Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009) is best remembered as the anchorman for The CBS Evening News
from 1962 to 1981. During that time, he was the man America turned to for the news of some of the most important news stories in the history of the country. At the peak of his popularity, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" (and even today, years after his death, he still
appears in the top ten listing of individuals whom the people trust the most).
The stories on which he reported truly shaped modern America: first-person accounts of Allied bombing runs over Germany in World War II
, the Nuremberg trials, front-line combat in the Vietnam War
, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy
and Martin Luther King, Jr, the Watergate scandal and the subsequent resignation of Richard Nixon
, and the Iran Hostage Crisis. His reporting on the U.S. space program, from Project Mercury to the Moon landings to the Space Shuttle, earned him the Moon Rock Award (the only recipient who was not a member of NASA). The Lyndon Johnson quote above was in response to an op/ed piece he did on the pointlessness of the Vietnam War after personally touring the American lines, which did indeed turn a lot of people against the war.
Cronkite was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, but grew up in Houston, Texas. He graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas (where he was a member of the Chi Phi fraternity, along with his good friend, actor Eli Wallach
). He met his wife, Mary, in 1940, and the two were together until her death in 2005. He retired from CBS news in 1981, and afterward was a part-time actor, a sailor (he favored sailboats), a voice-over artist (We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
, Libertys Kids
), and a political activist (he was a confirmed liberal, and supported many humanitarian causes worldwide). He loved music and reading, and was a wargamer (he enjoyed Axis and Allies
Cronkite ended every one of his news broadcasts with his Signing Off Catch Phrase
, "And that's the way it is..." followed by the date on which the appearance was aired. He died of cerebrovascular disease in 2009 at age 92, still atop the list of most trusted people in America.
Tropes exhibited by Walter Cronkite:
- As Himself: Provided the opening narration to Apollo13 to set the stage. Director Ron Howard noted that Cronkite rewrote the script's original wording to put it in "Cronkitese".
- Glasses Pull:
- Go to the video streaming service of your choice, and watch Cronkite take off his glasses as he announces official word of the death of John F. Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963.
- He did this again, in a far happier moment, when broadcasting the moon landing in 1969.
- Manly Tears: Barely averted, as he is shown trying to hide his tears when he gives the official word that President Kennedy had died. The moment is iconic in television.