Walter Cronkite can rightfully be called the father of network evening news, a daily event that has become an institution in America. Cronkite joined the CBS Television News Division in 1950, and in 1952 he coined the term "News Anchor" to describe his news reporting role at the Republican and Democratic Party conventions that year. It was the year that the two political conventions were both covered for the first time by the television networks for national distribution to their affiliated stations.
From the term "Anchor"came the term "Anchorman", a position he took up in 1962 when he became the evening news anchorman for the CBS Evening News. He stayed in that position until his rather early retirement at age 65 in 1981. His retirement was especially early since he was still quite active in the year 2006, the year he would turn 90. In a nationwide viewer opinion poll conducted in 1995, fourteen years after leaving his anchorman position at CBS, Cronkite was still considered by the American public to be the most trusted man in television news.
Walter Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on November 4, 1916. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he attended high school. In 1933 he enrolled at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas. As a student he became interested in journalism and worked for the university daily newspaper, "The Daily Texan". He also did some reporting from the Texas State Capitol for various newspapers. He apparently was a quick learner and his work was appreciated. In 1935, he was offered a job at the Houston Post as a reporter, and he interrupted his university studies to become a big city newspaper reporter.
He worked as a reporter for various newspapers and even got involved in radio announcing for a radio station in Oklahoma City for a while. In 1937, United Press International hired him, and that set the stage for his extensive World War II reporting career. Next to Edward R. Murrow he became one of the top World War II reporters, covering battles in North Africa and Europe. After the war he covered the Neuremberg trials, and then served as the Chief Reporter for United Press International in Moscow for two years. In 1950 he joined CBS News in their growing Television News Division.
When Cronkite became the evening news anchor at CBS in 1962, NBC was the leading evening news station with the Huntley and Brinkley team. After several years Cronkite took over the lead and never lost it for the entire period he was the CBS Evening News anchorman. He was the main reporter during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the JFK Assassination, the Vietnam War, the Apollo Mission and the Watergate Scandal. One measure of his influence was the report that when President Johnson lost Cronkite's support for the Vietnam War, Johnson decided to not to run again for the next presidential term.
Since his retirement Cronkite has been active in a number of special news programs for CBS, PBS and A&E. He hosted the CBS's "Universe Special" in 1982, PBS's "Why in the World?" in 1981 and A & E's "Dinosaur" in 1991. In addition, he is often doing small parts for a variety of news stories. During his life time he has written two books. He wrote "Challenges of Change" in 1971, and his "Memoirs" in 1996.
Walter Cronkite was married to Betsy Maxwell in 1940. They had three children. Cronkite's wife, Betsie passed away in 2005 after 65 years of marriage, at age 89. She succumbed following a battle with cancer. Cronkite turned 90 on November 4, 2006.
Cronkite's Dutch American connection goes back to the seventeenth century when his ancestors lived in New Amsterdam and New Netherland. His most distant ancestor was Herck Siboutsen Krankheyt, who was probably born in Holland about 1615. Herck had a son named Theunis Hercksen Frankheyt who was probably born in New Netherland about 1652. The latter's daughter was Wyntje Frankheyt who was definitely born in New Netherland in 1683. Wyntje is one of Walter Cronkite's distant cousins. She was so clearly in Walter Cronkite's mind that in 1986 he named his 48 foot, 50,000 pound, custom built ketch [sailboat] after her. The ketch was built to Cronkite's specifications, and he enjoyed it for eleven years. It apparently was a beauty made of fiberglass, teak, aluminum and nylon. In 1997 he donated it to the Associated Marine Institute, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping young people find alternatives to getting into trouble. The name Cronkite is a derivation from the original Dutch Krankheyt, which translates to illness.
Walter Cronkite passed away on July 17, 2009 in New York City, the location from where he had served as the anchorman of the United States for a period of almost 20 years. He is interred in the state of his birth, Missouri.
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PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS, CURRENT AND HISTORIC
EIGHT PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE ROOSEVELTS, VANDERBILTS AND OTHERS, 2015
FIFTEEN PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE VAN BURENS, KOCH BROTHERS, VOORHEES AND OTHERS, 2015
PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, 2015
DUTCH PEGELS INVOLVED IN WARS
ALLIED EUROPE CAMPAIGN—1944/1945: TACTICAL MISTAKES, 2017
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE NETHERLANDS: MEMOIRS, 2017
FRENCH REVOLUTION, NAPOLEON AND RUSSIAN WAR OF 1812, 2015