Roger Grimsby

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Born

9/23/1928

Died

6/23/1995

Birth Name

Gender

Male

Biography:

Born on Sept. 23, 1928 and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, Roger Grimsby was a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, studied history at Columbia University's graduate school under a CBS fellowship, and served in the Korean War. He worked in stations around Wisconsin, plus a two-year stint (1959-1961) with KMOX-TV (now KMOV) in St. Louis, before becoming the anchor and news director at ABC-owned KGO-TV in San Francisco in 1961. It was from there that, in 1968, he was brought to WABC-TV in New York, initially to anchor their 11 P.M. newscast. Only a few months after his arrival, the station revamped all its newscasts as Eyewitness News and by April of 1969 Grimsby was anchoring the 6:30 P.M. edition as well (expanded to an hour starting at 6 P.M. beginning in September 1969). It was around this time that Grimsby, who until then was anchoring the newscast solo, was paired first with Tom Dunn (who later went to WOR-TV, now WWOR-TV), and then, from Sept. 28, 1970, with Bill Beutel. The Grimsby/Beutel team clicked almost immediately – the dour-faced, deadpan yet almost loose-cannon Grimsby whose "wisenheimer" approach to delivering the news would be a template for many "fake-news" anchors in the years to come (for example, his now-famous sign-on, "Good evening, I'm Roger Grimsby, here now the news," was lampooned by Saturday Night Live's original "Weekend Update" anchor, Chevy Chase, for his own distinctive catchphrase "Good evening, I'm Chevy Chase and you're not"), and his breezy, bouncy, more centered co-anchor who in later years would describe himself as Grimsby's on-air "censor" – and Eyewitness News became a ratings champ, alternating in first place with rival WCBS-TV and its legendary anchor Jim Jensen; on the other hand, it was also this formula that led to the rise of so-called "Happy Talk" in local TV news. He occasionally showed his true feelings for some of his colleagues on the air – for example, seguing from a report on a garbage strike to a Rona Barrett gossip report thus: "Speaking of garbage, here's Rona Rooter with the latest . . . " During the nearly 16-year span of the on-air Grimsby/Beutel partnership, the likes of Geraldo Rivera, Rose Ann Scamardella, Joan Lunden, Spencer Christian and others became household names through their work on Eyewitness News. The pairing was interrupted for several months in 1975 when Beutel became co-host of ABC's ill-fated AM America (the precursor to Good Morning America), and Grimsby during that period was paired on the early evening news with once-and-future Boston anchor Tom Ellis, and on the late edition with once-and-future Detroit anchor Bill Bonds. After Beutel rejoined Grimsby at the anchor desk, they would remain together until Grimsby's ignominious firing from WABC on April 16, 1986. After a year off, Grimsby joined WNBC-TV's Live at Five as a commentator, remaining from 1987 until 1989, and closed out his broadcasting career anchoring at KUSI-TV in San Diego. Over the years, both during and after his run with WABC, he made several movies including Woody Allen's Bananas, Ghostbusters, The Exterminator and Nothing But Trouble (his final film), plus appearing on some TV shows such as The Equalizer and Ryan's Hope. Grimsby died on June 23, 1995 in New York City of lung cancer at age 66.