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Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

  1. Peter Finch, Network, 1976.      “I’m as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!” Cronkite couldn’t take any of it... “The most trusted man in America,” the TV newsman of the 60s/70s, could hardly have returned to his CBS News chair afterwards. He carried on until 1981. (His daughter, Kathy, played the Patricia Hearstesque radical, Mary Ann Gifford). Finchey won the first posthumous Best Actor Oscar. Ironically, the second was also for an Aussie, Heath Ledger, for The Dark Knight... 33 years later.
  2. Howard K Smith, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977.      “Walter is one of the few big stars I have met who wasn't a disappointment,” said co-producer Julia Phillips. “Old Iron Pants” (he could stay live non-stop for hours: the Moon landing, the JFK assassination, without leaving his chair) was invited by Steven Spielberg to play - what else, a TV news anchor. Cronkite was keen on the film, on Spielberg (he'd watched the Jaws shoot at Martha's Vineyard), but CBS disapproved (wisely) of their news stars acting. ABC was the only network (then) allowing it. So, Smith did another of his cameos; Spielberg had originally avoided him "for that very reason."   CUT to 1992 and a dertain exec producer named Spieberg manages to persuade the now retired Cronkite to voice Captain Neweyes in the Amblin toon, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.
  3. Martin Mull, OC and Stiggs, 1983. On David Letterman’s chat show eight years later, Mull revealed that fcirst choi ce ofr his Pat Coletti role had been the retired CBS news anchor.  MGM ordered a teenage comedy but Altman satirized the breed (well, the story started in National Lampoon). Dennis Hopper sent up his Apocalypse Nowwar photographer among a cast of folk aching to work with director Robert Altman: Jane Curtin, Tina Louise, Melvin Van Peebles, Ray Walston, etc. The result was released - or escaped - in 1987.


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