8″ x 10″ Signed in 1996 at Borders, World Trade Center, New York, NY
“And That’s The Way It Is.” A great saying from one of the world’s most well known news anchormen. A lot of people from the 1930’s, up to the 70’s, and 80’s, have lived through some of the biggest news stories in history. These people followed most things like Kennedy’s assassination and the Apollo landing as well as they could. But they couldn’t of done that very well without this person. This person was, and still is, one of the most remembered people in the news industry. From a little kid to an adult, his fascination with the news led him to be one of the greatest news anchormen in history. This person I have described is Walter Cronkite.
Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was born in St. Joseph Missouri on November 4th, 1916. He grew up in Houston, Texas where he attended Lanier Middle School and had a small job selling newspapers. This job was Walters’s first fascination with the “news.” Cronkite later attended San Jacinto High School and enrolled at the University Of Texas in 1933.
At the UOT, Cronkite joined the Chi Phi fraternity and ran for freshman class president. He lost to high school buddy Joe Greenhill, who was later chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Cronkite’s newspaper work, along with a magazine article he read about a foreign correspondent, motivated him to quit at the UOT in 1935 and take a full-time news job at the Houston Post.
Walter later started his main journalism career as a campus correspondent at the Houston Post. Mr. Cronkite worked there part time during high school and his freshman year in college. Not only that, but he worked on “The Daily Texan” at the UOT and also at the State Capitol, forming a lifelong tie to the city. He got paid for part-time work as a copy boy and sometimes as a reporter for various newspapers at their Capitol bureaus. Walter also worked as a sports announcer for a local radio station in Oklahoma City. Talk about busy!
Walter then joined the United Press in 1937. He worked there for eleven years. Working as a correspondent there, he covered endless events including World War II. He landed with the Allied troops in North Africa, and also covered the battle of the North Atlantic in 1942. The Normandy beachhead assaults were another event that he covered in 1944. During that, Walter participated as one of the first newsmen to be in the B-17 raids over Germany.
After Mr. Cronkite had reported the surrendering of the Germans, he established United Press bureaus in Europe, he was named United Press bureau chief in Brussels and covered the Nuremberg trials of Goering, Hess and other top Nazis. From 1946 to 1948, he was chief correspondent for United Press in Moscow.
After the war, Walter found out that he had a case of appendicitis, so he had a surgery to remove it. Along with that was a tough recuperation. Walter joined CBS News in Washington as a correspondent, in 1950. He was the anchorman for the CBS political convention and election coverage from 1952 to 1980. Mr. Cronkite assumed his duties on the CBS Evening News on April 16, 1962. When he first joined the CBS Evening News team, the broadcast was only fifteen minutes long. We now know them to be at least 30 minutes to an hour long. But on September 2, 1963, it was network television’s first half-hour week night news broadcast show, and it made its debut with Mr. Cronkite’s interview with President John F. Kennedy that made headlines all around the world.
During his three decades working with that network, Cronkite reported on huge events from around the globe such as summits, coronations, assassinations, Vietnam and Watergate and he also hosted a series of award-winning documentaries on social issues of the day. He became an acknowledged expert on America’s space program too covering the Apollo landing on the moon.
Cronkite himself became involved in a scandal in 1976 when television newsman Sam Jaffe reported seeing his name on an alleged White House list of journalists who had worked for the CIA. In an angry confrontation with CIA director George Bush on February 4, Cronkite demanded that he disclose which news people had actually been CIA agents. Bush refused. A week later, the CBS Evening News reported that at least two former correspondents for CBS had secretly worked for the spy agency.
Walter Cronkite’s last regularly scheduled assignment was for CBS radio news was on the 90-second series, “Walter Cronkite’s 20th Century,” which ran for five years. It went off the air in 1992. In 1993 Walter co-founded The Cronkite Ward Company, which was a documentary production company which has produced more than 25 award-winning documentary hours for The Discovery Channel, PBS and other networks.
1996 was a year of reflection for Mr. Cronkite during which, Cronkite Ward and CBS network produced his memoirs entitled Cronkite Remembers. The two-hour special aired on CBS in May. The Discovery Channel also broadcast an eight-hour documentary series in early 1997. Then in 1996, Mr. Cronkite’s autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, was published by Knopf, and became a bestseller. In his more than sixty years in journalism he has truly covered the world, and won the trust and respect of generations of Americans
In case you are wondering, Walter does have a life outside of his work. In 1936, while visiting his grandparents in Kansas City, he took the position as a one-man news and sports staff with the KCMO radio station. There he met a new advertising writer named Betsy Maxwell, a recent graduate from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Four years later they were married.
Mr. Cronkite is an enthusiastic sailor of his boat, a 60-foot yacht to be exact. Walter named it “the Wyntje.” He has recorded his experiences sailing Chesapeake Bay to Key West in his book, South by Southeast Published by Oxmoor House in 1983. He recorded sailing the Northeast coast in; North by Northeast also published by Oxmoor House in 1986. Finally in Westwind, again published by Oxmoor House in 1990, he shared his sailing tour of America’s West Coast.
Later in Walter’s life he was still playing singles tennis at his age and keeping very active. But one morning Walter woke up with a slight, very slight pressure in his chest area. Walter phoned his doctor and reported it. His doctor told him there was nothing wrong with his heart and his blood pressure had always been perfect. But just in case, they hadn’t had a stress test for a couple of years. So he should go have a stress test. Well, it turned out that Walter did have a heart problem and before he knew it he was laying on the operating table for a quadruple bypass. He didn’t have symptoms, pains, or any problem. The operation was April first and in an interview I read he said, “The operation was April Fools’ Day. I’ve always wondered about that, but it was April 1st.” He recovered at a lightning speed and the doctors told him he was ahead of the curve, and he had no complications or problems.
Mr. Cronkite was the only journalist to be voted among the top ten “most influential decision makers in America” in surveys conducted by U.S. News and World Report and also was named the “most influential person” in broadcasting. And, in a nationwide viewer opinion survey conducted as recently as 1995, more than a decade after leaving the CBS anchor desk, he again was voted “Most Trusted Man in Television News.”
Walter Cronkite has done, and gone through so much, in his life. I am so amazed at the work and effort that Walter Cronkite put into his life as a news anchorman. As a little kid his fascination with news brought him in to a journalism career for many different programs in different cities, in different states, and in different countries. He is a family man, with his wife Betsy, his three children, and his grandchildren. Not to mention all of the different events that he covered in his lifetime: World War II, the Apollo space missions, Kennedy’s assassination, it’s endless. This man was, is, and always will be one of the greatest newsmen of the news industry. And that’s the way it was, and still is, with Walter Cronkite.