Chet Huntley life and biography

Chet Huntley picture, image, poster

Chet Huntley biography

Date of birth : 1911-12-10
Date of death : 1974-03-20
Birthplace : Cardwell, Montana, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-06-29
Credited as : Television newscaster, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, David Brinkley

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Chester Robert "Chet" Huntley was an American television newscaster, best known for co-anchoring NBC's evening news program, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, for 14 years beginning in 1956.

Huntley was born in Cardwell, Montana. He graduated from Whitehall High School in Whitehall and attended Montana State College in Bozeman and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle before graduating from the University of Washington in 1934.

He began his radio newscast career at Seattle's KIRO AM, later working on radio stations in Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon. He went to work for CBS Radio from 1939 to 1951, at which point he moved to ABC Radio. In 1955, he joined the NBC Radio network, viewed by network executives as "another Ed Murrow."

In 1956, coverage of the national political conventions was a major point of pride for the fledgling broadcast news organizations. NBC news executives were seeking to counter the growing popularity of CBS's Walter Cronkite, who had been a ratings success at the 1952 conventions. They decided to replace their current news anchor, John Cameron Swayze, but there was a disagreement on who the new anchorman should be. The two leading contenders were Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. The eventual decision was to have both men share the assignment. Their on-air chemistry was apparent from the start, with Huntley's straightforward presentation countered by Brinkley's acerbic wit.

This success soon led to the team replacing Swayze on the network's nightly news program. It was decided to have the two men co-anchor the show; Huntley from New York, Brinkley from Washington. The Huntley-Brinkley Report began in October 1956 and was soon a ratings success. Huntley and Brinkley's catchphrase closing of "Good night, Chet" - "Good night, David. And good night for NBC News." was developed by the show's producer, Reuven Frank. The sign-off became famous (although both men disliked it).

He published a memoir of his boyhood, The Generous Years, in 1968. He also became involved in a New York advertising agency, Levine, Huntley, Schmidt, Plapler & Beaver, gaining a 10 per cent share in the agency in exchange for having his name on the letterhead and attending some agency meetings.

Huntley retired in 1970 and returned to Montana, where he conceived and built the Big Sky Resort, a skiing venue south of Bozeman, which opened in December 1973. Huntley died of lung cancer in March 1974 at his home in Big Sky. In 1976, Boyne USA Resorts purchased the resort and has owned and managed it since then.

In 2003, a biography titled Good Night Chet, by Lyle Johnston, was published by McFarland Publishers. Only days before his retirement, Huntley gave an amusing, free-swinging interview with Dick Cavett, available on the DVD The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons, Disc 2.

Unlike other television news journalists, Huntley did voiceovers for several Hollywood films, although he did not appear on-camera in them. He even played a brief "acting" role, as the executive Avery Bullard, who dies of a heart attack at the beginning of the 1953 MGM all-star film, Executive Suite. After Huntley delivers a brief voiceover pre-credits introduction, the camera assumes a subjective viewpoint, as if we were seeing everything from the executive's point-of-view, and we hear Huntley's voice speaking his lines. Then, as the executive collapses on the sidewalk outside the building that he owns, the subjective viewpoint ends. The audience, however, never actually sees Chet Huntley in the film. Huntley appears on screen in two scenes in "The Pride of St. Louis" 1952, an uncredited role as Dizzy Dean's radio announcing sidekick.

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