Peter Jennings Dies of Lung Cancer, Aged 67

Peter Jennings, who did two tours of duty as ABC News anchorman, died last night of lung cancer.

Peter Jennings dies of lung cancer (CNN)

Nearly four months to the day since he announced in a hoarse voice on his evening newscast that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, longtime ABC “World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings died Sunday, according to the ABC News network. He was 67.

The solemn announcement was made late Sunday by “Good Morning America” co-host Charles Gibson, who said Jennings died in his New York City apartment. His wife, Kayce, his children Elizabeth and Christopher, and his sister were at his side, Gibson said. He read a statement from the family that said: “Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he had lived a good life.”

At a time when all three U.S. major broadcast networks saw their evening news anchor spots change hands in less than a year, Jennings’ departure was a surprise. Both NBC’s Tom Brokaw and CBS’ Dan Rather announced their plans well in advance, but Jennings’ illness forced a quick decision.

In a written statement Sunday to ABC News staff, network President Dave Westin said: “It is with great sadness I write to say that Peter Jennings passed away earlier this evening. For four decades, he has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him.

While I haven’t watched a regular network newscast in years, I grew up watching Walter Cronkite and then the family switched to ABC when Dan Rather took over. Self-inflicted though it was, this is still quite sad.

His ABC News bio has been updated with a breaking news blurb about his death but is still written in the present tense.

Peter Jennings is the anchor and senior editor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” where he has established a reputation for independence and excellence in broadcast journalism. He is the network’s principal anchor for breaking news, election coverage and special events.

As one of America’s most distinguished journalists, Peter Jennings has reported many of the pivotal events that have shaped our world. He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the ’90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and ’80s. He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, and on the other side of the world when South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland’s communist leaders were forced from power. And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.

The announcment of his death from the network:
Peter Jennings Dies at 67

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died today at his home in New York City. He was 67. On April 5, Jennings announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, and his sister, Sarah Jennings. “Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he’d lived a good life,” his wife and children said in a statement.

In announcing Jennings’ death to his ABC colleagues, News President David Westin wrote: “For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him. As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he’d been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not.

We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do.”


ABC News’ Peter Jennings, five-decade network anchor, dies at 67

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings Dies at 67 (AP)

Previously: Peter Jennings has Lung Cancer

The Blogosphere has lots of coverage.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. RJN says:

    I thought that lung cancer had a genetic causation in most cases, and that, again in most cases, smoking merely increased the risk in susceptible individuals.

  2. J.R says:

    My deepest sympathy goes out to Peter Jennings family. My prayers are with them all. It is so sad to see someone that young go in such a way. I am sure he is up in heaven smiling! 🙂

  3. sheila blankenship says:

    Peter Jennings was the closest thing I had to a father figure. He will be sorely missed.

  4. susan manzi says:

    To the family of Peter Jennings,
    My deepest sympathy for your loss of such a wonderful person. I woke up Monday morning just having a feeling that something bad had happened. I turned on CNN and there it was. That he had died. I’ve been crying about this for 2 days.I cannot imagine what his family is going through.He was the calm in the storms of our time. I always respected and admired and wondered too a bit about he could so calmly report the news. I guess he hid it well, it has to eventually take a toll on you, and it did.He was the only person I could tolerate hearing the news from. He had such a mild, calm manner, but certainly always to the point and gave it to us straight.He came into my home nearly every night for 20 years.I can’t tell you enough how much he will be missed not only by myself, but by MILLIONS of people. I am sure he is in the light, he certainly deserves to be.
    In deepest sympathy,
    Susan Manzi

  5. Lois S. Bakar says:

    We send heartfelt condolences to Peter’s family, Kayce, Elizabeth, Christopher, and his sister Sarah. During the week before he died I began feeling apprehensive about the outcome of his illness because we had not seen him back on the set. I never liked to miss World News with Peter Jennings and now it’s not the same, in spite of the wonderful people who keep it going. When I turned on the radio Monday morning and heard the sad news tears came to my eyes and I realized how much I had really enjoyed seeing and listening to Peter each evening. It wasn’t just the news but the way he oversaw and delivered it.

  6. Ross Nickerson says:

    Dear Jennings Family,
    I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to your family on the passing of Peter Jennings. Watching him nightly for many years made him an integral part of my extended family. I respected his insight, valued his observations of world events and will miss the honesty and frankness he brought to the news. After viewing the many specials pertaining to his life I came to realize what a giving man he was, not only with his family but with the world around him. I hope to emulate his strength through my own medical problems and persevere with dignity. I am sure he is watching down from the heavens with a smile on his face, accepting graciously that fact that he has affected so many people. May God bless him and keep him.
    He will always be in my thoughts and prayers,
    Ross Nickerson