Tuesday, August 7, 2007

LA Mourns The Loss Of A Local Legend: Hal Fishman, KTLA Anchor For 32 Years Died Today

When it comes to journalistic integrity, I can only think of two names. Walter Cronkite and Hal Fishman. When I first came to Los Angeles during the Summer of 1984, I remember turning on the local news at may Aunt's home in Huntington Beach and watching the KTLA News with Hal Fishman. It is with great sadness today that legendary KTLA Anchorman Hal Fishman, the longest-running anchor in television history, and a presence in Los Angeles broadcasting for nearly five decades that many in the city grew up knowing and trusting, has died at the age of 75. Hal's strong connection with Southern Californians, along with his journalistic integrity, made him one of the brightest stars in KTLA's 60-year history.

On the evening of Thursday, August 2, 2007, KTLA posted a message on its website that Fishman had been hospitalized. That evening, during KTLA Prime News, co-anchor Leila Feinstein began the newscast with this message: "We would like to start off tonight by letting you know Hal is in the hospital after collapsing at his home yesterday. He's being treated for serious infection but he is awake and alert. There are no further details available at the time. All of us here at the station wish him the very best. According to the KTLA website, Fishman was being treated for a serious infection. While being treated for this infection, Fishman's doctors discovered colon cancer which spread to his liver.

Fishman, who would have turned 76 on Aug. 25, had anchored KTLA's 10 p.m. newscast since 1975. He joined the station a decade earlier, and contributed to the station's Peabody Award-winning coverage of the Watts riots that year. Fishman's honors include the Governors Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a lifetime achievement award from the Associated Press Television-Radio Association. Hal even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

He received a master's degree in Political Science from UCLA in 1956, and planned for a career in academia (he actually worked as an assistant political science professor for two years). However, after KCOP-TV Channel 13 approached him to teach an on-air course, the station invited him to anchor his own segment. Fishman had been on the air continuously since June 20, 1960, moving from KCOP-TV to KTLA-TV in 1965. He was personally invited to KTLA by Gene Autry who had just purchased the station and he has anchored KTLA's 10pm newscast (currently known as "KTLA Prime News") since 1975.

Hal combined journalism with his love of flying. I remember when I was taking lesson out at Van Huys airport and hearing stories about Hal Fishman and his flying exploits. He had authored two novels, "Flight 902 is Down" and "The Vatican Target"; the latter is co-authored with aviation writer Barry J. Schiff.

He appeared in many movies including Spider-Man 3, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles and Black Sunday. KTLA held a party just last week and honored him with praise and gratitude for his work in journalism and in helping the people of Los Angeles. The station's newsroom was named in his honor in 2000. Fishman is survived by a wife and son, according to KTLA. The family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

Even though Discover Insanity is a news blog, we always try to be accurate while having some fun. One of the greatest stories about Hal was that he always though that the role of a journalist and reporter was just as important as being a lawyer, doctor or any other profession. Because bring the news to the public was a very important responsibility which shouldn't be taken lightly. There isn't much more to say than that.

Goodbye Hal Fishman, Los Angeles and the world has truly lost a legend of integrity.