AKA Edwin Harold Newman
Birthplace: New York City
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Journalist and commentator for NBC News
Military service: US Navy (1942-45)
Edwin Newman was a plump, somewhat rumpled TV newsman remembered for his folksy, "tough but fair" demeanor. He was also a syndicated columnist, and the author of Strictly Speaking and A Civil Tongue, books prescribing "correct" use of the English language. Newman was a stickler for good grammar, and an expert on the subject: He once headed the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.
Newman was hired as a reporter by NBC News in 1952, and spent his entire career at that network. On 22 November 1963, he interrupted NBC's regular programming to report that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. In 1965, he narrated a solemn NBC News documentary on the great demand but short supply of kidney dialysis, which proved instrumental in motivating research that led to smaller, portable dialysis machines.
Interviewing Elia Kazan in 1972, he asked whether Kazan had any regrets about identifying seven former members of the Communist Party, thereby ruining their careers, in his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities twenty years earlier; Kazan offered no regrets or apologies. Newman was the moderator for the first televised debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976, and for the second debate between Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan in 1984. Later that year Newman retired from NBC.
He played himself in politically-themed movies like The Pelican Brief and My Fellow Americans, and on Newhart, Murphy Brown, and The Golden Girls. Newman even hosted Saturday Night Live once, in 1984. In one sketch he worked a suicide hotline but corrected a caller's grammar, in another he sprayed an NBC executive with seltzer, and sang to his NBC News colleagues, "Please don't talk about me when I'm gone."
Father: Myron Newman
Mother: Rose Parker
Brother: Morton W. Newman (reporter, Chicago Sun-Times, d. 2001)
Wife: Rigel Grell (m. 14-Aug-1944, one daughter)
High School: George Washington High School, Manhattan, NY (1936)
University: BA Political Science, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1940)
University: Louisiana State University (one semester)
NBC Nightly News (1952-84)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
From the Earth to the Moon (5-Apr-1998) · Himself
My Fellow Americans (20-Dec-1996) · Himself
The Pelican Brief (17-Dec-1993) · Himself
Spies Like Us (6-Dec-1985) · Himself
Author of books:
Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English? (1974, language)
A Civil Tongue (1975, language)
I Must Say (1989, language)
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