Elizabeth Anne Vargas
September 6, 1962
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
|Education||University of Missouri|
|Known for||Co-anchor of ABC World News Tonight|
Co-anchor for 20/20
Host of America's Most Wanted (2021)
|Spouse(s)||Marc Cohn (2002–2014)|
Elizabeth Anne Vargas (born September 6, 1962) is an American television journalist who is the lead investigative reporter/documentary anchor for A&E Networks, and the host for Fox's revival of America's Most Wanted. She began her new position on May 28, 2018, after being an anchor of ABC's television newsmagazine 20/20 and ABC News specials for the previous 14 years. In 2006 Vargas was co-anchor of World News Tonight alongside ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff.
Early life and education
Elizabeth Anne Vargas was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the daughter of an Italian-Spanish father, Rafael "Ralf" Vargas, a colonel in the U.S. Army from Puerto Rico, and an Irish-American mother, Anne Vargas, a part-time English teacher. She has two siblings, Amy and Christopher, who both work in tech in Silicon Valley. Her father was a U.S. army captain and moved the family to Okinawa when she was four years old. Vargas then spent much of her youth moving from post to post in Germany, Belgium, and the United States. Vargas graduated from an American high school in Heidelberg, where she realized her passion for journalism.
Vargas enrolled at the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1980 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1984, having served as a student reporter at KOMU-TV and a student editor at KBIA. Former advisors spoke well of her competency in her journalism work on campus; Rod Gelatt, former KOMU news director, noted that she was the first student to ever fill-in for him as moderator of the station's "Missouri Forum" public affairs program and Kent Collins, chairman of the university's journalism faculty, remembered her aggressive and energetic work ethic.
1984–1993: Career beginnings
After college, Vargas worked at Reno's CBS affiliate KTVN, before moving to Phoenix as a lead reporter for then-ABC affiliate KTVK-TV. After three years there, she moved to Chicago to work at CBS station WBBM-TV, where Phyllis McGrady, a senior vice president at ABC, said of her: "Elizabeth is one of the most flexible talents I've ever worked with. She could do interviews, and do hour-long specials that make you think, and then she'll do a great interview with P. Diddy. She is versatile." Vargas left WBBM-TV in 1993.
1993–1996: NBC News
In 1993, Vargas joined NBC News as a correspondent for Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric. She later became a correspondent mainly for Dateline NBC, and also served as a substitute anchor for Today and the weekend editions of NBC Nightly News.
1996–2018: ABC News
In June 1996, she joined ABC News' Good Morning America as the newsreader and Joan Lunden's likely "heir apparent". In June 1997, ABC promoted Vargas to prime time magazine show correspondent, succeeded by Kevin Newman as newsreader. In 2002, she became one of the anchors of 20/20 Downtown, which was later rebranded Downtown before being rebranded again in 2003 as Primetime Monday before its end. She later reported occasionally for Primetime. She was also named anchor of World News Tonight Saturday and presented with the opportunity to develop specials for Primetime. In November 2003, Vargas became anchor of World News Tonight Sunday. She was named co-anchor of 20/20 in May 2004.
Vargas was the first national evening news anchor of Puerto Rican and Irish-American heritage and also the third female anchor of a network evening newscast in the U.S. since Connie Chung and Barbara Walters. She is said to be particularly proud of an ABC special report in which she questioned why the Laci Peterson case merited more attention than two other similar cases, one involving a black woman and the other involving a Hispanic woman. Another story she did, based on the book The Da Vinci Code and the role of Mary Magdalene, helped fuel a nationwide religious debate. Vargas stated that for centuries Mary Magdalene has been portrayed as a prostitute by the church despite evidence to the contrary. She went on to question the strictly limited role of women within the church. In 1999, she won an Emmy Award for her coverage of the Elián González story, and in 1998 she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her 20/20 investigation into the wrongful conviction of Betty Tyson.
In April 2005, Vargas and Charles Gibson temporarily filled in for Peter Jennings, who was receiving chemotherapy for his lung cancer, on World News Tonight until Jennings's death in August. After a period of mourning and indecision, she and Bob Woodruff were chosen as co-anchors on December 5, 2005. She anchored many broadcasts alone after Bob Woodruff's injury in Iraq in January 2006. She also co-anchored World News Tonight with either Charles Gibson or Diane Sawyer.
On May 23, 2006, Vargas announced her resignation from World News Tonight. Gibson was then named sole anchor of the show, effective from May 29, 2006, replacing Vargas and Woodruff. To explain the sudden change, Vargas cited her doctors' recommendation to cut back her schedule considerably owing to a difficult pregnancy and her wish to spend more time with her new baby when he arrived. Most "inside accounts", however, said she fully expected and wished to return to the anchor chair soon after giving birth, but Gibson threatened to quit ABC News if he was not made sole permanent anchor. According to these sources, his gambit succeeded and she was left embittered, although not enough to sever ties with the network. In late 2006, Vargas returned as co-anchor of 20/20 and primary host of ABC News specials. In 2008, Vargas hosted "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas," a television documentary that explored Elvis' triumph in Las Vegas and his artistic legacy, and featured performances and interviews with various stars, including Paul McCartney, Beyoncé, Dwayne Johnson, Faith Hill, David Lynch, Jon Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, and Priscilla Presley.
