You are currently browsing the Jennifer Elias blog archives for July, 2013

Ken Venturi: Golfer, Storyteller, Rat Pack-er

Last night on the “In Memory of” portion of the ESPYS, a man by the name of Ken Venturi was mentioned having recently passed away. But several months before that I wrote a brief profile on him for NBC Bay Area.

Just days before his death, the 82-year-old San Francisco native, golf champion and national golf broadcaster, Ken Venturi joined 130 of the greatest golfers in the world.

Venturi participated in SJSU’s golf team during the years of 1951-53′ and his induction is described as “a tremendous honor for one of SJSU’s most decorated athletes of all time,” by SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “He had a wonderful professional career in sports and then in broadcasting while always keeping SJSU close to his heart,” Fan said. “He still has constant contact with the men’s golf coach and has conducted clinics and fundraisers on behalf of the golf program here at SJSU.”

Being the only amateur with a 54-hole lead in the Masters, the voice of CBS Sports for 35 years and winning captain of the 2000 President’s Cup are just a few accomplishments under Venturi’s belt. His proceeding broadcasting career even proved exceptional when he was awarded the PGA of American Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award in 2000.

Photo Courtesy of SFGate

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis told Spartan Athletics that Venturi’s 1964 U.S. Open victory is one of the greatest moments of the tournament’s 112-year history. “His ability to overcome extremely difficult conditions at Congressional personifies the perseverance, determination and execution required to be a U.S. Open champion.”

Part of a golden era in Bay Area golfing, Venturi joined golfers Bob Rosburg, Johnny Miller and George Archer in a San Franciscans-take-all winning streak. “The last time I had tears in my eyes was when I won the U.S. Open,” Venturi said. “This has been a special day, and I’m deeply honored.”

He participated in many charities including New York-based organization called Guiding Eyes Classic which benefited blind golfers and raised more than $6 million. One of the participating guide dogs ended up saving his owner’s life, safely guiding him down the stairs of  the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Venturi’s off-field life also proved one for the books, but when your best friend slash roommate is Frank Sinatra and you get a shout out in one of Mark Frost’s books, no less is expected.

He is survived by his third wife, Kathleen, and two sons, Matthew and Tim, according to The Associated Press.

You can read my original story for NBC Bay Area here. A great gallery of photos called “Ken Venturi through the years” is available for viewing on SFGate’s blog.

Queen of the Lens

In what was the best birthday deadline I’ve come upon, I had the pleasure of writing a profile on innovative photog Annie Leibovitz’ for the current 5.2 “Invent” issue of Content Magazine on newsstands now.

 While she is responsible for capturing masterpieces like the Disney Dream Series, John Lennon hours before his death, and countless magazine covers, Annie Leibovitz is no exception to life’s hardships. After going through depression, financial struggles and the passing of her partner, Leibovitz divulged to us how she found renewal at an older age, through a series of stills which are on display in an exhibit called Pilgrimage. Here are a couple excerpts and outtakes:

“The renewal process began on a trip with her children. In a deep depression, Leibovitz reluctantly went with her daughter sightseeing at Niagara Falls. ‘ There is this moment, where you ask yourself, ‘Well, should I jump?’ she says jokingly. But, ‘I saw my kids staring at the falls, just mesmerized. I started thinking of places I wanted to go.”

“One thing they teach young photographers is bring them through the darkroom idea so you know how imagery is made. But that will probably go away at some point. I’m a photographer student with this digital as the rest of us. This project really showed me the latitude that we have in digital. It taught me that what we disliked about digital to begin with is what we’re really thriving on. Before we didn’t want to see things sharp. And now we want to see things sharp. We’re going deeper into the ocean and higher in the sky. We’re seeing animals in the dark. It’s exciting.”


“One of the great things of getting older is you do know what you’re doing. And, sometimes you’re successful and sometimes you’re not, but it’s okay. I think it has to do with if you survive a Rolling Stones tour in your 20s and still live, then you go into some other kind of status,” she says jokingly. “Then you get to be in your late 60s and you just have to hang in there.”

And here’s more from the issue including another story I did on the company Slice:

The Art of The Blade

After dedicating his life’s work toward supporting his special needs son, Slice founder and serial entrepreneur TJ Scimone turned his day job into a channel of innovating basic household items. (Content Magazine)

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