Harry Truman Reasoner

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Harry Truman Reasoner

Birthdate: (68)
Death: 1991 (68)
Immediate Family:

Son of Harry Ray Reasoner and Eunice Grace Nicholl

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Harry Truman Reasoner


Harry Truman Reasoner (April 17, 1923 – August 6, 1991) was an American journalist for ABC and CBS News, known for his inventive use of language as a television commentator, and as a founder of the 60 Minutes program.


Reasoner was born in Dakota City, Iowa. He attended West High School in Minneapolis, going on to study journalism at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota. He served in World War II and then resumed his journalism career with The Minneapolis Times. His novel Tell Me About Women, about a fading marriage, was written partly during his World War II service and was first published in 1946.

Journalism: CBS News

After going into radio with CBS in 1948, Reasoner worked for the United States Information Agency in the Philippines. When he returned stateside, he went into television and worked at station KEYD (later KMSP) in Minneapolis. He ran for Minneapolis city council as a Republican in 1949 and garnered 381 votes (4.4 percent). Reasoner later joined CBS News in New York, where he eventually hosted a morning news program called Calendar on top of doing commentator and special news narration duties.

JFK Assassination

Reasoner took part in covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963. Walter Cronkite and Charles Collingwood had been switching back and forth to report on the incident for about four hours after Cronkite initially broke the news at 1:40 P.M. EST. Reasoner took over the anchor chair after Collingwood tossed it to him at 5:49 p.m. EST, and opened with the repeat of an announcement by Frank Stanton, then president of CBS, which had already been relayed by Collingwood:

“ Thank you, Charles. As you know, CBS has announced that there will be no commercial announcements and no entertainment programming until President Kennedy's funeral. ”

He later reported on the arrival of Kennedy's body to Washington, D.C. and provided details regarding Lee Harvey Oswald (who was, at that moment, accused only of killing Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit, but not the president until hours later). Reasoner left the desk when Cronkite returned to anchor CBS Evening News at 6:35 p.m. EST. He reappeared in another studio approximately two hours later, to narrate a special program called "John F. Kennedy — A Man of This Century", where he talked about Kennedy's career and the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, until announcing the conclusion of CBS' coverage for that day. (Reasoner also anchored the final coverage of the next day, with a CBS News special titled "A Day to Mourn".)

Reasoner's next appearance came two days later, Sunday, and as he was at the anchor desk, Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby while being moved in the Dallas City Jail. At that very moment, Roger Mudd was filing a report from Washington, describing the President's funeral arrangements.

“ Tomorrow there will be a final hour for the public to pay their final respects to the President before the President leaves Capitol Hill for the last time. The last soldier, milit— ”

At this point, CBS abruptly cut back to Reasoner at the newsroom anchor desk with breaking news.

“ We are now switching to Dallas where they're about to move Lee Oswald, and where there's a scuffle in the police station.”

At the time CBS picked up KRLD's live feed of the city jail basement, Oswald was lying on the floor and Dallas Police were apprehending Ruby. KRLD's reporter on the scene, Bob Huffaker, was heard to say "Oswald has been shot, Oswald has been shot". After the ambulance carrying Oswald sped out of the jail en route to Parkland Hospital, KRLD switched back to CBS in New York where Reasoner replayed the tape from the beginning so the viewers could see Ruby shooting Oswald. Several minutes later, he reported that the Dallas Police had released Ruby's name. (Reasoner was not at the anchor desk when Oswald was declared dead, having been replaced by Cronkite.)

60 Minutes and ABC News

In 1968, Reasoner teamed up with Mike Wallace to begin the 60 Minutes newsmagazine series. On 60 Minutes and elsewhere, he often worked with producer and writer Andy Rooney, who later became a well-known contributor in his own right. In a farewell interview on "60 Minutes" in 2011, Rooney said Reasoner was a great writer in his own right but was lazy, giving Rooney more opportunities to show his writing skills. Rooney and interviewer Morley Safer agreed that Reasoner enjoyed drinking and was "one of the most companionable fellows" they had ever known.

Reasoner joined ABC in 1970 as co-anchor with Howard K. Smith (himself a CBS alumnus) of the ABC Evening News, replacing Frank Reynolds (also a CBS alumnus), who was reassigned as ABC's Washington D.C. correspondent. This lasted until 1975, when Reasoner became sole anchor; Smith did only commentaries from that time until his 1979 retirement. Later in 1976 Reasoner was given another co-anchor, this time it was recent NBC defector Barbara Walters. Walters and Reasoner did not enjoy a close relationship; Reasoner not only did not like sharing the spotlight with a co-anchor but was uncomfortable with Walters' celebrity status. It was also widely believed that Reasoner disliked the idea of a woman anchoring the network news, which he denied, saying "I am trying to keep an open mind about it". The arrangement ended in 1978, with both Reasoner and Walters replaced with a three-anchor format. In June of that year, Reasoner returned to CBS and 60 Minutes where he remained until he retired in May 1991.

Personal life and Death

Reasoner was married twice, to Kathleen Carroll Reasoner for 34 years and then to Lois Harriett Weber. He had seven children by his first marriage. Reasoner died three months after his retirement in 1991 from a blood clot in the brain received from a fall at his home in Westport, Connecticut. He is interred at Union Cemetery in Humboldt.

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Harry Truman Reasoner's Timeline

Age 68