September 17, 2011

What This Blog Needs: More Jessica Savitch

And WOW.

This is an entirely intact NBC News Digest anchored by Jessica...something that is a rarity, even in these days of YouTube and the like. This beautiful clip not only features the entire "three-chime" opening with its super space-age graphics and the world turning in the wrong direction, but the entire commercial for American Airlines in the middle, complete with that gorgeous DC-10 making its ascension to Destinations Unknown.

What the clip does not have is the trademark "Savitch Smile" at the end. Savitch seems rather wan, worn, and tired. This clip is from the 22nd or 23rd of April, 1983; not only was Savitch deep into her cocaine abuse, she was in a great deal of trouble at NBC. Not because of her cocaine use, mind you; yet the brass used that as their official reason, which was, at that time, very hypocritical. No, Jessica Savitch was viewed as "difficult," too "mercurial" for the NBC brass, and they had themselves a new Golden Girl to replace her: a hotshot young reporter from KCBS in Los Angeles named Connie Chung.

In fact, a week or so after this broadcast, Jessica Savitch was ousted from her spot as the Saturday anchor for NBC Nightly News and replaced with Chung.

When I was a young girl, I idolized her. I was too young to know that hers was an unhappy, unfulfilled life, full of tragedy and disaster leading right up to that upside-down station wagon filled with muddy water in that little canal outside Chez Odette.

Rest in peace, Jessica.


  1. I wanted to be Jessica. Whenever I had to wear a name tag, I wrote "Jessica Savitch". I was beside myself when she died, but sadder still when I read the biographies.

  2. She had an awful life. Just awful. This post has led me to re-read Golden Girl by Alanna Nash. Again I am struck by how this woman just seemed to attract tragedy. In the spanse of about two years, she had a bad marriage, bankruptcy, divorce, another marriage, found out her new husband was gay, had two miscarriages (or abortions, depending on who you ask), and discovered her new husband after he hung himself...with her beloved dog Chewy's leash. All the while battling her own anorexia and cocaine addiction and the stress of working at NBC, where she was used by the brass, but never liked.

    Her mentor, Ron Kershaw, loved her, but he also beat her and played terrible mind games with her.

    Just a tragic, terrible life. And don't even contemplate how she is too awful for words.

  3. Another great book about Jessica is Almost Golden: Jessica Savitch and The Selling of Television News, by Glenda Blair. That book goes much more into detail about the goings-on at NBC, whereas Golden Girl is more about Jessica's personal life.