Born: August 20, 1946, in Washington, D.C.
Longtime resident of Middletown, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2016: Arts & Letters
Connie Chung has enjoyed a career of firsts. In 1993, she became the first woman to co-anchor “CBS Evening News,” as well as the first Asian American to anchor one of America’s major newscasts. And when there was a big interview to get, she was often the first to land it.
The youngest of 10 children, Chung was born one year after her family emigrated to America from China. Her father, a diplomat for Nationalist China, settled the family in Washington, D.C., where Chung was raised.
Chung earned a degree in journalism at the University of Maryland in 1969 and took a job at WTTG-TV in Washington, where she worked her way up to reporter. Two years later, CBS News hired her as a Washington-based correspondent. Her first big exclusive was an interview with President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
In 1976, Chung moved to Los Angeles where she served as co-anchor at CBS-owned KNXT-TV. Chung jumped backed into network news in 1983 with NBC, which brought her to New York to anchor its new “NBC News at Sunrise” program as well as the weekend edition of “NBC Nightly News.” She also frequently filled in for weeknight anchor Tom Brokaw and co-hosted two magazine shows with Roger Mudd.
By 1989, Chung was back at CBS, where she hosted the short-lived “Saturday Night With Connie Chung,” a program that mixed hard news with celebrity interviews. She also anchored the “CBS Sunday Evening News.”
Chung was firmly established as a star in the world of TV news in 1993 when she landed her ground-breaking co-anchor role on CBS’s weeknight news show with Dan Rather. Not only was she the first Asian American to anchor one of America’s major newscasts, she was the second women to take on such a role, preceded only by Barbara Walters (at ABC in 1976).
Chung’s professional partnership with Rather was not an easy one. After it ended, Chung jumped to ABC, where she co-hosted the Monday edition of the magazine show “20/20” with Charles Gibson. She later hosted a nightly show on CNN and a weekend program on MSNBC with her husband, Maury Povich.
Throughout her career at five major networks, Chung scored numerous high-profile interviews, including sit-downs with such controversial figures as convicted wife killer Claus von Bulow and disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. She was the first journalist to interview basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson after he announced he was HIV-positive.
And then there was her early-career interview with Nixon, which Chung claims occurred quite by accident. “I happened to be walking into the White House, and he’s just standing there,” she later told talk show host Andy Cohen. The quick-thinking Chung got Nixon talking and went on the air that night with her scoop.