This fascination and interest is often seen in regard to American presidents. It's likely one of reasons The West Wing was such a popular television program.
The death yesterday evening of Gerald Ford brings this point home. In his case, however, I think President Ford will be more remembered for his times than for his own life -- but his impact upon those times was great.
Had President Ford not pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate sins and been elected in 1976, it's impossible to know what America would look like today. Perhaps we would not have known the Reagan era and the Clinton era -- and all the changes those times entailed for our body politic and our American culture.
To borrow words from John Henry Newman, President Ford was "a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons."
(The photo above is from the National Archives via wikipedia. Pictured are Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter and Ford with their wives at the April 27, 1994, funeral of Richard Nixon.)