Dorothy Fuldheim

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Dorothy Fuldheim
Dorothy Fuldheim picture.jpg
Born Dorothy Violet Snell
(1893-06-26)26 June 1893
Passaic, New Jersey
Died 3 November 1989(1989-11-03) (aged 96)
Cleveland, Ohio
Occupation journalist, newscaster, news commentator and interviewer
Employer WEWS-TV (1947–1984)
Known for first prominent American female journalist, radio/television newscaster and commentator

Dorothy Fuldheim (June 26, 1893 – November 3, 1989) was an American journalist and anchor, spending the majority of her career for The Cleveland Press and WEWS-TV, both based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Fuldheim has a role in American television news history; she is credited with being the first woman in the United States to anchor a television news broadcast as well to host her own television show. She has been referred to as the "First Lady of Television News." [1]

Early life and early career[edit]

Cleveland Press courtesy of ClevelandSGS graphic of Dorothy Fuldheim from 1929

Fuldheim, an American of Jewish descent, was born in Passaic, New Jersey. She spent her childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to working in broadcasting, she was an elementary schoolteacher.

During the 1920s, after her first marriage, Fuldheim moved to Cleveland, Ohio where she began her theatrical, lecturing and broadcasting careers. She started in radio hosting a biography program for WTAM, and eventually the ABC Radio network, where she was their first female commentator.[2] Fuldheim was then approached by a representative from Scripps-Howard-flagship The Cleveland Press about taking a role in journalism. Despite a lack of experience in the field, Fuldheim soon traveled around the world, even conducting rare interviews with both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler prior to World War II.[2]

Television career[edit]

Fuldheim began her television career at age 54 when she joined the staff of WEWS-TV Channel 5 in Cleveland, also owned by Scripps-Howard, in 1947. At that time, it was the only television station between New York and Chicago. Despite spending her entire broadcasting career based in Cleveland, she traveled widely to cover a variety of news stories, and was regarded as a broadcaster of national importance.

In 1959, Fuldheim, who had been with the station before it even went on air, began to formulate her own newscast in response to the new "Eyewitness News" on KYW, which was the first half-hour newscast in the country. Fuldheim centered her newscast around her interviews, a general overview of the news, and her commentaries (during which the very opinionated Fuldheim frequently inserted her own opinions about the stories). Fuldheim was the first woman in the United States to have her own television news analysis program.

While the format of her show, "Highlights of the News", consisted primarily of news analysis, it also included commentary, book reviews and interviews. In the years that "Highlights of the News" aired, Fuldheim interviewed a number of diverse notable persons including the Duke of Windsor, Helen Keller, Barbara Walters and Martin Luther King Jr. She also interviewed several 20th century American presidents.

Dorothy Fuldheim with Bill Gordon on the set of "The One O'Clock Club"

In the 1960s, Fuldheim teamed with Cleveland radio personality Bill Gordon to host "The One O'Clock Club" on WEWS, a mix of entertainment, news, and interviews. This show eventually inspired KYW to launch a similar show hosted by Mike Douglas that eventually eclipsed "The One O' Clock Club" in popularity en route to becoming nationally syndicated. At this same time, Fuldheim was also frequently lampooned and skewered on WJW-TV's Shock Theater with Ghoulardi.

Fuldheim, recognizable for her fiery red hair, was well known for her sometimes controversial opinions. She was not shy about supporting unpopular causes, nor in voicing her opposition if she disagreed with a guest. On one program, she interviewed 1960s activist Jerry Rubin about his book Do It. In the interview, Jerry Rubin started to quiz Fuldheim, asking her if she drank. Fuldheim said, "I have the damn best liver in Cleveland." He then took a picture of a nude woman and showed it to her. Fuldheim responded by asking Rubin, "How is [the photo] germane to the topic?" He then referred to the police as "pigs" and offended Fuldheim, who replied, "I've got a shock for you. Some of my friends are policemen". Rubin then muttered "Well, I've got a shock for you. I'm good friends with the Black Panthers." At which, Fuldheim threw his book and kicked Rubin off the set saying "Out! Stop the interview" as the cameras rolled.[3] [1]

At times, Fuldheim could offend some members of her audience. A month after ejecting Rubin from her television show, she found herself in the controversial hotseat. On May 4, 1970 while live on the air, Fuldheim made the following statement regarding the actions of the Ohio National Guard during the Kent State shootings, "What is wrong with our country? "We're killing our own children."[4] Due to her reference to the shooting of the four students as murder, there were numerous calls from viewers for Fuldheim to resign from her position at WEWS. However, she had the backing of station management and did not resign.[3]

In 1980, Fuldheim was inducted in the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame[5] and went on to cover major 1980s events: She traveled to London to cover the 1981 royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, the funeral of assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and to Northern Ireland to interview the family of IRA activist/hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Death and posthumous recognition[edit]

Dorothy Fuldheim (center) with the WEWS news team in the early 1980s

Fuldheim's long and distinguished career - where, at age 91, she still conducted interviews and read commentaries on-air three times every day - ended when she suffered a stroke on July 27, 1984, shortly after interviewing U.S. President Ronald Reagan via satellite. The station received so many phone calls from viewers asking about her condition that an automated answering machine service was set up, devoted to providing updates about her health.[6] She never again appeared on television and died in Cleveland five years later at the age of 96.[2]

In 2003, Fuldheim was posthumously awarded an Ohio Historical Marker for her contributions to journalism, which is displayed in front of the WEWS studios.[7][8] [9]

Famous quotes[edit]

  • "This is a youth-oriented society, and the joke is on them because youth is a disease from which we all recover." [10]
  • "It takes a disciplined person to listen to convictions which are different from their own."[citation needed]
  • "Every American carries in his bloodstream the heritage of the malcontent and the dreamer."[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Patricia M. Mote (1997). Dorothy Fuldheim: First First Lady of Television News. Quixote Publications. ISBN 0-9633083-5-1. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dorothy Fuldheim, 96, A News Commentator". The New York Times. Associated Press. 4 November 1989. p. 10. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b O'Dell, Cary (1997). Women Pioneers in Television: Biographies of Fifteen Industry Leaders. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-0167-2. OCLC 35646616. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Gregorino, Tony Ryan (15 August 1997). "Doyenne of TV news "returns": Program celebrates the legendary late broadcaster Dorothy Fuldheim". Sun News (Cleveland, Ohio). Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ohio Women's Hall of Fame Bio: Dorothy Fuldheim". Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Barron, James (29 August 1984). "The Talk of Cleveland; Trying to Select an Image for a City Whose Mayor Once Set His Hair Afire". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Shaw, Judy (12 September 2007). "Dorothy Fuldheim Honored with Ohio Historical Marker". NewsNet5 (E.W. Scripps Co.). Retrieved 1 August 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ https://secure.flickr.com/photos/cbustapeck/3437445481/in/photostream/
  9. ^ https://secure.flickr.com/photos/cbustapeck/3437445915/in/photostream/
  10. ^ Famous Quotes and Authors - Dorothy Fuldheim Quotes

External links[edit]