NEW YORK (AP) — Gabe Pressman, an intrepid, Emmy-winning journalist who still relished going to work at the age of 93, died in his sleep early Friday at a Manhattan hospital.
“This is an incredibly sad day for the WNBC family,” said Eric Lerner, president and general manager of the station where Pressman worked for more than 50 years. “He was truly one of a kind and represented the very best in television news reporting.”
Pressman launched his six-decade broadcast career after stints at New Jersey’s Newark Evening News and the New York World Telegram And Sun. He covered the 1956 sinking of the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria, riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Woodstock festival in 1969 and the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
He interviewed every New York City mayor since Robert Wagner in the 1950s and every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. Other notables interviewed by Pressman included Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Malcolm X.
Although he was primarily a broadcast journalist, he “never stopped loving writing,” said his daughter Liz Pressman, who called him “an inspiration.” He wrote on Facebook every few days and enjoyed “a large audience there,” she said.
Pressman starred for years — including April of this year — at Inner Circle, a charity show that pokes fun at politics.
Embracing self-deprecating humor about his age and experience, Pressman closed the show “playing ‘Gabe Madison,’ lecturing Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and President Trump on the First Amendment,” said Inner Circle President Terry Sheridan. “As always, his just appearing on stage would bring down the house.”
Amid the laughter, “there was no greater defender of the First Amendment than Gabe Pressman,” said Steve Scott, president of the New York Press Club, who also praised Pressman as a mentor, “moral compass” and a “tenacious seeker of the truth.”
Pressman graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism. The New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame inductee started working at WRCA radio in 1954. He went to WRCA’s television side, now WNBC, in 1956.
In 1972, Pressman moved to WNEW-TV. He rejoined WNBC in 1980.
And ever since then, “Gabe was still coming to work and thinking about the next story,” Lerner said. On March 17, he covered the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Survivors include his wife, Vera, four children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Funeral services were pending.
This story has been corrected to show that Lerner is president and general manager of the station, not the network.