Edwin Newman Obit


Broadcast journalist Edwin Newman died in September 2010. He was 91.

The New York Times said no further details regarding his death were immediately released.

Newman won recognition as a watchdog on the English language long after he had made his reputation as a leading television newsman.

Newman's books on grammar and usage "Strictly Speaking" and "A Civil Tongue" were best sellers and made the newscaster a popular figure on the lecture circuit.

But Newman was best known as a newscaster for his dry wit and deadpan expression in covering the news, first for CBS and then NBC. He served as bureau chief in capital cities around the world as well as an on-camera commentator.

Newman was born Jan. 25, 1919 in New York City to Myron and Rose Parker Newman and attended city primary schools and George Washington High. While at George Washington, Newman was on the staff of the student newspaper.

When Newman enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, he chose political science as his major but got a position on the college newspaper, The Daily Cardinal. During this period Newman picked up pocket money by working as a dishwasher.

He studied government for one term at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1940, leaving to take a civil service job in Washington. He found this too tedious and decided to make journalism his career, starting at the Washington bureau of International News Service and then moving to United Press, now United Press International.

During World War II Newman served as a Navy officer in non-combat service. He returned to United Press after the end of the war but resigned to take a job on PM, a New York daily newspaper started in 1940 by Ralph Ingersoll. He left this employment to work for a Washington agency that sold regional news to newspapers in Michigan and New Jersey.

In 1949 Eric Sevareid, who had been a UP correspondent, hired Newman to help him put together a nightly radio newscast for CBS. With this experience on his record, Newman struck out on his own as a free-lancer, moving to London where he prepared magazine articles. In London Newman also worked part-time for BBC and NBC.

NBC liked Newman's work and put him on the regular payroll in 1952. He was promoted to head of NBC's London bureau in 1956 and then took executive assignments for the network in Rome and Paris before returning to New York to star on the morning "Today" show. He also served as anchorman on several NBC specials and prestige-type series.

Newman's keen wit and tongue-in-cheek commentary made him an ideal observer on the entertainment scene, and NBC assigned him the position of drama critic in 1965. He incurred the wrath of producer David Merrick for an uncomplimentary review of "The Loves of Cass McGuire" and was banned by the impresario from his future shows. Merrick's displeasure notwithstanding, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences gave Newman its Emmy award for dramatic criticism the following year. He won five other Emmys and the Headliner's Award from the Boston Press Club before retiring in 1984.

"Ed Newman was never preachy or pedantic," Brian Williams, the anchor and managing editor of the NBC "Nightly News," said in a statement issued to the Times. "He was approachable, elegant and precise. He was a teacher, a broadcaster, and above all a superb journalist. To those of us watching at home: he made us feel like we had a very smart, classy friend in the broadcast news business."

Newman married Rigel Grell in London on Aug. 14, 1944. They had one daughter, Nancy.

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