AKA Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Location of death: Manhattan, NY
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered at his farm, Quebec, Canada)
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Former anchor, ABC World News Tonight
At age nine, Peter Jennings was the anchorboy of Peter's People, a Saturday morning newscast for children on Canadian radio. He got the job because his father, Charles Jennings, was the network's leading newsman, still remembered as Canada's answer to Edward R. Murrow. Young Jennings later dropped out of high school (a mistake of much regret), then worked as a bank teller for several years, before starting as a disc-jockey and newsman for an Ontario radio station. His coverage of a train wreck caught executives' attention at CTV, then Canada's only commercial television network. They hired Jennings, and he eventually was named to co-anchor CTV's first nightly newscast. ABC executives saw him and offered him a position at their network, then in last place.
After several years reporting for ABC, Jennings anchored the network's nightly newscast from 1965-68, when he was deemed gravitas-challenged against his much older rivals, Walter Cronkite on CBS and Huntley-Brinkley on NBC. Jennings returned to reporting, and garnered good notices for his work in the Middle East. Opening a bureau in Lebanon, the first such in the entire Arab world, brought unjust criticism that he was "anti-Israeli". Jennings snagged the first interview with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, and accompanied the Imam on his triumphant return to Tehran after the Shah of Iran fled the country. In 1978, ABC tried having three men share anchor duties, and Jennings was sandwiched between Max Robinson and Frank Reynolds. When Reynolds died of cancer in 1983, Jennings again became sole anchor.
He became an American citizen in May 2003, retaining also his Canadian citizenship. Cynics have suggested it was a shrewd move to counter criticism from American conservatives of his "liberal, Canadian" reporting. ABC received thousands of complaints after Toby Keith's in-your-face patriotic song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" was nixed from Jennings-anchored Independence Day coverage in 2002. Keith complained loudly that an American like Dan Rather would've let him sing, and many people were offended enough to send Jennings "bus fare home to Canada." But Jennings says the citizenship switch was brought on by the terrorist attacks of September 11 -- in the aftermath, he decided he was an American at heart.
In March 2005 Jennings was diagnosed with lung cancer, almost certainly resulting from a heavy smoking habit which he ceased in the 1980s. After the September 11 attacks he resumed smoking. His death in August 2005, along with the recent retirements of anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, effectively ended an era of broadcast news.
Father: Charles Jennings (CBC radio newscaster)
Mother: Elizabeth Jennings (d. 1992)
Sister: Sarah Jennings
Wife: Valerie Godsoe (div.)
Wife: Anouchka Malouf ("Annie", div.)
Wife: Kati Marton (m. 1979, div. 1993, one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Elizabeth (b. 1980)
Son: Christopher (b. 1982)
Wife: Kayce Freed (m. 6-Dec-1997)
Girlfriend: Barbra Streisand (1990s, reportedly)
Girlfriend: Hanan Ashrawi (1970s)
High School: Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada (dropped out)
University: Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
University: Rider College, Trenton, NJ
Naturalized US Citizen 30-May-2003
Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame
Polk Award 1990
Wedding: George Stephanopoulos and Alexandra Wentworth (2001)
Risk Factors: Former Smoker, Lung Cancer
World News Tonight Anchor 1978-2005
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
An Unlikely Weapon (18-Feb-2008) · Himself
The Last Party (27-Aug-1993) · Himself
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