Jennings, Peter 1938–2005
Jennings, Peter 1938–2005
(Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings)
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 29, 1938, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; died of lung cancer, August 7, 2005, in New York, NY. Journalist, broadcaster, reporter, and author. Jennings was a highly respected news broadcaster best known for his work as anchor for the American Broadcasting Company's (ABC) World News Tonight. The son of Canadian news anchor Charles Jennings, Peter was enamored with journalism and broadcasting at a young age. When he was nine years old he hosted the children's Canadian radio program Peter's People. He did not do well in school, however, and he dropped out in the tenth grade. He worked as a bank teller for a couple of years before serving as host of the television dance party Club Thirteen in 1957. Jennings continued to work in Canadian television and radio as a reporter and interviewer before hosting the programs Let's Face It and Time Out. During the early 1960s he was host and coproducer of the late-night television show Vue and was a reporter and coanchor on CTV National News. It was in this last job that Jennings was noticed by ABC executives, who invited him to join their company. Jennings became a fixture at ABC for the next forty-one years. He was given an anchor job almost immediately for Peter Jennings with the News, but his two years there showed that the young reporter was still too inexperienced to lead a major news program. He was then made a roving correspondent for several years, and from 1969 to 1974 was head of the Middle East bureau in Beirut, Lebanon. In this roll, Jennings covered such events as the Six-Day War and the 1972 terrorist attacks against Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Promoted to chief correspondent in 1975, he was based in London for three years and, in 1978, given the foreign-desk anchoring job on World News Tonight. With more experience behind him, Jennings excelled, and when Frank Reynolds passed away in 1983, Jennings was given Reynolds's job as anchor and chief editor. Jennings gained a reputation for his improvisational skills; he was cool and collected while covering such terrible disasters as the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion and, more recently, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When Jennings faced his own lung cancer, he did so with his famous resolve and dignity; unfortunately, he passed away not long after his diagnosis. Honored with numerous journalism and broadcasting awards, including several Emmy awards, Oversea Press Club awards, and, in 2004, the Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary for his The Kennedy Assassination—Beyond Conspiracy, Jennings was coauthor of such books as The Pope in Britain: Pope John Paul II British Visit, 1982 (1982) and In Search of America (2002).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, August 8, 2005, section 1, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2005, pp. A1, A15.
New York Times, August 9, 2005, p. C21.
Times (London, England), August 9, 2005, p. 48.