All this is background to a fascinating article by Peter Kornbluh in Politico, "'My Dearest Fidel': An ABC Journalist's Secret Liaison With Fidel Castro." Without even seeing the story, bells were going off in my head, and I had an idea who that journalist would be; clicking on it merely confirmed my suspicion.
It's a brilliant piece of long journalism, the kind that we don't see often enough anymore, documenting the details of how Howard became an intermediary between Havana and the White House, a story of politics and intrigue worthy of any spy novelist. And, befitting a spy novel, there's a romance between Howard and Castro, which makes the story even more intriguing. In some ways Howard reminds me of Dorothy Kilgallen, another famous female reporter of the time, one who covered the big stories (and, in the case of Dr. Sam Sheppard, was part of it), saw herself as part of history, and died under tragic circumstances from an overdose of pills.
You'll want to set aside some time and read this; whether or not you've ever heard of Lisa Howard, and no matter what you think of Fidel Castro, you'll be pulled into the narrative, and hard-pressed to stop before you get to the end. And as an added bonus - think of it as the companion to the article - here are a pair of YouTube videos. The first is the Howard-Castro interview as presented on ABC, while the second offers over two hours of raw footage surrounding the interview and Howard's tour of Cuba with Castro. (You may prefer to skip around with that.)
Would I have even noticed this article had I not read that long-ago TV Guide profile? Kornbluh writes that while at one time she was one of the "most famous TV journalists in the United States," today "almost no one remembers Lisa Howard." I remember Lisa Howard, though, thanks to that issue from over 50 years ago. Like so many things I've run across over the years, it's part of the permanent record.