In a special edition of 20/20 that aired on September 9, 2016, Vargas opened up about her struggles with anxiety and alcoholism and further talked about her upcoming book Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, which discusses those struggles. In October 2016, she appeared in an episode of ABC's Designated Survivor.
2018–present: A&E Investigates and America's Most Wanted
In April 2018, A&E Originals signed Vargas to a first-look and production deal. Vargas would serve as anchor of its A&E Investigates, its banner for new non-fiction prime time journalism programming. She broadcast her first A&E Investigates series on A&E, Cults & Extreme Belief, in May 2018. The Untold Story, a series focusing on the untold stories of influential people and events, premiered in April 2019. In January 2021, it was confirmed that Vargas would host a revival of America's Most Wanted on Fox, which premiered on March 15, 2021.
Vargas is now the anchor of News Cafe on A&E's FYI Network.
On July 20, 2002, Vargas married singer-songwriter Marc Cohn after three years of dating. They have two sons, Zach and Sam. Vargas also has two stepchildren, Max and Emily, from Cohn's first marriage. In August 2014, Entertainment Tonight reported that Vargas and Cohn were divorcing after 12 years of marriage.
Vargas' battle with alcohol stemmed from her anxiety rooted in her childhood after witnessing her father join the Vietnam War and subsequently suffering daily panic attacks; her anxiety only intensified throughout her life after she was told early on that it would be in her best interest to hide her anxiety to avoid appearing weak. Her struggle culminated during a family vacation in 2012 when she realized she needed help. After seeking treatment in Utah and departing prematurely, she eventually relapsed. On November 6, 2013, ABC confirmed a New York Daily News story that Vargas was undergoing treatment for alcoholism. "I am dealing with addiction," Vargas said. After her second rehab admission, on January 24, 2014, Vargas described herself as an alcoholic. Vargas underwent rehabilitation for alcoholism in 2014 for a third time shortly before she and Marc Cohn divorced. In 2018, NBC News reported that Vargas had been sober since 2014.
In 2016, Vargas wrote a memoir, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. It was published by Grand Central Publishing on September 13 and became an instant The New York Times and USA Today best-seller.
- Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction; by: Elizabeth Vargas; Publisher: Grand Central; ASIN=B0169ATL3Q.
- History of women in Puerto Rico
- Irish immigration to Puerto Rico
- List of Americans of Irish descent
- List of Puerto Ricans
- New Yorkers in journalism
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- "A&E's Cults and Extreme Belief Investigates Alleged Sex Cult NXIVM in Series Premiere". May 4, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- "A&E Network to Premiere Original Nonfiction Series "The Untold Story" Featuring Award-Winning Journalist Elizabeth Vargas on April 11". A&E. A+E Networks. March 21, 2019. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
- Nellie Andreeva (January 22, 2021). "America's Most Wanted Returns To Fox With Elizabeth Vargas As Host". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
- Brady, Lois Smith (July 28, 2002). "WEDDINGS: VOWS; Elizabeth Vargas and Marc Cohn". The New York Times.
- ABC News. "20/20's Elizabeth Vargas Has Baby Boy". ABC News.
- Strohm, Emily (June 15, 2018). "Elizabeth Vargas Opens Up About Being a Single Mom: 'My Kids Are My First Priority'". People. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
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- Vargas, Elizabeth (September 8, 2016). "Battling Anxiety and Alcohol: How Meditation and Reaching Out to Others Saves Me". ABC News. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
This is called transcendental meditation, which is the kind I practice.
- Kim, Victoria (May 3, 2016). "Russell Brand and Elizabeth Vargas Talk Addiction at Meditation Summit". Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
Vargas has been practicing TM for about a year now. When she got back from rehab in 2014, fellow ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos encouraged her to try the technique. A year later, she says her anxiety 'is a lot less than it used to be.'
- Brzezinski, Ginny (December 12, 2018). "Elizabeth Vargas opens up about her recovery from alcohol addiction". NBC News. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
- Duke, Alan (November 7, 2013). "ABC's Elizabeth Vargas: 'I am dealing with addiction' to alcohol - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
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- ABC News. "Entertainment News, Celebrity and Pop Culture – ABC News". ABC News.
- "Elizabeth Vargas: 'My Husband said, You Have a Problem. You're an Alcoholic'". mediabistro.com.
- Struhm, Emily (September 8, 2016). "Elizabeth Vargas on 'Brutally Difficult' Split from Her Husband Marc Cohn Days After Leaving Rehab". People.com. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- Vargas, Elizabeth (September 2016). Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. Grand Central. p. 257. ASIN B0169ATL3Q.