Tuesday, May 20, 2014

L.A. TV News Anchor Jerry Dunphy 2002 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills

Jerry Dunphy (June 9, 1921 - May 20, 2002) was an American television news anchor in the Los Angeles/Southern California media market. He was best known for his catchy intro "From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California, a good evening."



After serving as a pilot in World War II, Dunphy began his broadcast television career in 1953. He was the news director/anchor at then-CBS owned-and-operated (O&O) WXIX (now CW affiliated WVTV) in Milwaukee. Dunphy also was a sports reporter at another CBS O&O, WBBM-TV, in Chicago. Then in 1960, Dunphy took over the anchor chair at the Los Angeles CBS O&O station KNXT (now KCBS-TV), where he anchored Los Angeles' most popular newscast later titled "The Big News," a program that often attracted a quarter of Los Angeles television owners, ratings unheard of in the market. He was still popular when fired in 1965, yet KNXT sought to adopt a faster paced, "Eyewitness News" type format. It was then when Jerry joined KABC-TV, bringing it to the top of the ratings, making it Southern California's news leader. Since Dunphy's unceremonious firing, Channel 2 has never recovered in the ratings. Dunphy left KABC-TV in 1989 and joined the upstart KCAL-TV as one of the pioneering anchors of the three-hour primetime news format, "Prime 9 News." He returned to KCBS-TV in 1995 and remained until 1997 as an anchorman, and rejoined KCAL-TV in 1997, where he remained until his death.

Dunphy was one of the first newscasters to interview President Richard Nixon after his resignation in 1974. He would later sit down with Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford. Dunphy also performed regular cameos in L.A.-based films including Night of the Lepus (1972), Oh God! (1977), Short Cuts (1993), The Jerky Boys (1994) and Independence Day (1996), and is considered to be the inspiration for two fictional television characters: Kent Brockman on The Simpsons, and Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Dunphy was also a songwriter. One of his songs was called, appropriately, "From the Desert to the Sea" and was recorded by country music star Tom T. Hall.

Personal life and death

Dunphy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was attacked and shot by would-be robbers in 1983, but soon after made a full recovery. Although he had suffered two previous heart attacks in 1978 and 1991, he had been in good health and had even anchored broadcasts the week before he succumbed to a heart attack on May 20, 2002. He suffered this heart attack on his way to work the week before.

On this night, former Los Angeles Lakers Broadcaster Chick Hearn, while doing play-by-play for a Lakers playoff game on KCAL, announced that Jerry had suffered a heart attack. After the game went off the air, KCAL co-anchor Pat Harvey, fighting back tears, announced Dunphy's death on the 9 PM newscast: Los Angeles has forever changed tonight, because Jerry Dunphy will never come into your home again. Our beloved anchorman, and friend, has died. Jerry touched the lives of generations of Angelenos for more than 40 years; a beacon of truth and trust, and for all to turn to in good times and in bad.

When KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV moved into its new CBS Studio Center in 2007, a newsroom was named in Dunphy's honor. KCAL news promos still occasionally incorporate Dunphy's "from the desert to the sea to all of southern California" phrase, with other anchors speaking the lines in reference to their program's wide range of coverage.

He is survived by a wife, Sandra Marshall, and a daughter, Erin Dunphy.

Jerry Dunphy is entombed at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

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