Edwin Newman
Edwin Harold Newman was an American newscaster
News presenter
A news presenter is a person who presents news during a news program in the format of a television show, on the radio or the Internet.News presenters can work in a radio studio, television studio and from remote broadcasts in the field especially weather...

, journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 and author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...


Early life and education

Newman was born on January 25, 1919 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to Myron and Rose (née Parker) Newman. His older brother
Siblings are people who share at least one parent. A male sibling is called a brother; and a female sibling is called a sister. In most societies throughout the world, siblings usually grow up together and spend a good deal of their childhood socializing with one another...

 was M. W. Newman, a longtime reporter for the Chicago Daily News
Chicago Daily News
The Chicago Daily News was an afternoon daily newspaper published between 1876 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois.-History:The Daily News was founded by Melville E. Stone, Percy Meggy, and William Dougherty in 1875 and began publishing early the next year...

. Newman married Rigel Grell on August 14, 1944. They had one daughter, Nancy, who was born on October 6, 1945.

After graduating
Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the ceremony that is sometimes associated, where students become Graduates. Before the graduation, candidates are referred to as Graduands. The date of graduation is often called degree day. The graduation itself is also...

 from George Washington High School
George Washington High School (New York City)
George Washington High School is a public high school located in the Fort George neighborhood of the Washington Heights section of Manhattan in New York City, New York....

, Newman attended the University of Wisconsin, earning a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 in 1940. He was also on the staff of The Daily Cardinal
The Daily Cardinal
The Daily Cardinal is a student newspaper that serves the University of Wisconsin–Madison community. The sixth oldest daily student newspaper in the country, it began publishing on Monday, April 4, 1892...

. He briefly did graduate studies
Postgraduate education
Postgraduate education involves learning and studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of higher education...

 in American government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 at Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, most often referred to as Louisiana State University, or LSU, is a public coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The University was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name...

 prior to entering the journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...



Newman worked initially for the wire services, first the International News Service
International News Service
International News Service was a U.S.-based news agency founded by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1909.Established two years after the Scripps family founded the United Press Association, INS scrapped among the newswires...

 (as a copy boy, mostly in the Senate) and then the United Press. On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, Sunday, December 7, 1941, he heard the news during a radio concert. When he rang the office asking if he should come in, "Hell yes!" came the reply. He took dictation for 12 hours as United Press reporters phoned in their stories.

Newman served four years in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 from 1942 to 1945. He was a signal officer stationed first in Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

 and then at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn Navy Yard
The United States Navy Yard, New York–better known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard or the New York Naval Shipyard –was an American shipyard located in Brooklyn, northeast of the Battery on the East River in Wallabout Basin, a semicircular bend of the river across from Corlear's Hook in Manhattan...


Following the war, Newman worked as a reporter for United Press (1945–1946), mostly reporting about the State Department, before moving to the CBS News
CBS News
CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. The current chairman is Jeff Fager who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes, while the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes. CBS News' flagship program is the CBS Evening News, hosted by the network's main...

 radio division (1947–1949) as assistant to Eric Sevareid
Eric Sevareid
Arnold Eric Sevareid was a CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977. He was one of a group of elite war correspondents—dubbed "Murrow's Boys"—because they were hired by pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow....



Between 1949 and 1952 Newman worked freelance, primarily for NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

. He also wrote for numerous publications and worked for the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 (1951) in Greece.

In 1952, he began to work for NBC full-time. He covered significant stories from the funeral of King George VI from the freezing battlements of Windsor Castle (1952); to Britain’s emergence as a nuclear power; to the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 (1956). At the same time, as always, he loved quirky stories. Once he climbed a tree in Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, is one of the Royal Parks of London, lying immediately to the west of Hyde Park. It is shared between the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The park covers an area of 111 hectares .The open spaces...

 dressed in a hunting outfit, complete with deerstalker hat and whistle, to investigate a report that ducks had taken to nesting in trees.

Newman was Bureau Chief for NBC, first in Rome and then in Paris. In both assignments, diplomatic and political news such as the twists and turns of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the increasingly divisive anti-colonial Algerian War, vied with stories to cover elsewhere in Europe and further afield. Newman covered the accession to power of President Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 in 1958. He was decorated Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 for his coverage of the President’s funeral in 1970, and for strengthening the understanding of France in the United States.

1961-1984: NBC News

Between 1961 and 1984, Newman participated in every kind of program NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 produced, as well as for other parts of NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

He was a regular member of the Today Show team. On Meet the Press
Meet the Press
Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program produced by NBC. It is the longest-running television series in American broadcasting history, despite bearing little resemblance to the original format of the program seen in its television debut on November 6, 1947. It has been...

, he was one of the most frequent panelists and very often the moderator.

From 1960 to 1984, he played a central role in NBC's coverage of the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 and Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 national conventions at a time when gavel to gavel coverage was the norm. He, along with John Chancellor
John Chancellor
John William Chancellor was a well-known American journalist who spent most of his career with NBC News...

, Frank McGee and Sander Vanocur
Sander Vanocur
Sander "Sandy" Vanocur is an American journalist.- Career :Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Vanocur moved to Peoria, Illinois when he was twelve years old. After attending Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the Northwestern...

, were fitted with technologically advanced backpacks to enable them to roam the convention floor to conduct live interviews with delegates for the first time in 1968. They were dubbed "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

Newman was a specialist in breaking news. In 1963, he made the first announcement on NBC radio of President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

’s death. He anchored the television coverage of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy (1968) as well as the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War (1967) and the Vietnam Ceasefire (1973). In 1981, after an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, he was seized to anchor NBC's television coverage for a considerable time until full teams were mustered.

Newman was the only journalist to interview Emperor Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

. The interview took place in September 1975 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, just before Hirohito's diplomatically delicate visit to the United States.

For his program Speaking Freely, he conducted more than 250 hour-long interviews with leading figures of the day between 1967 and 1976. Among those he interviewed were film-maker Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. Described by Woody Allen as "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera", he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and...

; zoologist Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Zacharias Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch...

; classical guitarist Andres Segovia
Andrés Segovia
Andrés Torres Segovia, 1st Marquis of Salobreña , known as Andrés Segovia, was a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist from Linares, Jaén, Andalucia, Spain...

; boxer Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

; and the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

. The series was broadcast on Sunday mornings by the local New York station, WNBC
WNBC, virtual channel 4 , is the flagship station of the NBC television network, located in New York City. WNBC's studios are co-located with NBC corporate headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan...

 and syndicated to other stations.

Newman moderated two presidential debates, both of which called on his legendary calm and courtesy. In 1976, he was chosen to moderate the first presidential debate since 1960. The debate between President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 and Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 was marred by a 27-minute loss of sound during which the candidates stood silently by their lecterns. In 1984, President Reagan faced Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

; when Reagan overran the time limit for a closing statement, he was obliged to cut off the President in full flow.

He took part in numerous documentaries while at NBC. Among those for NBC were: Japan: East is West (1961); Who Shall Live? (about kidney dialysis, 1965); Pensions: The Broken Promise (1972); Violence in America (1977); Spying for Uncle Sam (1978); Reading, Writing and Reefer (1978); Oil and American Power (1979); and The Billionaire Hunts (1981).

Other work

As a music lover, he hosted Boston Symphony concerts from Tanglewood; he contributed to the work of the Religious Affairs Unit at NBC; was a Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 drama critic (1965–1971); and, as a baseball and boxing aficionado from childhood, relished sports broadcasts.

Newman was also the man giving in-studio news updates during the short-lived morning version of The David Letterman Show
The David Letterman Show
The David Letterman Show was a live morning NBC talk show hosted by David Letterman from June 23 to October 24, 1980. The show originally ran for 90 minutes, then 60 minutes from August 4 onward.-Background:...

in 1980 on NBC. On multiple occasions, he received standing ovations from the show's studio audience.

1984 and after

After leaving NBC in January 1984, Newman was greatly in demand as an interviewer, narrator and moderator. He took part in many programs on PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 and on cable channels. One series to which he was particularly committed was Congress: We the People. He moderated the annual televised conferences of the Former Secretaries of State (from 1983), and conducted a definitive series of interviews with Dean Rusk
Dean Rusk
David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Rusk is the second-longest serving U.S...

