Saturday, August 28, 2004

From the Los Angeles Times

Veteran KTLA Anchor Dies

Larry McCormick, 71, died today after a lengthy illness.

Times Staff Writer

Larry McCormick, a longtime television journalist and one of the first African American newsmen in Los Angeles, died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a lengthy illness. He was 71.

Throughout his 43-year broadcasting career, McCormick hosted musical programs, radio and television talk shows, TV game shows, and did football play-by-play. He wrote, narrated and produced television and radio documentaries.

McCormick joined the KTLA station in 1971 as a weathercaster and was later an anchor and a news reporter. He was also co-anchor of "Making It: Minority Success Stories," the station's weekly public affairs series.

As a television journalist, McCormick took a leadership role in the Los Angeles African-American community, organizing or emceeing more than 2,100 programs over the past 30 years.

"Your responsibility will be triple those of your non-African American counterparts," McCormick said in 1997 when he won the Mel Goode Lifetime Achievement Award, an award named for the nation's first African American television journalist. "You will find yourself reporting about your people, to your people, and explaining about your people. And you will have to do it while upholding your objectivity. It's not easy to be on-camera and deliver a very negative story about your culture."

Los Angeles Urban League Chairman John Mack, a close friend of McCormick for more than 30 years, said the African American journalist played an important role as one of the region's first minorities to appear regularly on radio and then television broadcasts.

"He clearly was a pioneer," said Mack, who lived near McCormick in the Lafayette Square section of Los Angeles. "He was a role model, especially for other African American news personnel."

Among his contemporaries, McCormick was seen as a professional and a gentlemen - a relatively hard line to walk in the sometimes cutthroat world of television journalism.

"Larry taught me how to be an anchorperson," said Marta Waller, McCormick's weekend co-anchor at KTLA and a 20-year co-worker. "He never tried to upstage anyone. He was always looking out for what was best for the station. He gave of himself the whole time."

KNBC anchor Paul Moyer, himself a longtime veteran of Los Angeles broadcasting, described McCormick as a "consummate professional."

"He was old school polite, gracious," said Moyer, who recalls listening to McCormick's radio broadcasts on KFWB. "He never talked down to his audience. He was just really, really solid."

McCormick won numerous awards for his professional and community work. In 1994, he won the "Governor's Award," the highest honor presented annually by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

He was nominated for several Emmy awards, and was the recipient of numerous Golden Mike awards. In 2002, McCormick received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"Larry McCormick was the gold standard not only for African Americans journalists, but for all broadcast journalists in this town," said Tony Cox, a Los Angeles broadcaster on television and radio for 35 years, who also is a weekly host for the "Tavis Smiley Show" on National Public Radio. "He was smooth, articulate, a great guy and a great influence for me. His style was one that I tried to copy in my own career."

A theater major at Kansas State University before switching to broadcasting, McCormick portrayed TV newscasters in more than 80 television and motion picture dramas.

McCormick was a former Negro League baseball player in his early years and an avid tennis player.

McCormick is survived by his wife, Anita, of Los Angeles and his three children, Alvin, Mitch and Kitty. Survivors also include two grandchildren, David and Benjamin.

Flowers will be placed on his star on the Walk of Fame at 5:15 p.m. today.

Times staff writers Jesus Sanchez and Daryl Strickland contributed to this report.

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