Peter Jennings is Born
Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, CM (July 29, 1938 – August 7, 2005) was a Canadian-American journalist and news anchor.
He was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. A high-school dropout, he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists.
Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at the age of nine. In 1965, ABC News tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. His inexperience marred his first short stint in the anchor chair, and Jennings became a foreign correspondent in 1968, honing his reporting skills in the Middle East.
He returned as one of World News Tonight's three anchors in 1978, and was promoted to the role of sole anchor in 1983. Jennings formed part of the "Big Three" news anchors who dominated American evening news in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to anchoring, Jennings hosted several news specials and moderated presidential debates. Having always been fascinated with the United States, Jennings became a naturalized United States citizen in 2003. His death, which closely followed the retirements of colleagues Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, marked the end of the "Big Three" era.
Jennings started reporting for ABC at its New York news bureau. At the time, ABC lagged behind the more established news divisions of NBC and CBS, and the network was trying to attract younger viewers. On February 1, 1965, ABC plucked the fresh-faced Canadian from the field and placed him at the anchor desk of Peter Jennings With the News, then a 15-minute nightly newscast. He replaced Ron Cochran, a fellow Canadian. At 26, Jennings was, and remains, the youngest-ever U.S. network news anchor. "ABC was in bad shape at the time," Jennings said. "They were willing to try anything, and, to demonstrate the point, they tried me."
In April 1983, Reynolds became ill, leaving both Jennings and Robinson to co-anchor the broadcast until he planned to return; he never did and died from bone cancer on July 20, 1983. A rotation of anchors hosted the program until August 9, 1983, when Jennings became the sole anchor and senior editor of World News Tonight. The program began emanating from New York City on a regular basis in September 1983 at which time Bill Owen replaced Bill Rice as announcer for a year.
In September 1984, the program was renamed World News Tonight with Peter Jennings in order to reflect its sole anchor and senior editor. Robinson left ABC News in 1984, after stints of hosting news briefs and anchoring weekend editions of World News Tonight; he died from complications of AIDS in 1988.