Frank Blair (journalist)

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Frank Blair
Today show 1961.JPG
John Chancellor, Blair and Edwin Newman on the Today Show set in 1961
Born Frank S. Blair, Jr.
(1915-05-30)May 30, 1915
Yemassee, South Carolina, U.S.
Died March 14, 1995(1995-03-14) (aged 79)
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, U.S.
Nationality American
Education College of Charleston
Occupation Newscaster, journalist, author
Spouse(s) Lillian
Children eight

Frank S. Blair, Jr. (May 30, 1915 – March 14, 1995) was a broadcast journalist for NBC News, known for being a news reader on the Today program from 1953 to 1975.[1]

Early years[edit]

Blair was born on May 30, 1915 in Yemassee, South Carolina.[2] His family moved to Walterboro, South Carolina, during his infancy and later moved to Charleston, South Carolina.[3]

He was a Boy Scout, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 1930. As an adult, he would be honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[4] He attended the College of Charleston prior to beginning his broadcasting career in various radio stations in South Carolina in the 1930s, leaving his pre-med studies at the college to join a theatrical touring company.[5]

Radio[edit]

Blair's radio debut was at WCSC in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1935. Later that year, he joined WIS in Columbia, South Carolina, as a newscaster. In 1937, he became program director at WFBC in Greenville, South Carolina. Several months later, he left there to join WOL in Washington, D.C., in a role that included announcing for the Mutual network.[3]

When NBC radio's Monitor weekend program began in 1955, Blair was one of the first news anchors.[6]

Military service[edit]

Beginning in 1942,[3] Blair served in the U.S. Navy as a flight instructor and transport pilot[5] during World War II before resuming his broadcast career after the war.[7]

Television[edit]

Blair (left) with the rest of the 1953 Today show cast, including J. Fred Muggs

In 1951, Blair began his television career as the host of Heritage, an NBC cultural series broadcast live from Washington's National Gallery of Art. From 1951 to 1953, he was the moderator of Georgetown University Forum on the DuMont Television Network. Blair became the news editor and on-air newscaster for Today in 1953, continuing in those roles until he retired in 1975.[3]

Stephen Battaglio, in his book, From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show, described Blair as "a protege of legendary broadcaster Lowell Thomas and a consummate professional."[8] Cathleen M. Londino opined in her book, The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television that one "reason for his success seemed to be that because he was so expressionless in reading the news, he read it in a completely objective manner. 'One could never tell where he stood on what he was reading. In all of his 22 years on the air, nobody can remember hearing him express a single viewpoint.'"[9]

Personal life[edit]

Blair and his wife, Lillian had eight children.[10] He retired from NBC in 1975 to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. In 1979, he published his autobiography, Let's be Frank About It, in which he discussed his life and career, including some bouts with alcoholism.[11]

Death[edit]

Blair died in Hilton Head 20 years to the day from his last broadcast on NBC.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Frank Blair, 79, an anchorman on NBC's "Today" show for 22 years". Baltimore Sun. March 16, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Frank Blair, 79, Ex-'Today' Anchor". New York Times. March 16, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Cox, Jim (2007). Radio Speakers: Narrators, News Junkies, Sports Jockeys, Tattletales, Tipsters, Toastmasters and Coffee Klatch Couples Who Verbalized the Jargon of the Aural Ether from the 1920s to the 1980s--A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6086-1. Pp. 34-35.
  4. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scout Award". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "TODAY' SHOW ANCHORMAN FRANK BLAIR DIES AT AGE 79". The Washington Post. March 15, 1995. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  6. ^ Bliss, Edward (2013). Now the News: The Story of Broadcast Journalism. Columbia University Press. p. 190. ISBN 9780231521932. Retrieved November 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Frank Blair, 79, Ex-anchorman On `Today' Show". March 15, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ Battaglio, Stephen (2012). From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show. Running Press. ISBN 0762445483. Retrieved November 7, 2016. 
  9. ^ Londino, Cathleen M. (2016). The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 111. ISBN 9781442269934. Retrieved November 7, 2016. 
  10. ^ Kessler, Judy (March 31, 1975). "Frank Blair, a Morning Institution, Calls It a Day". People Magazine. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Let's Be Frank About It". Kirkus. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]