'Cocky,' 'Charming,' 'Fundamentally Goofy'

TED KOPPEL: From the time I first met Peter forty-one years ago until our last meeting shortly before he died, I felt a thrill whenever I saw him. Not many people have genuine charisma, that sort of animal magnetism that makes it difficult to focus on anybody else in the room.

MIKE LEE: Was he cocky, informed, charming, dismissive? Yes, all of those and more. He was larger than life. I never spent one minute—and I have spent many days and hours with Peter—that I didn't feel either charmed or a bit intimidated, and most of all informed.

ALAN ALDA: He was very specific and active about his compassion. He personally went down to soup kitchens and fed people. Not as a show, but as something to do as a person. He didn't do it as a famous person; he did it as Peter.


ALEXANDRA WOLFE: I think what speaks most highly of him are his children. Lizzie and Chris are two of the bravest, most intellectually curious people I know. I think because of his outlook on life, they care about the world that doesn't touch themselves.

PAUL FRIEDMAN: What people didn't get was that he had this quality of sweetness. I have some video—which, no, I won't give you—of Peter and my children and his children. And Peter is on the floor, pretending to be a horse and these four kids are climbing all over him. It went on for an hour and a half. There is no question in my mind that he enjoyed it at least as much as they did.

LYNN SHERR: He related to smaller people. He related to older people. He related to less privileged people in a way that was quite astounding, given his status in life. Once, I invited him to Thanksgiving dinner. He paid more attention to an elderly aunt than he did to anybody else around the table—talked to her, listened to her. That's what Peter did. Peter listened. It was a miracle to see. He made her feel as if she was the youngest person in the room.

PETER SHAW: This was a fellow to whom bliss was to be paddling a canoe on a remote mountain lake in Canada, perhaps in the winter. Peter was very much a family person. In many ways he was at his happiest when he was around the dinner table in the kitchen, as he was often with us, eating pasta, drinking wine, eating red peppers that had been sliced by my wife.

CHRISTOPHER JENNINGS: My dad had this unique mix of cooking and dancing. We would turn up the music very loud, and as we chopped and stirred, dad would swing me into his famous jitterbug. My father was an urbane and graceful man, but as a parent he never shied away from being deeply and fundamentally goofy.