The Podcast

CBS News correspondent Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries. Each episode of Mobituaries covers his favorite dearly departed people and things, from the 'Latin Lover' who redefined Hollywood masculinity in the 1920s to the TV dog who introduced kids to literature in the 1990s. Every Wednesday, hear fresh takes on famous legacies and uncover people worthy of their overdue moment in the spotlight. Even if you know the names, you’ve never understood why they matter until now!

Season 3

Timothy Scott: Death of a Dancer

When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original Broadway production of the musical Cats premiered in 1982, a young dancer named Timothy Scott was just entering his prime. Cast in the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, he left audiences (including a young Mo) spellbound with an acrobatic dancing that seemed to defy physics. But before the end of the […]

Benedict Arnold: Before They Went Bad

Before his name became synonymous with treason, Benedict Arnold was a bonafide hero of the American Revolutionary War. At critical moments Arnold inspired the Patriots with his grit and determination and earned the admiration of George Washington. Despite his popularity and battlefield prowess, Benedict Arnold eventually broke bad. Mo talks with author Nathaniel Philbrick about […]

The Gros Michel: Death of a Banana

The banana we eat today is not the same kind our grandparents grew up eating. Today’s variety, called the Cavendish, is generally regarded as the bland successor to the richer tasting Gros Michel (French for “Big Mike”) of yesteryear. But when a deadly fungus ravaged the Gros Michel in the mid-20th century, the banana barons […]

Samantha Smith: Death of a Peacemaker

At one of the most dangerous moments in the Cold War, an ordinary 5th grade girl from Maine wrote to the leader of the Soviet Union with a simple plea for peace. When he wrote back with an invitation to visit the Soviet Union in the summer of 1982, it became an international news story […]

Second Place Finishers: Larry Doby, Judith Resnik & The Dave Clark Five

We love historical “Firsts” so much that we end up ignoring the people who come right after them. But without these runners-up, the trailblazers are just one-offs or oddities––instead of the beginning of big change. Mo celebrates the Black baseball great who joined the major leagues just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson, the second American […]

Fanny Brice: Death of the Original Funny Girl

47 minutes

Fans of Broadway and Barbra Streisand probably know the name Fanny Brice as the woman who refuses to let anyone rain on her parade in the beloved musical “Funny Girl.” But the real Fanny Brice, the original funny girl, was a trailblazing Jewish comedian, who lit up Broadway and created one of the most famous […]

My Favorite Mobits: Anna May Wong

57 minutes

On October 24th, 2022, the U.S. Mint issued a quarter with the image of movie star and trailblazer Anna May Wong, making her the first Asian American featured on U.S. currency. Wong wasn’t supposed to be in the movies. Her laundryman father was dead set against it. And Hollywood preferred white actors in “yellow face” […]

Valentino, Novarro & Lamas: Death of the Latin Lover

48 minutes

The frenzy Rudolph Valentino caused in life was matched only by the pandemonium unleashed when he died at age 31. With his brooding good looks and vulnerability, he and the other “Latin Lovers” that followed redefined the leading man. Mo also recounts the triumphant and tragic story of superstar Ramon Novarro and talks with TV […]

June Foray: Woman of a Thousand Voices

40 minutes

It’s hard to imagine a childhood without the classic cartoon characters June Foray gave voice to: Little Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch, Granny from the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’s villainous cobra. June Foray even provided the voice of the Chatty Cathy doll. Mo talks with Nancy Cartwright […]

Mr. & Mrs. Smith: Death of a Marriage Ban

47 minutes

1967 was a big year for marriage in America. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia overturned bans on interracial marriage in 16 states. The movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starred Sidney Poitier as a Black doctor engaged to a white woman. And in the middle of it all, Peggy Rusk and Guy […]

Season 4

LaWanda Page: Death of a Comedy Queen

Long before her turn as the sermonizing Aunt Esther on “Sanford and Son,” LaWanda Page was dazzling Black nightclub audiences – first as the flame-swallowing “Bronze Goddess of Fire”. Then, following in the footsteps of her childhood friend and eventual costar Redd Foxx, she became a queen of raunchy, tell-it-like-it-is stand up comedy. (Let’s just […]

Revisiting the Orphan Train: An American Odyssey

Between 1854 and 1929, 250,000 orphans and abandoned children were placed on East Coast city trains and sent west to live with new families. A desperate solution to a desperate problem, some of the stories turned out well and some far from well. The remarkable stories of these riders live on through their descendants, many […]

