About Ed Bradley
Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was born on June 22, 1941 in a working-class section of Philadelphia, PA. He was raised, for the most part, by his mother Gladys, who always held down at least two jobs in restaurants, factories, or housekeeping. Young "Butch," as he was called, maintained a pleasant relationship with his father, visiting him in Detroit where he owned a restaurant and a vending machine service and worked more than 16 hours a day. His parents' strong work ethic was an important influence - as was the encouragement of the nuns at the predominantly black Catholic school he attended when he was young. Walter Cronkite also served as an early inspiration to Bradley, who recalled being fascinated by the fact that Cronkite was always somewhere in the field with astronauts or presidents, rather than just reading news in a studio. From Thomas More High School, Bradley went on to Cheyney State College in Cheyney, PA. He played center and defensive end on the school football team, earned the nickname "Big Daddy," and graduated with a degree in Education. Back in Philadelphia, he landed a job as a sixth grade teacher at William B. Mann Elementary School.
During his three-year stint as a teacher, Bradley took on a second job at the local radio station, WDAS - first as a volunteer and eventually earning $1.50 an hour. He had been a fan of jazz since he was a teenager, and expanded his music knowledge in the station's huge jazz archives. Almost immediately he decided that he had been born to be on the radio. He read the news on air, and convinced the station manager that they should broadcast local basketball games and he should be their sports reporter, despite the fact that he had no experience doing so. He began studying the CBS news hourly reports, analyzing the elements of their stories, and learning by example. He made his first big push into journalism during a riot in 1965, when he went to the local scene, called the radio station, grabbed a few people to interview, and put together a report on the fly. The experience was the closest to Cronkite he had ever come at that point - actually reporting from a scene instead of just reading news feeds from the station booth. His natural journalistic instincts for both dogged research and compassionate listening had found a home in journalism. As much as he loved spinning jazz records and teaching, neither of those had the potential to take him around the world and provide a better living.
In 1967, Bradley joined the staff at news radio station WCBS in New York, where he had to convince station managers that he would be able to cover all kinds of stories - not just "black" stories. After several years learning the ropes in the news radio world, Bradley took a vacation to Paris and fell in love with the city. At the age of 30, he packed up his savings and moved to Paris to live the Bohemian dream. He was able to supplement his lifestyle by working as a freelancer for CBS News, and fortunately the Paris Peace Talks provided enough action for regular paychecks. In 1972, Bradley volunteered to cover the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia for CBS, boldly entering combat areas and interacting with soldiers and countrymen. During this time, he became one of the first black journalists to be prominently featured on network television. While in Cambodia in 1973, he was injured in a mortar attack, receiving shrapnel wounds to his back and arm. He was transferred to Washington D.C. to cover the Capitol, but found the work boring and requested to return to Southeast Asia, where he remained in the war zone until 1975.
CBS called Bradley back to Washington in 1976, where he became the first black White House TV correspondent and also anchored the "CBS Sunday Night News." Never happy to be tied down to an office and regular routine for too long, Bradley was free to travel the world once again in 1978, when he became a principal correspondent for "CBS Reports." In 1979 he received his first Emmy for a piece on Vietnamese boat people, and, in a startling display of compassion and bravery, was shown pulling refugees to safety from the ocean. The story caught the attention of "60 Minutes" founder and executive producer Don Hewitt. Several years later, when Walter Cronkite retired from the nightly news and was replaced by "60 Minutes" correspondent Dan Rather, Hewitt tapped Bradley to fill the gap on television's highest-rated, most respected, most-awarded news magazine. Bradley became the first African-American journalist on Sunday night's infamous ticking stopwatch, and ironically enough, landed there indirectly thanks to his childhood role model, Walter Cronkite.
Bradley was an esteemed member of the "60 Minutes" pantheon for 26 years, logging over 500 stories and earning a total of 19 Emmy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2005. Among his best remembered pieces were a report on the re-opened murder case of Emmett Till (2005); "The Catholic Church on Trial" (2002) about allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic church; "Columbine" (2001); "Death by Denial" (2000) about AIDS in Africa; "Made in China" (1991) about forced labor camps; and "Schizophrenia" (1985). His stories were lauded for their commitment to objectivity and for Bradley's relentless pursuit of the truth - something which he achieved through a direct, soft-spoken manner. He was not one to ambush subjects or intimidate them into revealing themselves, and was often cited for his patience and ability to let silence unfold and speak as loudly as words.
