Who was Peter Jennings?

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 29 July 1938 – his zodiac sign was Leo, and he held both Canadian and American nationality. He was a journalist who’s perhaps still remembered best for the work which he had done for the multi-national commercial broadcast TV network ABC, especially for having anchored their show “World News Tonight”.

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Early life and education

Peter was raised in Toronto alongside his younger sister Sarah, by their father Charles Jennings who was a radio broadcaster and worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and their mother Elizabeth (nee Osborne) who was a housewife.

Peter fell in love with his father’s job at a very early age, and was nine years old when he hosted the children’s show “Peter’s People” for the radio station CBC Radio. Peter’s father was on a business trip when his son performed on air for the first time, and was outraged when he found out about it, because he disliked nepotism.

Peter enrolled at Trinity College School when he was 11, and mostly enjoyed playing sports during his time there. He transferred to Lisgar Collegiate Institute after the family had moved to Ottawa, Canada, but dropped out while attending 10th grade; Peter later revealed that this happened because he was bored with studying, and preferred to spend time with girls and reading comic books.

He later attended Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, but dropped out of both.

Early career

Peter began working at the Royal Bank of Canada as a teller when he was 19, but became interested in acting around that time, appearing in amateur plays such as “South Pacific” and “Damn Yankees”.

He was 21 when he joined the local radio station CFJR; Peter worked in their news department, and several of his stories were then covered on CBC. He was hired to work at CJOH in 1961, and then got to host his own show “Club Thirteen”.

Peter was 24 when hired to work at CTV, and when the US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963, Peter was the first Canadian journalist to cover the story; three months after that, he moved to the US and began working at ABC.

Later career

After having been hired by ABC, Peter began anchoring their 15-minute show “Peter Jennings With the News”, thus becoming the youngest person to anchor a news show in the US; he had problems adjusting to work in the US, and quit after three years to become a foreign correspondent.

He began working for ABC in Beirut, Lebanon, having established a Middle East bureau there, and became the first American to interview the late Yasser Arafat, former chairman of Palestine Liberation Organization. Peter had also fallen in love while in Beirut, and began dating the Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi.

He gained recognition after his coverage of the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972, when eight Palestinian terrorists took nine Israeli Olympic team members hostage, killing two.

The following year saw Peter cover the Yom Kippur War, and he returned to the USA in the second half of 1974, having been invited to anchor the ABC’s morning show “AM America”, but it was cancelled after close to a year.

Peter became ABC’s chief foreign correspondent in November 1975, and was the first US reporter to interview the late Iranian politician and religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who was in exile in Paris, France at that time. On 10 July 1978, Peter began co-hosting ABC’s “World News Tonight” in London, England.

It was revealed by ABC on 9 August 1983 that Peter had signed a four-year contract with them, and would continue hosting “World News Tonight” by himself; he debuted on 5 September, and it was then that ABC’s ratings began to climb.

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Peter attracted a lot of attention when he covered the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster for 11 straight hours, while some of his following notable coverages were the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Gulf War in 1991, and the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

On 11 September 2001, Peter spent 17 straight hours covering the 9/11 attacks.

He retired three years later, but returned and went on to work for ABC until 1 April 2005, when he anchored “World News Tonight” one last time before his death.

Awards and accolades

Peter won 16 Daytime Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards during his career as a journalist, while the “Washington Journalism Review” named him Best Anchor four times, in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992.

In 2004, Washington State University presented Peter with an Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting.

In 2005, just eight days before Peter passed away, he learned that he was to be inducted into the Order of Canada; his daughter Elizabeth accepted the insignia in October 2005.

Love life and wife

Peter was married four times. He married his first wife Valerie Godsoe in 1961, following a two-year relationship, but their divorce was finalized on 21 September 1963.

Peter exchanged vows with Anoushka Malauf, a Lebanese photographer, in 1973, but they divorced in 1979.

His third wife was the Hungarian-American author and journalist Kati Marton, whom he married in 1979, and Kati gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth in the same year, while their son Christopher followed in 1982. Peter and Kati divorced in 1993.

He married his fourth wife Kayce Freed in 1997, and they remained together until Peter’s death in 2005.

Hobbies and interesting facts

Peter was a bit of an author and with the help of Todd Brewster, he published two books: “The Century for Young People” in 1999 and “In Search of America” in 2002.

Peter was a philanthropist who had donated money and volunteered with numerous charity organizations, while he was mostly focused on working with war veterans and underprivileged children.

He was a lover of animals, and also donated money to animal shelters.

Death

Peter revealed in the first half of the year 2005 that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and he died from complications caused by it on 7 August 2005. His remains were cremated and half of them were kept at his Long Island home, while the other half were kept at his second home in the Gatineau Hills, Canada.

Age, height and net worth

Peter was 67 years old at the time of his death, and would’ve been 83 today. He had short brown hair and brown eyes, his height was 6ft 2ins (1.9m) and he weighed around 175lbs (80kgs).

At the time of his death, Peter’s net worth was estimated at more than $50 million.

Author

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

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