Maybe an iPad is in my future. Maybe not. But there was Steve, using the ordinary names of Apple and Macintosh and even though his world was far beyond mine, I felt bad when he died a year ago at age 56. He had pancreatic cancer. What a loss.

Dear, dear Nora. She died last June. Ephron was a screen writer whose movies included “When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail”. All were my favorites. One of the books I downloaded onto my Nook was “I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections”. I re-read it the other day and laughed out loud, like I did the first time. Nora had our number. “I Feel Bad About My Neck” is a gem of a book of essays that every aging woman understands. Another accomplishment was turning the demise of her marriage to Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post investigate reporter into a funny-sad book and movie, “Heartburn”. Nora was only 71 when she died.

Marvin Hamlisch died in August. He was a composer and conductor. I mourned Marvin’s passing because he brightened my life with music, including music from one of my favorite movies, “The Way We Were.” I remember walking out of the theater humming “Memories,” and so admiring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, both of whom still walk the earth.

And oh, “A Chorus Line!” I saw it both on stage and then the movie and while the lyrics to “One Singular Sensation” escape me, the high kicks and boisterous music will always be with me. Marvin was only 68 when he died.

Andy Williams left the earth just a few weeks ago, at age 84. Andy was born in Iowa, began singing with his brothers in the local Presbyterian church and died in Branson, Mo. I Googled Andy to find out more about him. Despite the fact that his career took him across the country and beyond, I like to think of Andy Williams as a Midwesterner. We all knew Andy from his TV shows, and we can all sing “Moon River,” but Andy sang it so much better.

The older I get, the more history I’ve lived through, and the more folks I remember fondly. Don’t ask me about anybody in People magazine. I pick up a copy in a waiting room at the car place while I get an oil change, or at the doctor’s office and most of the people pictured are a mystery to me. But Steve, Nora, Marvin and Andy. I remember each, and marked their passing with sadness and gratitude.