- Nov 4, 1916
Regarded by millions as the paragon of on-air trustworthiness, intelligence, professionalism, and unabashed integrity, Walter Cronkite single-handedly invented American television news as a CBS correspondent during the 1950s, with the medium still in a somewhat embryonic state. A former United Press correspondent from St. Joseph, MO -- who would… More Bio:
Regarded by millions as the paragon of on-air trustworthiness, intelligence, professionalism, and unabashed integrity, Walter Cronkite single-handedly invented American television news as a CBS correspondent during the 1950s, with the medium still in a somewhat embryonic state. A former United Press correspondent from St. Joseph, MO -- who would purportedly "go anywhere and do anything for a story, even ride a bomber or a glider into combat" -- Cronkite moved to CBS at the behest of the legendary Edward R. Murrow circa 1952, a position he held for 10 years. In that role, Cronkite carried American audiences through the Cold War, Korea, and other pivotal currents of the 1950s. He simultaneously hosted the eccentric, Sidney Lumet-directed series You Are There (CBS, 1953-1957), which featured reenactments of historical events presented as news broadcasts with Cronkite serving as anchor. As such, the venerable newsman concluded each broadcast with the now-infamous wrap-up: "What sort of a day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times -- and you were there."
Cronkite graduated to head anchor of the CBS Evening News in 1961, a post he retained for 20 years, until Friday, March 6, 1981, when Dan Rather inherited the job. During that time, Cronkite famously reported on such subjects as the Kennedy assassinations, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the Vietnam-era protests, the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, Watergate, and the Menachim-Begin peace accords. In fact, a large percentage of Americans who learned of those subjects from nightly news broadcasts did so through Cronkite's efforts simply because they trusted him.
Save a role in 1980s little-seen drama A Private Battle, and voiceover work as Captain New Eyes in 1993's animated We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Cronkite's feature film appearances are virtually nonexistent. His filmed work predominantly (and unsurprisingly) began after his retirement from full-time CBS work in 1981 and consists almost exclusively of hosting duties on dozens of documentary videos that intelligently treat a whirlwind of subjects, everything from South African segregation (Children of Apartheid, 1987) to welfare (Making Welfare Work, 1994) to homeland evangelical Christianity and its disturbing intersection with right-wing political factions (The Cronkite Reports: Christianity Reborn -- Prayer and Politics, 1995).
Like many of his peers in the newsroom, Cronkite also made a handful of humorous guest appearances as himself on the popular CBS series Murphy Brown: one in 1989, one in 1993, and one in 1997. Cronkite died of cerebral vascular disease in July 2009.
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