John Cameron Swayze

John Cameron Swayze

Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, USA
Death 15 Aug 1995 (aged 89)
Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, USA
Burial Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Memorial ID 7256639 · View Source
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Television Newscaster. He is remembered as one of the first TV news anchors. In 1948 the CBS network had the first evening TV news broadcast, and in 1949 the NBC network countered with John Cameron Swayze as their newscaster. In the days of pioneering TV journalism, the news was only a fifteen-minute show with little film footage available. Having a very different approach than today's serious TV journalism, he would begin his broadcast with the almost humorous line “Hopscotching in the world of headlines.” His voice has been called sincere, folksy and trustworthy. Starting TV in 1947, he covered the presidential nominations at both political party conventions, which was a national broadcast. He was a panelist from 1948 to 1951 on the NBC's quiz show, “Who Said That?” and the host of a Sunday children's program, “Watch the World.” Known for his ties, he made the “best-dressed” list for years. He sported a red carnation in his coat lapel, which remained black and white for viewers until the news was broadcast in color in 1954. In 1956, NBC replaced him with the news co-anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. At this point, he became a spokesperson making TV commercials for twenty years for the Timex watch. Referring to the sturdy-made Timex watch, his famous line was “It takes a licking but keeps on ticking!” which made him a household name in the United States. To prove his point, the Timex watch would be strapped to a motorboat propeller, stomped by an elephant, submerged in water, or fasten to the bottom of water skis. He also did TV commercials for H & R Block Income Tax Services, Studebaker automobiles, and the Orkin Pest Control. After winning an oratorical contest in Atchinson High School, he attended the University of Kansas for two years before entering the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City for three years. He wanted to be an actor but only had a few bid parts in Broadway plays. Returning to Kansas after the 1929 stock market crash, he started first as a journalist in 1930 for the Kansas City Journal newspaper before going into radio in 1940. Experimenting with TV, he was given the opportunity to appear in one of the first-ever TV broadcasts in 1933. Usually in the role of a newscaster, he made cameo film appearances in “The Skin of Our Teeth” in 1955, “Inside Detroit” in 1956, “A Face in the Crowd” in 1957, “The Boston Strangler” in 1968 and his last performance, “When Nature Calls” in 1985. Other TV shows were “The Goodyear Playhouse” with two episodes in 1951, “The Bob Hope Show,” “Your Show of Shows,” and “What's My Line?”. He was the host on several TV shows including “To Tell the Truth” from 1959 to 1960, “Chance for Romance,” in 1958, and host and narrator in “Armstrong Circle Theater” from 1955 to 1957. His son, John Cameron Swayze, Jr, followed in his father's footsteps as a newscaster. For his excellence in journalism, he was the recipient of the “Alfred I. DuPont Ward” in 1950. In the montage at the opening of NBC Nightly News, he is the first broadcaster.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 12 Mar 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7256639
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Cameron Swayze (4 Apr 1906–15 Aug 1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7256639, citing Round Hill Community Cemetery, Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .