[PeterPaul.ca] — Walter Cronkite, known as “the most trusted man in America” who brought his personification to an entire generation through the “CBS Evening News”, has died at the age of 92, his family said Friday.
Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. in New York Friday after complications from cerebrovascular disease, a disease his family said he had suffered for some time. His family was at his side when he died at his home.
He had been in failing health for the past few weeks in which family members said he “would not recover” from.
U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement marking Cronkite’s passing, saying he “was someone we could trust to guide us through most important issues of day; a voice of certainty in uncertain world.”
Cronkite, born on November 4, 1916, dropped out of college in 1935 to begin his journalism career in 1935 as a radio announcer in Oklahoma City. He started with CBS Television in 1950 for a CBS affiliate in Washington D.C., becoming the networks lead anchor from April 16, 1962 until March 6, 1981.
In his early career, Cronkite competed with NBC’s Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, who consistently beat him in the ratings race. Cronkite would not be outdone.
In September 1963, the “CBS Evening News” was extended from 15 minutes to 30, making him America’s first television anchor to host a nightly half-hour news broadcast.
As the world celebrates the 40 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission on Monday, he would have remembered that landing in a very special way.
By the time Apollo 11 touched down on the Lunar surface in 1969, Cronkite had turned CBS around, making it the most-watched television broadcast during Apollo 11. A year later, Cronkite would repeat his success, becoming the most watched television newsman in America.
During his tenure at CBS, Cronkite covered stories ranging from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the Watergate scandal involving the late president Richard Nixon.
Cronkite interrupted “As The World Turns” to bring viewers the news of President Kennedy’s shooting.
“Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting,” he said on November 22, 1963.
Cronkite, who was live on air, received an Associated Press bulletin in his hand which he removed his glasses to read. With noticeable emotion, Cronkite put his glasses back on and went into his reporting.
“President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”
The now famous footage was featured in Oliver Stone’s film, “JFK”. Cronkite later called the film “Oliver Stone junk.”
In another broadcast, while speaking on the phone with White House press secretary Tom Johnston on January 22, 1973, Cronkite put Johnston on hold to report the news of former president Lyndon Johnson’s death while still gathering details in front of a live audience.
He held a telephone to his ear as he relayed the news to his viewers as CBS typewriters scrambled in the background.
Decades later, his iconic voice can still be heard announcing Katie Couric, the current anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Couric said during Friday’s “Larry King Live” that sitting in Cronkite’s seat was sometimes “intimidating.”
After decades of service, Cronkite retired on February 14, 1980, from CBS. In his final broadcast, he said “This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of the “CBS Evening News.”
“For me, it’s a moment for which I long have planned, but which, nevertheless, comes with some sadness.”
And that’s the way it was.