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Leslie Midgley

Emmy- and Peabody-winning news producer

Multiple Emmy- and Peabody-winning news producer Leslie Midgley, who pioneered the “instant special” for television, died June 19 of pneumonia in White Plains, N.Y. He was 87.

Newspaper journo for 15 years before shifting to TV, he was in charge of all primetime news coverage at CBS at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Over the four days from the shooting in Dallas to the funeral at Arlington, Midgley pioneered continuous coverage. A year later, he headed a four-part analysis of the Warren Commission report on the assassination.

During the course of his career with CBS News, he producing more than 1,500 programs and earned three Emmy Awards and six Peabody Awards. From 1967-72 he was executive producer of “The Evening News With Walter Cronkite.”

Salt Lake City native attended the U. of Utah worked at a succession of newspapers as a reporter, rewrite man and city editor, including 10 years with the N.Y. Herald-Tribune, including its Paris office. After that, he editing for such magazines Collier’s and Look, where he was managing editor.

In 1954, he joined CBS and became a producer of a half-hour news show featuring Eric Sevareid. By 1956, he was producing instant specials on major international events, followed by producing the weekly “Eyewitness to History.”

He retired in 1980 working exclusively on documentaries. He worked briefly for NBC News as vice president for special programs, then left to teach.

He was widowed by first wife Jean Burke in 1965 and second wife Betty Furness, the consumer advocate, in 1994.

He is survived by three children with Burke, a stepdaughter, two sisters, a brother, two grandchildren and one step-granddaughter.

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