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February 06, 2006

Former NBC News Exec Reuven Frank Dies

Broadcast Journalism Pioneer

Reuven Frank

New York, NY –
Reuven Frank, former NBC News President and one of the architects of network television news coverage, has died of pneumonia at age 85.

Frank, who began his NBC career in 1950 as a writer, helped to shape the now-standard format of network news anchor teams as producer of the Huntley-Brinkley Report, which initiated the celebrated partnership of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. He was the show’s producer from 1956 to 1962.

In 1962 he became executive producer, and later was promoted to vice president, senior vice president and ultimately to president, a post he assumed in 1968. He distinguished himself that year amid such high-profile news events as the Tet offensive in Vietnam and the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

Among Frank’s many innovations were the half-hour news format, the manner in which networks cover presidential conventions and engrossing hour-by-hour coverage of NASA’s early manned space missions. He was also responsible for the selection of Tom Brokaw to succeed Huntley and Brinkley as sole anchor of NBC’s nightly news.

Born in Montreal, Canada on Dec. 7, 1920, Frank served four years in the U.S. Army during World War II. After his discharge he earned a journalism degree from Columbia University, after which he went to work for the Newark Evening News. He spent three years as a reporter, rewrite man and night city editor before moving to television.

In addition to his daily news career, Frank produced documentaries, including The Tunnel, about the escape of 59 East Germans beneath the newly constructed Berlin Wall in 1962. The acclaimed film was the only documentary to win an Emmy as program of the year.

An in-depth interview with Frank is available through the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Archive of American Television.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and a sister.

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