When Chet Huntley decided to retire from NBC-TV's Huntley-Brinkley Report, one of television's most respected nightly network newscasts, the network gave him a horse as a retirement gift. Chet was born in Cardwell, Montana, and his retirement was to be at Big Sky, not far from his birthplace, thus the fitting parting gift from NBC-TV. The horse was named Julian Goodman, since the horse's namesake and former NBC-TV president, created the Huntley-Brinkley Report, network television's first dual-anchor newscast. Obviously, the horse's naming was tongue-in-cheek, but also reminded Chet and his wife Tippi (nee Tipton Stringer) who was responsible for Chet's biggest break in his chosen career.
I had the honor and privilege to have Chet's friendship, starting with helping him promote Montana's Big Sky Resort, just south of Bozeman (via KSTP-TV's SKI SCENE, of which I was the host for four years). Chet was part owner of, and spokesperson for, the resort, which was then majority-owned and developed by The Chrysler Corporation. (Sadly, Chet died just three days before the resort opened in March, 1973.) Chet once told me he had "a modest flair for writing", thus coupled his journalism courses with newswriting for the Salt Lake City Tribune, his first professional news job.
Chet was as unaffected and genuine as anyone in the news business could ever be. During the fledgling days of the Huntley-Brinkley Report, NBC-TV had introduced "compatible" color television and employed a few people to model in front of the color cameras so the engineers could adjust their equpment to make the color look "perfect". One of the models in New York was the aforementioned Tipton "Tippi" Stringer. One afternoon, prior to one of the Huntley-Brinkley newscasts, Chet (based in D.C.) saw Tippi modeling and asked David (Brinkley) (based in New York) who she was. Chet was single at the time. David told Chet her name, and he subsequenrly introduced them both after Chet expressed a wish to meet her. They eventually got married and the rest, as is said, was history. Tippi was delightful and had a firecracker personality. The antithesis of Chet's mostly gentile personna, they compelemted each other well, as Chet also had a great sense of humor. About a year after Chet passed, Tippi had me visit their home on the side of a hill facing Lone Mountain at Big Sky. She invited me to sit at Chet's old roll-top desk while we were chatting. I truly felt uncomfortable sitting at what I considered a broadcasting "shrine", but remained in his chair and at his desk for at least an hour, simply reminiscong about what the news business wasm and what it had become.
Julian Goodman (the man, not the horse) had vision and foresight regarding quality and dignity germane to news programming and those who were hired.
While paying homage to Mr. Goodman, it would be remiss to not mention another giant and icon under the NBC-TV leadership umbrella. That giant and icon was Sigourney Weaver's father, Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, who created THE TODAY SHOW and THE TONIGHT SHOW, to name just two. He was my "boss" during my teenaged "Mister Peepers" and "The Perry Como Show" acting and singing years, and when he spoke, everyone listened, wisely-so.
Mr. Weaver and Mr. Goodman were icons who shaped a generation of dignified broadcasting, and who stated, during interviews before their deaths, they were saddened and disappointed to accept what television had become, for the most part, from news to entertainment.
Thank goodness, in my opinion, for TVLand and MeTV offering daily reruns of the wholesome quality with which many of us lived in the 1950s and 60s. I'm personally happy younger viewers, especially, at least have a chance to see what we experienced as our prime time TV fare and why some of us who experienced those days are often turned off by what we turn on these days.
Thanks for taking the time to read these blogs and for hopefully tuning in to my A SENIOR MOMENT webcasts at www.startribune.com/video where the subject changes every Monday, as does my choice of Uncle Scrooge comic books.