Former “NBC Nightly News” correspondent Richard “Dick” Valeriani died early Monday at his home in New York City. He was 85.
Valeriani began his news career in the late 1950s at the Associated Press, when he was dispatched to Cuba to report on the Bay of Pigs in 1961. He was hired by NBC News while in Cuba and was the last American journalist ousted from the country following Fidel Castro’s revolution. At NBC, he served for years as an on-air correspondent for “NBC Nightly News” and co-anchored “Today” from the Washington, D.C. bureau.
Valeriani earned recognition for his coverage of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. He was assigned as NBC Senior White House Correspondent during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, a role that landed him on President Nixon’s famous “enemies list.” He also covered the State Department and wrote about his time with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his 1979 book “Travels with Henry.”
A native of Camden, N.J., Valeriani began his news career while attending Yale University, where he was the sports reporter of the Yale Daily News. After Yale, he received two scholarships to study at the University of Pavia in Italy and at the University of Barcelona, but was drafted into the U.S. Army after his time in Italy.
After leaving NBC News in 1988, Valeriani had a brief role as a CNN correspondent in the 1995 actioner “Crimson Tide.” He also switched careers to become a prominent media trainer starting in 1996. His clients included Kathryn Bigelow, Sumner Redstone, Jimmy Fallon, Ted Danson, executives from Ford Motor Co., IBM, Merck, as well as senior government officials in the U.S. and abroad.
Valeriani is survived by his wife of 38 years, Kathie Berlin, a daughter and two grandchildren.
The family requests that donations be made in support of charities Valeriani supported that are devoted to helping the blind: the Seeing Eye, the Guide Dog Foundation, or Guiding Eyes for the Blind.