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A veteran television newscaster with a distinctive, clipped vocal delivery, David Brinkley began his journalistic career while still a high school student in his native Wilmington, NC, dropping out of high school in his senior year to write full-time for THE WILMINGTON MORNING STAR. After service in the US Army during WWII, he worked as a Southern stringer for United Press before landing a berth at NBC in 1943 as a newswriter. Eight years later, Brinkley began contributing on-air reports as the Washington correspondent for the nightly news broadcast, "The Camel News Caravan," anchored by John Cameron Swayze. By 1954, he was a contributor to "Caravan," a weekly discussion on topical issues.
Brinkley was first teamed with fellow correspondent Chet Huntley to cover the 1956 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Their seemingly disparate styles (Huntley, with his horn-rimmed glasses, was serious and dependable, while the slender Brinkley could be wry and caustic) worked well together and the duo had "chemistry." The charismatic pairing led to their being named to replace Swayze as the anchor team for the newly revamped "NBC News" in October 1956. Over the years, the show grew from fifteen minutes to a half-hour and their sign-off "Goodnight, Chet. Goodnight, David and goodnight for NBC News" became a pop trademark to a generation of a certain age. The show's title was also changed to "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" and it received numerous award, including several Emmys for Achievement in News. Brinkley proved popular enough to be allowed to host a series of documentaries under the umbrella title of "David Brinkley's Journal" (NBC, 1961-63), which earned back to back Emmy Awards as Best Public Affairs Series in 1962 and 1963.
When Huntley retired in 1970, NBC again revamped the broadcast, with Brinkley alternating as anchor with John Chancellor and Frank McGee. Eventually, from 1976 to 1979, Brinkley and Chancellor served as co-anchors. Brinkley then hosted the network's third attempt at "60 Minutes"-type primetime program, "NBC Magazine with David Brinkley" (1980-81), but the show was scheduled opposite the then-popular CBS primetime soap "Dallas" and its ratings were hardly spectacular. In September 1981, after nearly four decades with NBC, Brinkley resigned and moved to rival ABC. Since then, he has served as a political commentator and hosted a weekly Sunday morning roundtable discussion program, "This Week with David Brinkley" (1981-96).
Over the course of his long career, Brinkley has received numerous awards and honors, including 10 Emmy Awards, three Peabody Awards, and he has covered nearly all of the major political events, ranging from every Presidential inauguration since Eisenhower's in 1957 to Watergate to presidential funerals. He has also written a best-seller, "Washington at War" and his memoirs. Brinkley's son, Joel, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
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Served as a volunteer in the US Army; discharged after being misdiagnosed with a kidney disease
Moved to Washington, DC; believed he had been hired by CBS Radio; arrived to find no job; found immediate employemnt with NBC
Appointed White House reporter for NBC
Named as co-anchor (with Chet Huntley) of NBC Nightly News; later called "The Huntley-Brinkley Report"
First teamed with Chet Huntley to cover the Democratic and Republican National Conventions
In October, Huntley and Brinkley named to replace Swayze; broadcast now called "NBC News"; first netweork newscast with two anchors
Chet Huntley retired; Brinkley served as part-time anchor and commentator on "NBC Nightly News"
Resigned from NBC on September 4; two weeks later, signed with ABC
Began hosting Sunday morning panel discussion "This Week with David Brinkley"
Interviewed outgoing President Reagan on "Ronald Reagan and David Brinkley: A Final Interview"
Wrote and co-anchored ABC documentary "Pearl Harbor: Two Hours that Changed the World"
Anchored and narrated "A Christmas to Remember: The Battle of the Bulge" (ABC)
Announced plans to cut back on his workload effective November 10; Brinkley would no longer host "This Week" but would continue to provide commentary
Officially announced his retirement on September 28
Became commercial spokesperson for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), his decision to accept position sparked controversy and negative comments from former colleagues as ADM had been fined for price-fixing in 1996