Eric Sevareid

26 Nov 1912
9 Jul 1992
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Arnold Eric Sevareid (November 26, 1912 – July 9, 1992) was a CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977.

He was one of a group of elite war correspondents hired by pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, and thus dubbed “Murrow’s Boys”.

He was the first to report the fall of Paris when it was captured by the Germans during World War II.
Traveling into Burma during World War II, his aircraft was shot down and he was rescued from behind enemy lines by a search and rescue team established for that purpose.

He was the final journalist to interview Adlai Stevenson before his death. After a long and distinguished career, he followed in Murrow’s footsteps as a commentator on the CBS Evening News for 12 years for which he was recognized with Emmy and Peabody Awards.

Sevareid was a child of the northern Great Plains, born in Velva, North Dakota, to Alfred E. and Clara H. Sevareid. Following the failure of the bank in Velva in 1925, his family moved to Minot, and then to Minneapolis, Minnesota, settling on 30th Avenue North. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1935. Of Norwegian ancestry, he preserved a strong bond with Norway throughout his life.

Sevareid was adventurous from a young age. Several days after he graduated from high school, he and his friend Walter Port embarked on an expedition sponsored by the Minneapolis Star, from Minneapolis to York Factory on Hudson Bay.

They canoed up the Minnesota River and its tributary, the Little Minnesota River to Browns Valley, Minnesota, portaged to Lake Traverse and descended the Bois des Sioux River to the Red River of the North which led to Lake Winnipeg, then went down the Nelson River, Gods River, and Hayes River to Hudson Bay, a trip of 2,250 miles (3,620 km). Sevareid’s book, Canoeing with the Cree, was the result of this canoe trip. The book is still in print.

At the age of 18, Sevareid entered journalism as a reporter for the Minneapolis Journal, while a student at the University of Minnesota in political science. He continued his studies abroad, first in London and later in Paris at the Sorbonne, where he also worked as an editor for United Press.

He then became city editor of the Paris Herald Tribune. He left that post to join CBS as a foreign correspondent, based in Paris; he broadcast the fall of Paris, and followed the French government from there to Bordeaux and then Vichy, before leaving France for London and finally Washington. He was appointed CBS’s Washington bureau chief in July, 1942.

He wrote about the Plains influence on his life in his early memoir Not So Wild A Dream (1946), which covered his life in Velva, his family, the Hudson Bay trip, hitchhiking around the USA, mining in the Sierra Nevada, the Great Depression years, his early journalism and especially his experiences in World War II. This book remains in print.

Sevareid married the former Lois Finger. They had twin sons, Peter and Michael, born in Paris the morning of April 25, 1940, while Sevareid was stationed there as a war correspondent for CBS.

Eric Sevareid died of stomach cancer on July 9, 1992, aged 79. Dan Rather gave a eulogy at his funeral. He was survived by his wife, two sons from his first marriage, and a daughter from his second marriage.

Sevareid portrayed himself in movies and on TV. He appeared as himself in The Right Stuff, Countdown to Looking Glass, and on Taxi as Tony Danza’s character’s fantasy.

The bumbling local-market newscaster Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) frequently compared himself to Sevareid on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

In a second-season episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche (Rue McClanahan) says that in certain lighting, Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur) looks just like Eric Sevareid.

A spoof of Eric Sevareid named “Eric Clarified” appeared in the “Laugh-In Looks at the News” skits of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In which ran from 1968–1973.

The patriotic character “Sam the Eagle” on The Muppet Show has a ‘Sevareid-ian’ complex.

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