Who Is Joan Lunden?
Journalist and television personality Joan Lunden was hired as a trainee for KCRA's news department in 1973 but quickly rose up the ranks. By 1975, she was a weather person, reporter and anchor for the station. That year, she took a job at WABC. In 1980, she joined Good Morning America as a host, where she would remain for the next two decades.
Lunden was born Joan Elise Blunden on September 19, 1950, in Fair Oaks, California. Growing up in Sacramento, Lunden lost her father, a surgeon and pilot, in a plane crash when she was only 13 years old.
Lunden started at the ground level in the news business. She was hired as a trainee for KCRA's news department in 1973, and by 1975, Lunden was a weather person, reporter, and anchor for the station. That year, she left her native California for New York City to take a job at WABC. An article in People magazine said that Lunden was very inexperienced when she arrived and it showed in her reporting. "Her name was changed from Blunden to avoid being called 'Blunder,'" the article stated. While it was not the smoothest transition, Lunden eventually found her way and even began contributing consumer reports to ABC's national program, Good Morning America.
In 1980, Lunden joined Good Morning America full-time as a host, with David Hartman serving the main host for the show. Lunden and her husband, producer Michael Krauss, were also expecting their first child when she took the job at GMA. She helped break new ground by talking openly on air about her pregnancy and did many segments on parenting. For years, Lunden played second fiddle to Hartman who handled most of the serious news pieces. Despite sometimes being seen as merely an attractive sidekick, she was able to cover some major news events, such as Prince Charles's wedding to Lady Diana in 1982 and the 1984 Winter Olympics. With her ever increasing popularity, Lunden eventually negotiated a better contract to be on more even footing with Hartman.
Despite a hectic schedule that usually involved getting to the studio extremely early in the morning, Lunden found time for other projects. She wrote her autobiography, I'm Joan Lunden, Good Morning, in 1986, in which she shared some of the challenges she faced as a female journalist. That same year, she tackled a subject she knew well—motherhood—in Joan Lunden's Mothers Minutes, which was also the name of a special segment she did on television. Lunden followed up this title with an infant care book, Your Newborn Baby: Everything You Need to Know (1988).
After Hartman retired in 1987, Charles Gibson was brought on board as Lunden's new co-host on GMA. The audience loved the pair and the show became the one to beat in the morning rating race against NBC's The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley. Outside of GMA, Lunden continued to work on a number of projects, including a short-lived syndicated show, Everyday with Joan Lunden, which was produced by her husband.
Near the end of her tenure with GMA, Lunden went through some personal changes. She lost a lot of weight and wrote two health books, Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking (1996) and Joan Lunden's Healthy Living: A Practical, Inspirational Guide to Creating Balance in Your Life (1997). On a more private note, she and her husband of 13 years announced their separation in February 1997. The divorce eventually turned bitter over Krauss's request for alimony from Lunden who was making around $2 million per year at the time.
While the news of her divorce may have surprised viewers, they were even more dismayed by the official announcement about her departure from GMA in June 1997. After leaving the show that September, she continued to work in television, creating a new series called Behind Closed Doors with Joan Lunden. During the show's run, she explored such places as the gold vaults of the U.S. Treasury and the warehouses of the famed Smithsonian Institution. She also explored personal transitions, change, and opportunity in the book, A Bend in the Road Is Not The End of the Road (1998).
In 2000, Lunden married summer camp owner, Jeff Konigsberg, who was roughly a decade her junior. Three years later, the couple welcomed twins, Kate and Max, through a surrogate mother, Deborah Bolig. Using the same surrogate, their family grew to include another set of twins, Jack and Kimberly, in 2005.
Tackling motherhood in her fifties, Lunden answered critics about being an older mother in a Good Housekeeping article. She compared caring for the twins with her experiences with her daughter Sarah who she had at age 37. "Back then, I weighed about 40 pounds more. I didn't work out regularly. I didn't eat properly ... I honestly feel like I'm in the best shape of my life."
Continuing with her interest in health and parenting, Lunden authored Growing Up Healthy: Protecting Your Child From Diseases Now Through Adulthood (2004). Back on television, she hosted the reality show Wickedly Perfect in 2005. That same year, Lunden made a cameo appearance in the comedy film Thank You for Smoking. In addition to writing and television work, she is a popular public speaker.
In June 2014, Lunden revealed that she had breast cancer. She shared her medical condition with fans on her website, explaining that "I consider myself fortunate that I found this in the early stages." Lunden also wrote that her "prognosis is so promising." The cancer was discovered when she had an ultrasound and her treatment plan included chemotherapy and surgery.
Lunden lives in Connecticut with her second husband and their four children. She has three daughters, Jamie, Lindsay and Sarah, from her first marriage.
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