Sanders, Marlene (1931—)

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Sanders, Marlene (1931—)

American journalist and television executive. Born on January 10, 1931, in Cleveland, Ohio; daughter of Mac Sanders and Evelyn R. (Menitoff) Sanders; attended Ohio State University, 1948–50; attended the Sorbonne in Paris, 1950; married Jerome Toobin, on May 27, 1958; children: Jeffrey Toobin (a television news correspondent); Mark Toobin.

Television news correspondent and producer Marlene Sanders broke barriers for women in the area of network news throughout her career. She was born in 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. Following one year at the Sorbonne in Paris (1950), she set her sights on the theater and was involved with summer-stock and off-Broadway productions before taking a job with a small television station in New York City. Her work with Mike Wallace on his interview show "Night Beat" (1956–58) was followed by a position as assistant director of news and public affairs for New York's radio station WNEW (1962). While there, Sanders wrote her radio documentary "The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto" for which she received the Writers Guild of America Award in 1964.

The same year, she joined her first major television network, ABC, where she would remain for nearly a decade and a half. During her time there, she became the first woman to anchor a nightly television network newscast (1964), the first woman to report from the Vietnam War (1966), and the first woman vice president of a television network news division (1976). Her promotion to the latter position, as vice president and director of documentaries for ABC, came as a result of her work as a producer of award-winning documentaries, including "Children in Peril" (1972) and "The Right to Die" (1974). Sanders also produced "Woman's Place" (1973), a pioneering documentary which looked at the issue of gender roles. In 1978, Sanders left ABC for CBS to produce the news magazine "CBS Reports." Rejecting a transfer to CBS radio in 1987, she left the network and went to work two years later for New York's public-television station WNET (1989). Her 1989 book Waiting for Prime Time, cowritten with Marcia Rock , detailed the experiences of female television journalists.

Sanders, a three-time Emmy Award winner, received many honors for her professional achievements over the years, including the Golden Mike Award from McCall's magazine in 1964 and the Broadcast Woman of the Year Award from American Women in Radio and Television in 1975. She was a faculty member of New York University as well as of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism and served as a professional in residence at the Media Studies Center of the Freedom Forum Foundation.


Read, Phyllis J., and Bernard L. Witlieb. The Book of Women's Firsts. NY: Random House, 1992.

Gloria Cooksey , freelance writer, Sacramento, California

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Sanders, Marlene (1931—)

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