Death of a Sports Team: Satchel Paige and Los Dragones

There’s no shortage of sports teams that change cities or names over the course of their franchise history. But what about the teams that just cease to exist? Perhaps no team story packs more drama into one year of existence than that of Los Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo. It’s a story that combines one of […]

Death of the Very Special Episode

If you were a kid watching TV in the 1980s and 1990s, you probably saw a fair number of “Very Special Episodes,” when the usual blissful bubble of the sitcom world was punctured by real-world issues for a half-hour. Drugs, drinking and driving, stranger danger, even AIDS. But never fear, all would be resolved by […]

Mobits Extra: How Norman Lear Changed Television

Starting in the early 1970s, Norman Lear changed the face of television, fusing comedy with social commentary. Lear died on December 5th at the great old age of 101. Mo revisits their 2015 conversation for CBS Sunday Morning.

The Habsburg Jaw: Death of a Dynasty

For centuries European royals married only each other. It was believed to be the best way of consolidating power. But rampant royal inbreeding had increasingly negative consequences––including genetic abnormalities (like the protuberant “Habsburg Jaw”), the dying off of whole lines, and eventually serious geopolitical instability that culminated in World War I. Mo and Barnard College […]

Death of a Nepo Baby

“Nepo Baby” is a term popularly used to describe the celebrity children of celebrity parents. But family connections affect every field of work, and always have. And where family is involved, so is drama. Mo tells the stories of three of history’s biggest Nepo Babies: Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford; President John Quincy […]

JFK Impersonator Vaughn Meader: Death of a Career

November 22, 2023, marks 60 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the end of one of the era’s biggest comedy acts. During Kennedy’s term, Vaughn Meader’s impersonation of the president made him a household name. The comedy album “The First Family,” in which Meader uncannily played JFK, broke sales records and […]

Charlie McCarthy: Death of a Dummy

When Candice Bergen describes her childhood as weird and eccentric, she isn’t exaggerating. She grew up with a world-famous sibling, who met presidents and movie stars. He was also a dummy – the kind made of wood. Charlie McCarthy was the creation of her ventriloquist father Edgar Bergen. Candice tells Mo what life was like […]

Things I Wish Would Die

On this podcast we’ve honored some of our past’s most outstanding and underappreciated people and things. May they live on in memory. But let’s face it, some things deserve to disappear and be consigned to the dustbin of history. In this episode, Mo nominates three things that he’d like to see go the way of […]

Season 2

Anna May Wong: Death of a Trailblazer

Anna May Wong wasn’t supposed to be in the movies. Her traditionalist laundryman father was dead set against it. And Hollywood almost always used white actors in “yellow face” for Asian characters. But Wong knew what she wanted. As a young girl growing up in Los Angeles, she saw movies being made on the streets. […]

Mobituaries LIVE!

This week, CBS Sunday Morning’s hit podcast Mobituaries brings you a brand new episode taped before live audiences in Asbury Park, New Jersey and Fairfield, Connecticut. Mobituaries host and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca drew sold out crowds to discuss his new hit book, and his passion for obituaries. “I inherited my love of […]

Lawrence Welk: Death of a Square

In 1971, following two decades on air, ABC cancelled the Lawrence Welk Show, a musical variety show led by the German-accented bandleader and accordionist, Lawrence Welk. Welk and his show were swept up in a series of mass cancellations that included shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction. (“The Rural Purge”, as […]

The Orphan Train: Death of an Experiment

From 1854 to 1929, 250,000 abandoned or orphaned children in East Coast cities found themselves on journeys across the country. Shepherded by private organizations like the New York Foundling or the Children’s Aid Society, these orphans were resettled with families who promised to give them shelter, an education, and a place to grow up. It […]

Laura Branigan: Death of a Singer, Life of a Song

On June 12, 2019, the St. Louis Blues made franchise history when they won the Stanley Cup, beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the ice hockey championship in Boston. Just after the buzzer sounded, St. Louis fans celebrated their unlikely triumph with the most unlikely of anthems: the 1982 pop song, “Gloria.” Yes, […]

The Rural Purge: Death of the Country Broadcasting System

On the evening of January 8, 1964, tens of millions of Americans tuned their television sets to CBS for an epic matchup. This wasn’t a fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. Instead the main event was a feisty grandmother battling a kangaroo she had mistaken for a giant jackrabbit. This was the actual premise […]

