He Had the Most Civil Of Tongues: NBC Newsman Edwin Newman, 91, Dies

Sep 15, 2010  •  Post A Comment

newman1.jpgEdwin Newman, the longtime NBC newsman, has died at age 91, according to a number of media reports. The reports did not list a cause of death.

Says the New York TImes in its report, "Mr. Newman, recognizable for his balding head and fierce dark eyebrows, was known to three decades of postwar television viewers for his erudition, droll wit and seemingly limitless penchant for puns. He began his association with NBC in the early 1950s and was variously a correspondent, anchorman and critic there before retiring in 1984."

The Times also says, "An anchor on the “Today” show in the early 1960s and a familiar presence on the program for many years afterward, Mr. Newman also appeared regularly on “Meet the Press.” He won seven New York Emmy Awards for his work in the 1960s and ’70s with NBC’s local affiliate, WNBC-TV, on which he was a drama critic and the host of the interview program “Speaking Freely.”

Newman was also well known for his books about the English language, "Strictly Speaking" and A Civil Tongue."

Here’s a clip of Newman giving a show-ending commentary about the New York Worlds Fair in an NBC special on the Fair in 1964:


  1. In memory of Edwin Newman and “A Civil Tongue” today let’s all refrain from using the word “hopefully” when we mean “we hope.”
    Newman was a frequent guest host of the TODAY Show and in 1971 famously clashed with “Toastmaster General” Georgie Jessell, the ultra-conservative former Vaudevillian who became an ardent supporter of the War in Vietnam, often appearing in his (honorary) general’s dress uniform.
    After calling war protesters “communists” and the NY Times “Pravda,” Newman ended the interview and ejected Jessell from the studio. Returning from a commercial break, Newman apologized if he seemed rude, but added he could not permit such irresponsible accusations. Gene Shalit was nearly speechless — an additional public service.

  2. You always knew where Newman was coming from. More than once he got a famous David Brinkley verbal chuckle following one of his tongue-in-cheek reports. We may not have always agreed with his observation on a particular subject, but we did know that he took the time to fully look into the subject at hand in order to reach his summation. The reporter business has a void to fill.
    Peter Bright

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