Thirty years ago I wrote a book about the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. One of the central characters in that book was Jon Ward, a producer for CBS News who ran the network’s coverage of the accident. Ward had actually anticipated such an event, gathering information on all U.S. nuclear plants in case one ever melted-down. My book made Ward a minor celebrity for a millisecond and may have helped his promotion to producer of the CBS Evening News. But the story Ward still likes to tell about that experience was of the waitress at a New York restaurant who asked for his autograph, ignoring completely Ward’s lunch partner, Walter Cronkite, who found the whole event hilarious.
I met Cronkite several times. He was a cub reporter in Kansas City with my friend Martin Quigley and they were lifelong friends, which was a testament to Cronkite if you knew Quigley. Cronkite and Ward partnered for more than 25 years making documentaries and we discussed having Cronkite involved in my Moon shot as recently as last year. It would have been a unique opportunity to see the icon in a reality TV environment. If only I’d been able to raise the money quicker.
Cronkite, like my friend the late Fred Rogers, was exactly as you expected him to be, only funnier. What a great way to be remembered.