Elizabeth Anne Vargas
September 6, 1962
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
|Education||University of Missouri|
|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. 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 past 14 years. She was previously an anchor of World News Tonight.
Early life and education
Vargas was born in Paterson, New Jersey, to a Puerto Rican father, Rafael "Ralf" Vargas, a colonel in the U.S. Army, and an Irish-American mother, Anne Vargas. She spent her youth moving from post to post in Germany and Belgium. Vargas graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she made her debut broadcast as a reporter/anchor for the school-owned NBC affiliate, KOMU-TV.
After college, Vargas worked for a short while in Reno at KTVN, before moving to a major market as a lead reporter for KTVK-TV in Phoenix. After three years there, she moved to Chicago and, while working at CBS-owned WBBM-TV, 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."
After four years at WBBM-TV, Vargas jumped to NBC News in 1993 as a correspondent for Dateline NBC and a substitute anchor for Today. In June 1996, she joined ABC's Good Morning America as the newsreader and Joan Lunden's likely "heir apparent". In June 1997, ABC promoted Vargas to primetime magazine show correspondent, succeeded by Kevin Newman as newsreader. In 2002, she was one of the anchors for 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 2009, Vargas hosted a special television event entitled "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas" that explored Elvis' triumph in Vegas and his artistic legacy, which featured performances and interviews with various stars, including Paul McCartney, Beyonce, Dwayne Johnson, Faith Hill, David Lynch, Jon Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, and Priscilla Presley. (Retrieved from 2009 DVD documentary "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas.") In a special edition of 20/20 that aired 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.
On December 22, 2017, Vargas announced she was leaving ABC News in May 2018. Her last day at ABC News was on May 25, 2018. She broadcast her first investigative documentary series on A&E, Cults & Extreme Belief, in May 2018. Vargas now hosts a series on A&E, Cults & Extreme Belief. Vargas and others interview former members of organizations considered cults, talking to them about how they became involved and their allegations of abuse. The series has talked to former members of NXIVM, Twelve Tribes, Unification Sanctuary Church, The Family International, Jehovah Witnesses and the United Nation of Islam.
After three years of dating, on July 20, 2002, Vargas married singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. They have two sons. 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.
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.
In 2016, Vargas wrote her memoir Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. It was published by Grand Central Publishing on 13 September and became an instant 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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- ABC News. "Charles Gibson Named Sole Anchor of 'World News Tonight'". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2006-05-23.
- "Charlie the Conqueror" Archived 2006-06-15 at the Wayback Machine. New York, June 19, 2006.
- "Elizabeth Vargas on Alcoholism, Anxiety & Forgiveness". Retrieved 2016-09-18.
- "Elizabeth Vargas is leaving ABC News". Page Six. 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
- "Cults and Extreme Belief Full Episodes, Video & More". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- "A&E's Cults and Extreme Belief Investigates Alleged Sex Cult NXIVM in Series Premiere". 4 May 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Brady, Lois Smith (28 July 2002). "WEDDINGS: VOWS; Elizabeth Vargas and Marc Cohn" – via NYTimes.com.
- ABC News. "20/20's Elizabeth Vargas Has Baby Boy". ABC News.
- "Elizabeth Vargas & husband Marc Cohn are divorcing - AOL.com". AOL. 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
- Duke, Alan (7 November 2013). "ABC's Elizabeth Vargas: 'I am dealing with addiction' to alcohol - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
- "ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas checks into rehab". NY Daily News. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
- "ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas returns to '20/20' after her second stint in rehab for alcohol addiction - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.
- 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.
- Vargas, Elizabeth (8 September 2016). "Battling Anxiety and Alcohol: How Meditation and Reaching Out to Others Saves Me". ABC News. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
This is called transcendental meditation, which is the kind I practice.
- Kim, Victoria (3 May 2016). "Russell Brand and Elizabeth Vargas Talk Addiction at Meditation Summit". Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 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.'
- Vargas, Elizabeth (September 2016). Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction. Grand Central. p. 257. ASIN B0169ATL3Q.
- Elizabeth Vargas on IMDb
- Elizabeth Vargas' Biography – ABC News
- Elizabeth Vargas on Twitter
- Elizabeth Vargas, ABC News Journalist – About.com profile
| ABC World News Tonight Co-Anchor with Bob Woodruff
January 3, 2006 – May 26, 2006
with John Stossel 2004–2009