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ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies of cancer

(Posted August 8, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Peter Jennings, prime-time anchorman for ABC News whose career spanned five decades from the Cold War to the war on terrorism, has died of lung cancer, the network said. He was 67.

The Canadian-born Jennings, host of ABC's "World News Tonight" since 1983, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. The newsman announced in April he had lung cancer and was beginning chemotherapy.

Jennings was the last of a generation of long-serving lead anchors for major U.S. broadcasters.

"He was a superb writer," colleague Barbara Walters said in a special broadcast on ABC. She also recalled that "no one could ad-lib like Peter."

Jennings had a 41-year career with ABC, having joined the network in 1964. He soon went head-to-head with the toughest competition in the business, anchoring the prime-time news from 1965 to 1967 at a time when Walter Cronkite on CBS and the team of David Brinkley and Chet Huntley on NBC were dominant.

Jennings established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world in 1968, serving as ABC News' bureau chief for Beirut for seven years. He had a major role in the network's coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Israeli athletes were taken hostage.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Jennings anchored ABC broadcasts for more than 60 hours. The coverage garnered awards and critical acclaim. TV Guide called him "the center of gravity."

"For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him," ABC News President David Westin wrote in announcing Jennings' death to colleagues.


The Toronto-born newsman and high school dropout, who smoked when he was younger, stunned colleagues when he informed them of his illness in an e-mail on April 5. He said he would begin a program of chemotherapy the following week.

- By Cal Mankowski

Source: ABC News

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