Edward R. Murrow's distinguished career seemed destined for national and international service, beginning with his college days at Washington State College as president of the National Student Federation and with his first job as Assistant Director of the Institute of International Education, both requiring extensive travel abroad.
In 1935 he began a 25-year career with the Columbia Broadcasting System, first as Director of Talks and Education, then as European Director. Subsequently, with the outbreak of World War II and until his resignation in 1961, his years with CBS as a war correspondent, executive, journalist and news analyst spanned an historic period with the advent of global radio and television coverage, during which time he set unparalleled standards of truthful and thoughtful broadcast journalism. His face and voice made an indelible impression as he brought world events and personalities into the homes of millions of Americans with his first trans-Atlantic radio broadcasts describing the War as he saw it on "This... is London," and on the nightly radio series "Edward R. Murrow with the News" from 1947 to mid-1959. Two record albums of Murrow broadcasts were produced: "Edward R. Murrow - A Reporter Remembers, Vol. 1: The War Years, 1939-1946" and "Vol. II: 1948-1961."
He rose to television fame with "See It Now," the news documentary narrated by him and co-produced with Fred W. Friendly, which included two of the most historic and controversial programs - on March 9, 1954 when Murrow focused on Joseph R. McCarthy, the Junior Senator from Wisconsin, and "McCarthyism," and on April 6th, with CBS providing time and production facilities, when McCarthy delivered a personal attack on Murrow in rebuttal, and in so doing precipitated his own downfall. The "I Can Hear It Now" record albums and the subsequent series "Hear It Now," "Small World," and "CBS Reports" were also done in association with Executive Producer Fred W. Friendly.
The "Person to Person" series found Murrow visiting two top national personalities each week in their homes by means of television. On "Small World" Murrow, through transoceanic telephone conversations and simultaneous filming, brought together important and interesting world figures in wide-ranging, news-making conversations. "CBS Reports" found Murrow reporting in depth on more controversial and significant issues. For a decade Murrow brought together at year's end leading CBS news correspondents from around the world in the series "years of crisis" to assess vital world events and problems. His presentation of a half-hour Sunday afternoon radio program called "Background" was designed to analyze the cause and effect of current events. By the end of 1960 this series concluded his broadcasts with CBS and his resignation became effective in January 1961.
It was most fitting that President Kennedy chose him to be the Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), sworn in on March 21, 1961, because of the high esteem in which he was held nationally and internationally. His leadership, experience and personal qualities of intelligence, integrity and courage rendered high service to his country as he fulfilled his commitment as Director "to tell the world about America," which he did until illness forced him to resign in January 1964.
Innumerable awards and honors were bestowed on Murrow by professional and civic organizations, and honorary titles from the governments of Belgium, England, France and Sweden. In 1964 President Johnson awarded him the Medal of Freedom, and in the following March Queen Elizabeth named him an Honorable Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He was the recipient of fifteen honorary degrees.
Through his broad understanding of issues and his concern for them as well as his prestige, he made a substantial contribution as he served as member, Trustee or on the Board for various foundations, organizations and clubs, among them the Association of American Correspondents, London, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Centruy Club, CBS Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, Ford Foundation Board on Overseas Training and Research, Institute of International Education, Milton Academy, Overseas Press Club, Salk Institute, Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Sigma and Sigma Delta Chi. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve.
Born on April 25, 1908 Near Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Roscoe and Ethel Murrow, at an early age he moved with his family to the State of Washington where he lived through his college years. On October 27, 1934 he married Janet Huntington Brewster of Middletown, Connecticut. Murrow died at his home Glen Arden in Pawling, New York at age 57 on April 27, 1965. He is survived by his son, Charles Casey Murrow.