JOHN CHANCELLOR Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: John William Chancellor                                                           
Born: 24 July 1927 Chicago, Illinois                                                   
Died: 12 July 1996 Princeton, New Jersey                                               
John William Chancellor (July 14, 1927 - July 12, 1996) was a well-known               
American journalist, who spent most of his career associated with the NBC               
television network. His most famous career achievement was anchoring the NBC           
Nightly News from 1970 to 1982.                                                         
Chancellor attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1949.             
Originally a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, he first started his career in         
national television news as a correspondent on NBC's evening newscast, the             
Huntley-Brinkley Report.                                                               
Chancellor covered issues of national importance while on The Huntley-Brinkley         
Report, such as the 1957 integration of the Little Rock Central High School. He         
spent a number of years as a foreign correspondent in Europe, with postings in         
Vienna, London, Moscow, and Brussels (NATO Headquarters). In July 1961, he             
replaced Dave Garroway as host of The Today Show, a role he filled for fourteen         
months. At the 1964 Republican National Convention, he was arrested for refusing       
to cede his spot on the floor to "Goldwater Girls," supporters of the Republican       
presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. When security came to get him, he was         
forced to sign off: "I've been promised bail, ladies and gentlemen, by my office.       
This is John Chancellor, somewhere in custody." A number of critics at the time         
interpreted the incident as Chancellor basically picking a fight. He then               
became the director of the Voice of America in 1965, at the request of President       
Lyndon Johnson, a spot he held until 1967.                                             
However, he returned to NBC in 1968 and, two years later, became an anchor on           
the NBC Nightly News, a spot he held from 1970 to 1982; this job became the             
defining point of his career. Inaugurating the name and setting the pace of the         
format of Nightly News, from 1970 to 1971, Chancellor, along with David Brinkley       
and Frank McGee, was one of three anchors who rotated in a co-anchor duo format,       
held over from the old Huntley-Brinkley Report. From 1971 to 1976, Chancellor           
became the sole anchor, stationed at the New York City NBC headquarters, with           
Brinkley continuing to contribute pre-recorded commentaries about two to three         
times per week. Facing serious competition from ABC News, and continued                 
popularity of top-rated CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, NBC Nightly News         
returned to a co-anchor format from June 1976 until October 1979 with Brinkley         
resuming his old role at the NBC Washington desk; internal disputes within NBC         
management prompted the network to remove Brinkley from Nightly News, assigning         
him to occasional documentaries until his departure for ABC in 1981.                   
Although Chancellor was a respected, well-spoken journalist and noted author in         
his own right, his broadcast ratings were eclipsed by Walter Cronkite in the           
1970s, when CBS Evening News had become the most popular of the three network           
weeknight broadcasts. Toward the end of Chancellor's tenure, ABC, for the first         
time ever became competitive with NBC and CBS with its World News Tonight.             
He retired from his head anchor duties on April 2, 1982 and was succeeded by a         
co-anchor duo team of Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw for two years, before Brokaw           
became solo anchor and Mudd went on to host Meet the Press and NBC Almanac (a           
short-lived news magazine). Chancellor continued to write (most notably "Peril         
and Promise," published in 1991) and give editorial commentaries on Nightly News       
before retiring from NBC on July 9, 1993 and moving to New Jersey, where he died       
of stomach cancer in 1996, two days shy of his 69th birthday. Chancellor was           
married to the former Barbara Upshaw, his second wife; he had two daughters and         
a son.                                                                                 
Chancellor was also the voice of Baseball, an award winning documentary by Ken         
John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism