Frank, Reuven 1920–2006

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Frank, Reuven 1920–2006

(Israel Reuven Frank)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 7, 1920, in Montréal, Quebec, Canada; died of complications from pneumonia, February 5, 2006, in Englewood, NJ. Television producer, broadcasting executive, journalist, and author. A pioneer of network news, Frank was a producer and former president of NBC News, where he helped create programs such as the Huntley-Brinkley Report and made Tom Brokaw a star anchorman. After attending college in Toronto, he came to the United States and completed a B.S. degree at the City College of the City University of New York in 1942. Having transplanted himself into the United States, when America entered the war he enlisted in the U.S. Army, seeing action in France and attaining the rank of sergeant. Returning to civilian life, he began his journalism career at the Newark Evening News as a reporter and night city editor. Frank then joined the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in 1950. Television was just making its ways into American homes at the time, and Frank found himself in the position of producing some of its first news programs. He thus became a major architect of how news shows were made, and his influence is still felt today. Realizing early on that the advantage of television over radio was that it could broadcast images, Frank produced shows that took full advantage of this aspect of the medium. His first big mark on television came as executive producer of The Huntley-Brinkley Report, featuring Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, a now-famous team he could take credit for bringing together; he also attested that he was the one who wrote the well-known closing dialog: "Good night, Chet," "Good night, David." Frank also produced the late-night news show Weekend, which gained attention for its somewhat irreverent approach to news. Heavily involved in television coverage of political conventions and elections, he greatly influenced how they were represented on TV. Frank was promoted to president of NBC News in 1968, serving in that post until 1972, then again from 1982 to 1984. It was during the early 1980s that he put Tom Brokaw in the anchor seat of NBC Nightly News. Another claim to fame of Frank's was that he produced many quality news documentaries, most notably the 1963 Emmy Award-winning The Tunnel, about East Germans escaping past the Berlin Wall to make it to the West. This was one of a total of seven Emmys that Frank would receive; he also earned two Robert E. Sherwood Awards, a George Polk award, and a Columbia Journalism Alumni award for distinguished service. Retiring in 1988, Frank wrote about his experiences in the memoir Out of Thin Air (1991).



Frank, Reuven, Out of Thin Air, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1991.


Chicago Tribune, February 7, 2006, section 2, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2006, p. BI0.

New York Times, February 7, 2006, p. A18.

Times (London, England), February 21, 2006, p. 62.

Washington Post, February 7, 2006, p. B6.