Marlene Sanders, a Pioneering Woman in TV News, Dies at 84

Marlene Sanders Dead
Photo Courtesy of WNEW

Marlene Sanders, a trailblazer for women in TV journalism as an on-air talent and executive, died Tuesday of cancer at a hospice in Manhattan.She was 84.

In 1976, Sanders was one of the first women to reach the upper echelons of management when ABC made her VP and director of documentaries. Before that, in 1966, she was one of the first network newswomen to report from the field in Vietnam, the New York Times reported.

Her on-air work was also path-breaking. In 1964, Sanders substituted as ABC’s weekend news anchor for Ron Cochran, who was sidelined with a throat ailment. Later she took over for Sam Donaldson as anchor of ABC’s weekend news for three months in 1971.

Sanders was born in in Cleveland. After attending Ohio State University for a year, she tried her hand at acting, eventually finding work as an assistant on a twice-daily news broadcast and later becoming an assistant news director of WNEW radio in New York.

She is survived by her son, CNN commentator and New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin, and three grandchildren.

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  1. Gail Cohen says:

    Marlene Sanders studied acting with Jasper Deeter Founder of Historic Hedgerow Theatre in 1951. It was Jasper Deeter who told Marlene to go into Television. Marlene always credited Jasper Deeter for her pursuing a career in TV. Her roommate at Hedgerow was actress Tresa Hughes who she kept in touch with lifelong. Marlene was more than a Pioneer. She was a decent and caring person who made America a better place to live.

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