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A respected television journalist, Peter Jennings served as ABC's nightly news anchor from 1983 to 2005.
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Peter Jennings was born on July 29, 1938. He dropped out of high school and eventually worked in radio and television news. In 1964, Jennings was hired by ABC News and became the youngest U.S. news anchor the following year. He then served as a foreign correspondent until joining World News Tonight in 1978. From 1983 until his death in 2005, Jennings served as the show's sole news anchor.
Journalist. Born July 29, 1938 in Toronto, Canada. Peter Jennings was the eldest of two children born to Elizabeth Osborne and Charles Jennings, a broadcast journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Peter, following in his father's footsteps, made his broadcast debut at the age of 9, hosting his own show, Peter's People (also called Peter's Program) on Canadian radio.
Jennings dropped out of high school at the age of 17, and by his early 20s he was back on the air hosting a Canadian music program called Club Thirteen. In 1962, when he was just 24, Jennings was named a co-anchor of the national news broadcast on CTV, placing him in direct competition with his father's network. He held the job for two years before moving to the United States and joining ABC News in 1964. Jennings' classic good looks and reassuring presence made him a natural pick for the anchor's chair, even though he preferred reporting in the field. In 1965, ABC made him the anchor of the program Peter Jennings with the News, which ran opposite the shows of venerable newsmen like Walter Cronkite on CBS and David Brinkley on NBC. Jennings lasted for two years in the role before quitting to become a foreign correspondent for the network. In 1968, he set up the network's bureau in Beirut, the first American television news bureau in the Arab world.
After seven years as Beirut bureau chief, Jennings moved back to Washington to host the morning program A.M. America. But the allure of reporting from the field soon proved, yet again, too much for Jennings to stick in his studio hosting role. Jennings moved first to Rome and then to London as ABC's Chief Foreign Correspondent. In 1978, he was named the foreign desk anchor for World News Tonight. When his co-anchor Frank Reynolds died in 1983, Jennings was named the sole anchor and senior editor of World News Tonight. He held that position for the next 22 years, becoming one of the most familiar and trusted faces on American television.
Looking back on his career, it seems that there were few historic events in the latter half of the 20th century for which Jennings was not present. At one time or another, he reported from all 50 American states. He was in Berlin for both the building of the Berlin Wall in the 1960s and its fall in 1989. He reported on the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, was one of the first journalists to report from Vietnam in the 1960s, covered the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, and reported from South Africa as apartheid ended in 1994. He spent 25 consecutive hours live on the air for ABC's coverage of the millennium, and anchored more than 60 hours in the week following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
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