Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And That's The Way It Is

And That's The Way It Is

Last Friday, one of broadcast journalism's greatest and most respected pioneers Walter Cronkite died at the age of 92.

So why would I write about him on a blog devoted to live theatre? Well, for starters, Cronkite often joked that it was his long secret ambition to be a song-and-dance man of the stage and screen.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why he allowed his voice to be used in two Broadway productions, including the revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1995) and Gore Vidal's The Best Man (2000). The latter show ranked as one of my personal favorites of the 2000-01 Theatrical Season.

Another reason for writing about the man dubbed "Uncle Walter" is that for as long as I can remember in my lifetime, he was an essential part of the fabric of American life. His integrity was one of the reasons he was proclaimed as the most trusted man in America.

In 1994, I enjoyed my own personal opportunity to meet him in a very unlikely place: Lisbon, Portugal. Cronkite was among an impressive roster of speakers and entertainers -- including President George H.W. Bush, the late Charles Kuralt, Marvin Hamlisch and Maureen McGovern -- the trade association where I worked had brought to the Portugese capital as part of its annual convention.

Being one of the organization's PR people, I was often made a minder for some of our dignitaries, including helping them get to where they needed to be next. In the case of this 1994 meeting, I was instructed to go to our version of a green room to collect President Bush. When I walked into the green room, there was our 41st President, deep in conversation with his former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Walter Cronkite. I actually had to interrupt their conversation, but was quite relieved that the three took it all in stride and good humor, avoiding making my awkward moment an awkward situation.

As he helped sooth a troubled nation time and again, providing relief and respite from countless awkward situations, Walter Cronkite and his voice will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB), and that's the way it is.

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At 23 July, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

I think I remember your telling me once that you had to interrupt a conversation between George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft and how gracious the former president was. But I didn't realize (or maybe I forgot) that Walter Cronkite was there, too. Thanks for the rest of the story! And I didn't know about his Broadway connections either.

At 23 July, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, great tribute!


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