This quiet aspect of Bradley's personality made his interviews with celebrities and newsmakers some of his most revered, as he was able to draw out such personal portraits of diverse personalities like boxer Muhammad Ali, comic actor Robin Williams, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, comedian George Burns, murderer-author Jack Henry Abbott, and one of the most popular interviews of his career with legendary jazz vocalist, Lena Horne. Bradley had declared the Emmy-winning Horne story to be one of the favorites of his career, and once said, "If I arrive at the pearly gates and St. Peter said 'What have you done to deserve entry?' I'd ask, 'Did you see my Lena Horne story?'"
Away from the world of network news, Bradley was known as a lifelong lover of jazz, and counted New Orleans greats Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Neville among his best friends. Bradley was a common sight at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, sometimes as a fan and sometimes joining his friends on stage. This earned him yet another nickname, "the fifth Neville Brother." In 1995, Bradley was asked to join the board of Jazz at Lincoln Center, so for the next 10 years until the time of his death, he hosted "Jazz from Lincoln Center," an NPR radio show of concerts dedicated to various jazz greats. As a champion of the frequently under-funded and overlooked genre, he was also instrumental in creating a new jazz facility at the Center.
As with jazz, his early love of sports followed him throughout his life, and Bradley held season tickets for the New York Knicks for 20 years. The day of his death, the team held a moment of pre-game silence for their longtime supporter. Bradley was also an avid skier, and maintained a home in the mountains of Colorado where he also spent time with his friend and fellow journalist, the late Hunter S. Thompson.
Bradley was married three times; the first two ended in divorce. He married his third wife, Haitian-born artist and filmmaker Patricia Blanchet, in 2004 after a 10-year courtship. In 2004, Bradley was diagnosed with leukemia, but was treated and declared in remission until October 2006, when he contracted pneumonia and the disease reappeared. Few friends or co-workers were aware of his sudden decline over the last few weeks of his life, though his 6-foot-frame had become quite gaunt. Bradley kept his struggle quiet, not wanting to elicit sympathy. His final piece for "60 Minutes" - an investigation of an oil refinery explosion in Texas - aired on October 29, the day he was admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. Among the close friends at his bedside when he passed away on November 9, were his wife, musician Jimmy Buffett, and fellow African-American journalist, Charlayne Hunter-Gault. A lively, jazz-filled memorial service and celebration of this man's amazing life was held on November 21 at Riverside Church in New York.
|Priscilla Coolidge. married in 1981; divorced in 1984|
|Cheyney State College, Cheyney , Pennsylvania|
|Recieved an Emmy for his interview of condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh for "60 Minutes"; the only television interview ever given by the man guilty of one of the worst terrorist acts on American soil|
|Earned a Peabody Award for his African AIDS report, "Death By Denial"|
|"Town Under Siege," about a small town battling toxic waste, was named one of the Ten Best Television Programs of 1997 by Time magazine|
|Earned Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for "CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America," a documentary about violence in America, for which he was co-anchor and reporter|
|Won 11th Emmy Award for a "60 Minutes" segment on the cruel effects of nuclear testing in the town of Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan|
|Anchor of CBS News' "Street Stories"|
|Received an Emmy Award for his "60 Minutes" report "Made in China," a look at Chinese forced-labor camps|
|Floor correspondent for CBS News' coverage of both National Conventions|
|Floor correspondent for CBS News' coverage of Democratic National Convention|
|Joined the staff of "60 Minutes," when Dan Rather left to replace Walter Cronkite as the anchor of the CBS Evening News.|
|Floor correspondent for Democratic and Republican National Conventions|
|Principal correspondent for "CBS Reports"|
|Joined the "CBS Sunday Night News" as anchor|
|Acted as floor correspondent for CBS News' coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions|
|Covered the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter during Campaign '76|
|CBS News White House correspondent|
|Returned to Indochina and covered fall of Cambodia and Saigon|
|Reassigned to CBS News Washington bureau|
|Wounded while on assignment in Cambodia|
|Named CBS News correspondent|
|Transfered to CBS News Saigon bureau|
|Joined CBS News as a stringer in their Paris bureau|
|Reporter for WCBS Radio in New York|
|Reporter for WDAS Radio in Philadelphia|