Walter Cronkite, the legendary CBS Evening News anchor once celebrated as "the most trusted man in America," has died. He was 92.
"My father, Walter Cronkite, died," The New York Times quoted his son, Chip, as saying. The newsman's family said last month he was seriously ill with cerebrovascular disease.
CBS interrupted its programming to run his obituary.
Cronkite, known for his gravelly voice and tell-it-like-it-is reporting, anchored CBS' nightly newscast for 19 years, signing off each broadcast with his now-famous catchphrase, "And that's the way it is." He was the voice America turned to for reports on some of the nation's most memorable moments, including the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
During an era when many more Americans tuned into the evening news, "Uncle Walter's" steadiness steered viewers through turbulent times. Yet Cronkite was also endeared to the public for famously tearing up when reporting the death of President Kennedy.
His reach and influence were profound. After Cronkite returned from Vietnam and reported in an editorial that the war was unwinnable, President Lyndon B. Johnson famously said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Mo. in 1916 and dropped out of the University of Texas during his junior year to cover news and sports for local newspapers. He joined United Press in 1937 and served as a battlefield correspondent during World War II, covering battles in North Africa and Europe. After the war, he covered the Nuremburg trials and opened UP bureaus in Amsterdam and Brussels.
He joined CBS in 1950 as a Washington correspondent after being recruited by Edward R. Murrow. Twelve years later he was named anchor of the network's 15-minute newscast, which became the first 30-minute network news broadcast in 1963. He led the program to No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings. He retired in 1981 and was succeeded by Dan Rather.
Cronkite's work received a Peabody Award, an Emmy and a George Polk Journalism Award. In 1985, Arizona State University named its journalism school in Cronkite's honor.
An avid sailor, Cronkite wrote the text for two books — South by Southeast and North by Northeast — based on his impressions of sailing the waterways from Chesapeake Bay to Key West. His 1996 autobiography, A Reporter's Life, was a bestseller.
In 2006, Cronkite remarked about his own mortality. "When you get to be 89, you have to think about it a little bit," he said. "It doesn't prey on me, and it doesn't keep me awake nights. Occasionally, when I'm upset about something else, I think, 'My gosh, I don't know if I should do this or that because I'm not sure I'll be here that long to enjoy it.'"