DEAD: Peter Jennings


Peter Jennings (aged 67)
Canadian-American broadcast journalist

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings CM (July 29, 1938 – August 7, 2005) was a Canadian-American journalist who served as the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight from 1983 until his death from lung cancer in 2005. Despite dropping out of high school, he transformed himself into one of American television’s most prominent journalists.

DEATH: On August 7, 2005, just after 11:30 pm EDT, Charles Gibson broke into local news in the eastern U.S. and regular programming on ABC’s western affiliates to announce Jennings’s death from lung cancer. He read a short statement from the family, and disclosed that Jennings had died in his New York apartment with his fourth wife, two children by his marriage to Kati Marton, and sister at his side. The anchor’s ABC colleagues, including Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and Ted Koppel, shared their thoughts on Jennings’s death. The next morning, Brokaw and Rather fondly remembered their former rival on the morning news shows. “Peter, of the three of us, was our prince,” said Brokaw on Today. “He seemed so timeless. He had such élan and style.” Canada’s television networks led off their morning news shows with the news of Jennings’s death and had remembrances from their “big three” anchors, Peter Mansbridge at the CBC, Lloyd Robertson at CTV, and Kevin Newman (himself a former colleague of Jennings at ABC) at Global.

Jennings’s widow, Kayce Freed, and family held a private service in New York. Jennings was cremated and his ashes split in half. Half of his ashes remained in his home in Long Island and the other half was placed in his summer home in the Gatineau Hills, near Ottawa. The 57th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 18, 2005, included a tribute to Jennings by Brokaw and Rather. A public memorial service for Jennings was held two days later at Carnegie Hall. Notable journalists, political leaders, and other friends of Jennings attended. Jennings left a US$50 million estate: half went to Freed, and most of the rest to his son and daughter. On December 5, 2005, after much speculation, and nearly eight months after Jennings stopped anchoring, ABC named Vargas and Bob Woodruff co-anchors for World News Tonight.

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