The Black Congressmen of Reconstruction: Death of Representation

On May 13, 1862, just over a year into the Civil War, an enslaved man named Robert Smalls, who labored on a Confederate steamer in South Carolina’s Charleston harbor, set into motion a daring plan. As his great-great-grandson Michael Boulware Moore explained, “He saw that the Confederate crew had left, and he knew that oftentimes […]

Thomas Paine: Death of a Forgotten Founding Father

This past summer, guests lined up for a special event outside the legendary Greenwich Village piano bar, Marie’s Crisis. Visitors were on hand to take part in a rather unusual performance — a Mobituaries memorial do-over for a largely forgotten Founding Father: Thomas Paine. It turns out Paine died on, or near, the site of […]

Billy Carter: Death of the First Brother

America has a long tradition of unruly presidential brothers, none more famous than Billy Carter. He became so well-known for his antics, there was even a brand of beer named for him. Mo speaks to President Jimmy Carter and Billy’s widow and six children about the surprisingly complicated man behind the caricature.

Mobituaries Season 2 Trailer

CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and humorist Mo Rocca returns with more stories about the people and things that have long fascinated him and, yes, they’re all still dead. From the unruly presidential brother with his own beer to a 1980’s pop song that brought glory to a 2019 sports team, here’s a sneak peek at […]

Season 1

Death of a Tree: Roots of a Rivalry

The poisoning of Auburn University’s famed oak trees by University of Alabama fan Harvey Updyke made national news. Mo explores the legendary rivalry between these two college football powerhouses and the line between fandom and fanaticism – and talks with the man whose loyalty pushed him over the edge.

Chang and Eng: A Messy American Dream

Many of us have seen pictures of the original “Siamese Twins” Chang and Eng. But their story is so much more than a medical case study. Mo travels to Mount Airy, North Carolina – the inspiration for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and the real life home of these conjoined twins – to join the many descendants of Chang and Eng for their annual family reunion.

Neanderthals: Death of a Human Species

Mo welcomes his friend Michael Ian Black – comedian, author, podcaster, and, as it turns out, Neanderthal (we’ll explain). Mo talks to Michael and the world’s leading researchers about why our extinct human cousins have gotten such a bad rap for so many many years, and how we’re learning more about how close we really were. Oh, Mo also talks to the guy who played Cha-ka on the 70s kids show Land of the Lost.

Sammy Davis Jr. Death of the Entertainer

From the age of three Sammy Davis, Jr. did it all better than anyone else – singing, dancing, acting, even gun spinning. Mo talks to friends and family about what drove him to keep performing, even after the horrific accident that nearly ended his life. Featuring Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, Kim Novak, Dionne Warwick and more.

Audrey Hepburn: Death of an Icon

There were other stars as big as Audrey Hepburn, some even bigger.(Ahem, Katharine Hepburn?) So why is it that more than 25 years after her death her image still captivates us and her name trends regularly on social media? Mo explores why the attachment to Audrey is still so personal for so many people.

The Forgotten Forerunners

Mo tells the stories of three remarkable people who changed history – but whose names you’ve probably never heard. They are the pioneers before the pioneers: Before Rosa Parks, there was Elizabeth Jennings. Before Jackie Robinson, there was Moses Fleetwood Walker. And then there’s Lois Weber, the woman who ruled Hollywood 100 years ago.

Sitcom Deaths and Disappearances

Characters on sitcoms aren’t supposed to die. So when they do, it’s never less than
weird. Mo examines some of the most infamous sitcom deaths and disappearances
with Henry Winkler, Sandy Duncan and Alan Sepinwall.

JFK Impersonator Vaughn Meader: Death of a Career

Between late 1962 and late 1963, an American comedian found himself in a brief and rapturous period of astounding fame. Across the country, thousands tuned into their radio and television sets to hear his iconic impersonation, and roared with laughter when they played his hit album. The man was Vaughn Meader, and the act was […]

Mobituaries Season 1 Trailer

Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries. With Mobituaries he introduces listeners to the people who have long intrigued him—from the 20th century’s greatest entertainer … to the Civil Rights pioneer who is completely forgotten … to sitcom characters gone all too soon. Even if you know the names, you’ve never understood why they matter…until now.