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Ed Bradley Obituary


NEW YORK (AP) – Ed Bradley, the award-winning television journalist who broke racial barriers at CBS News and created a distinctive, powerful body of work during his 26 years on "60 Minutes," died Thursday. He was 65.

Bradley died of leukemia at Mount Sinai hospital, CBS News announced.

With his signature earring, Bradley was "considered intelligent, smooth, cool, a great reporter, beloved and respected by all his colleagues here at CBS News," Katie Couric said in a special report.

"He certainly was a reporter's reporter," fellow "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace told CBS News Radio.

Bradley's consummate skills were recognized with numerous awards, including 19 Emmys, the latest for a segment on the reopening of the 50-year-old racial murder case of Emmett Till.

Three of his Emmys came in 2003: for lifetime achievement; a 2002 "60 Minutes" report on brain cancer patients; and a "60 Minutes II" report about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. He also won a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

"He was a great journalist who did the most serious work without ever seeming to take himself seriously," Barbara Walters said in a statement.

Bradley grew up in a tough section of Philadelphia, where he once recalled that his parents worked 20-hour days at two jobs apiece. "I was told, 'You can be anything you want, kid,'" he once told an interviewer. "When you hear that often enough, you believe it."

After graduating from Cheyney State, a historically black college, he launched his career as a DJ and news reporter for a Philadelphia radio station in 1963, moving to New York's WCBS radio four years later.

He joined CBS News as a stringer in the Paris bureau in 1971, transferring a year later to the Saigon bureau during the Vietnam War; he was wounded while on assignment in Cambodia.

After Southeast Asia, Bradley returned to the United States and covered Jimmy Carter's successful campaign for the White House. He followed Carter to Washington, in 1976 becoming CBS' first black White House correspondent – a prestigious position that Bradley didn't enjoy.

He jumped from Washington to doing pieces for "CBS Reports," traveling to Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. It was his Emmy-winning 1979 work on a story about Vietnamese boat people, refugees from the war-torn nation, that eventually landed his work on "60 Minutes." He officially joined the show in 1981.

"60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt, in his book "Minute by Minute," was quick to appreciate Bradley's work. "He's so good and so savvy and so lights up the tube every time he's on it that I wonder what took us so long," Hewitt wrote.

In 1993, Bradley responded to rumors that he might be lured to ABC News by commenting: "I happen to be on the No. 1 show on television. That's a pretty strong incentive. Besides, CBS is home. There are people here I grew up with."

Bradley retained a lifelong interest in jazz and art, and recently served as a radio host for "Jazz at Lincoln Center."

Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, called Bradley "one of our definitive cultural figures, a man of unsurpassed curiosity, intelligence, dignity and heart."

Accepting his lifetime achievement award from the black journalists association, Bradley remembered being present at some of the organization's first meetings in New York.

"I look around this room tonight and I can see how much our profession has changed and our numbers have grown," he said. "I also see it every day as I travel the country reporting stories for '60 Minutes.' All I have to do is turn on the TV and I can see the progress that has been made."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press


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Published in Chicago Tribune on November 12, 2006
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