Trailblazing journalist Shana Alexander, whose verbal skirmishes with conservative James J. Kilpatrick on CBS’ early “60 Minutes” feature “Point/Counterpoint” were spoofed in “Saturday Night Live” skits, died June 23 of cancer in Hermosa Beach She was 79.
Alexander — whose mother, Cecilia Ager, was a columnist for Variety — was a columnist herself, becoming Life magazine’s first female staff writer and penning the mag’s award-winning “The Feminine Eye” feature in the 1960s.
Vassar College grad first worked as a freelance writer for Junior Bazaar and Mademoiselle and became entertainment editor at Flair magazine before going to work at Life as a researcher in 1951.
In 1969, she became the first female editor of McCall’s, where she retooled and redesigned the mag’s coverage beyond domestic issues. She quit in 1971, later referring to the post as tokenism in a sexist environment.
She became a columnist for Newsweek magazine and in 1975 was teamed with conservative Washington Star columnist Kilpatrick for the new “60 Minutes’ ” barbed “Point/Counterpoint” exchange at the end of the show, a gig the two held for four years.
New York City native Alexander’s father was Tin Pan Alley composer Milton Ager, who penned “Happy Days Are Here Again,” “Hard-Hearted Hannah” and “Ain’t She Sweet.”