 (US Secretary of State 1961-69), both for the Southern Center for International Studies
Southern Center for International Studies
The Southern Center for International Studies , founded in 1962, is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to international study. Located in Atlanta, GA, it hosts several annual events, such as the Retired Secretaries of Defense Conference, and regularly hosts events for visiting dignitaries...

, Atlanta Georgia. And by contrast, he narrated a series of programs about the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

. He was also in demand to play himself in films and on television. Among his credits were the films The Pelican Brief
The Pelican Brief
The Pelican Brief is a legal-suspense thriller written by John Grisham in 1992. The hardcover edition was published by Doubleday in that same year. Two paperback editions were published, both by Dell Publishing in 1993...

, Spies Like Us
Spies Like Us
Spies Like Us is a 1985 American comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Forrest, and Donna Dixon...

, and My Fellow Americans
My Fellow Americans
My Fellow Americans is a 1996 American comedy film starring Jack Lemmon, Dan Aykroyd and James Garner as feuding ex-presidents. Lauren Bacall, Esther Rolle, John Heard, Wilford Brimley, Bradley Whitford and Jeff Yagher also appear in supporting performances...

, and episodes of such television series as Newhart
Newhart is a television situation comedy starring comedian Bob Newhart and actress Mary Frann as an author and wife who owned and operated an inn located in a small, rural Vermont town that was home to many eccentric characters. The show aired on the CBS network from October 25, 1982 to May 21, 1990...

, Mr. Belvedere
Mr. Belvedere
Mr. Belvedere is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from March 15, 1985, until July 8, 1990. The series was based on the Lynn Aloysius Belvedere character created by Gwen Davenport for her 1947 novel Belvedere, which was later adapted into the 1948 film Sitting Pretty...

, The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls is an American sitcom created by Susan Harris, which originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992. Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, the show centers on four older women sharing a home in Miami, Florida...

, Wings, and Murphy Brown
Murphy Brown
Murphy Brown is an American situation comedy which aired on CBS from November 14, 1988, to May 18, 1998, for a total of 247 episodes. The program starred Candice Bergen as the eponymous Murphy Brown, a famous investigative journalist and news anchor for FYI, a fictional CBS television...


He lectured extensively on English and on the news business.

Final years

He spent his final years quietly, moving with his wife to England in 2007 to be nearer their daughter. He died of pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 in Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 on August 13, 2010. The public announcement of his death was delayed for a little over a month
A month is a unit of time, used with calendars, which was first used and invented in Mesopotamia, as a natural period related to the motion of the Moon; month and Moon are cognates. The traditional concept arose with the cycle of moon phases; such months are synodic months and last approximately...

 until September 15 to allow a period of private mourning for his family. His wife and daughter survive him.

Humor and publications

Newman had a rare blend of seriousness and humor. For a 1964 documentary, he traveled from Paris on the Orient Express
Orient Express
The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train service originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. It ran from 1883 to 2009 and is not to be confused with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train service, which continues to run.The route and rolling stock...

, talking to people along the way – and famously ended in a bubble bath in Istanbul. He also relished puns. When he worked on The Today Show, his doggerel poem reviewing each year’s events would end, "Happy Noo Year to Yoose from Edwin Newman NBC Noose." Around the time he left NBC in 1984, he was twice host of Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

and on one occasion, to the delight of the audience, sang the song "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
"Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" was written by Sam H. Stept with lyrics by Sidney Clare. Original publication also credited singer Bee Palmer as co-composer. The song was published in 1930...

" as part of the opening monologue.

In 1974, his first book, Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English? reached Number 1 in the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List. A Civil Tongue followed in 1976; Sunday Punch (a comic novel) in 1979; and I Must Say in 1988. The last, a collection of his syndicated columns for King Features
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate, a print syndication company owned by The Hearst Corporation, distributes about 150 comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles and games to nearly 5000 newspapers worldwide...

, ranged over US politics and foreign policy; his journalistic assignments; and the state of English.

He served for many years as the Chairman of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin).

External links

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