Peter Jennings Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Born as Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, he as a Canadian-American columnist. He took up employment as a sole anchor with ABC World News Tonight and served them for 22 years until his demise.
Peter Jennings was born to the couple Elizabeth (nee Osborne) and Charles Jennings on July 29, 1938. He was born in Toronto, Ontario. His father worked as radio anchor with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Jennings had a sister Sarah.
Peter Jennings commenced his studies at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. He shined in sports. Charles Jennings came to Ottawa, and little Jennings had to enroll in Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Jennings did not come up in studies and could not get the required grade for 10th grade and discontinued his studies. He attended Carleton University and the University of Ottawa for a short duration.
The first aspiration of Peter Jennings was to become a broadcaster as was his father. He accepted the duties of a bank teller in Royal Bank of Canada. He featured in many non-professional musicals with the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society and the likes.
When he was working with the RBC in Brockville, Jennings tried and rose in broadcasting. A local radio station, CFJR appointed him in its news section in 1959. Jennings covered train accidents, stories, etc.
In 1961, he joined the newly started television station in Ottawa as an interviewer and co-producer for Vue, a night news broadcast. He was soon elevated to entertain Club Thirteen, a dance show.
In 1962, Jennings joined the CTV, Canada’s private television group as an Anchor for a late-night news broadcast. He arrived at Dallas on hearing the reported news of the assassination of JFK. He was the first Canadian journalist to reach Dallas.
In 1964, he covered the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was here that he came in contact with Elmer Lower, president of ABC. Elmer offered Jennings the assignment of a journalist in ABC. Jennings accepted the job and shifted to the United States. In 1965, he started anchoring ‘With the News’ a 15-minute night news broadcast.
The criticism about his work was not good, and Jennings left the ABC after three years.
Peter Jennings started his career in 1968 as an overseas correspondent from the Middle East. Here he founded the ABC’s Middle East department in Beirut, Lebanon. He became an expert in Middle East Affairs. Jennings anchored the interview with Yasser Arafat, Chairman, Palestine Liberation Organization.
In 1972, he published the exciting News coverage of the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli sportspersons. He provided ABC video of the Israeli sportsmen in captive. He reported Yom Kippur War and was Chief correspondent and producer of Sadat: Action Biography.
Peter Jennings returned to the US in 1974 to accept an assignment as a reporter of Washington and commentator of ABC’s AM America. The AM America did not fare well. It was closed down.
He continued to work as overseas correspondent of ABC. In 1978 he interviewed exiled Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran in Paris.
In 1978, the premiere of World News Tonight was held with Frank Reynolds in Washington, Max Robinson in Chicago and Jennings in London. He continued reporting on the Iranian Revolution, a hostage crisis, the murder of Sadat, and many other important events.
In 1983, Peter Jennings returned to Washington to fill the vacuum created by the death of Reynolds. The same year Jennings signed an agreement to work for ABC from New York as an anchor for World News Tonight. He continued anchoring programs from 1983 onwards. He worked with ABC for 22 years till his death in 2005.
Peter Jennings briefly dated with Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian activist and a student in literature at the American University in Beirut. His first wife was Valerie Godsoe, a childhood friend.
In 1973, Jennings married Anouchka Malouf, a Lebanese photographer. In 1979 he married Kati Marton, ABC’s correspondent. They had two children – Elizabeth (1979) and Christopher (1982). They divorced in 1993. Jennings married Kayce Freed in 1997. She stayed with him till the death of Jennings in 2005.
Peter Jennings had lung cancer. He died on August 7, 2005. George W.Bush, President, US and Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada expressed they're sorry on the passing away of Jennings.
The ABC on 10th August 2005, broadcast a special programme for 2 hours entitled Peter Jennings: Reporter. Nearly nine million people watched the program.
He left an estate of $50 million. Jennings, widow, Kayce Freed inherited half and the other half to son and daughter.
Kayce and Lynn Sherr (ABC colleague) published a book entitled Peter Jennings: A Reporter’s Life in 2007.
Publications and Books
Jennings has written three articles and published two books with Todd Brewster.
Peter Jennings has achieved many honors. 16 Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards. His anchor of World News Tonight and Peter Jennings Reporting achieved successfully Overseas Press Club and duPont-Columbia awards.
He achieved the“Best Anchor” in 1988-1992, Paul White Award (1995), Edward R. Murrow Award (2004). Order of Canada (2005).
A road dedicated after Peter Jennings in Manhattan (2006), Disney Legend (2006) and inducted into Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Television Hall of Fame (2011).