Jessica Savitch

Jessica Beth Savitch (February 1, 1947-October 23, 1983) was a well-known American television broadcaster and news reporter.

Life and career

Savitch grew up in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about thirty-five miles from Philadelphia. She attended Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where she worked at the campus radio and TV stations and at WBBF, an AM outlet in Rochester. After graduating in the spring of 1968, Savitch worked at various radio and TV stations, including WCBS in New York and KHOU in Houston. She then became a popular local television newscaster at KYW, the former NBC affiliate (now CBS) in Philadelphia, and a Washington correspondent for NBC News. Thanks to her screen presence and attractive style, she was eventually promoted to the news anchor of the weekend NBC Nightly News, and she also anchored Frontline on PBS. Her autobiography, Anchorwoman, was published in 1982. Savitch had a stormy ten year relationship with news diretor Ron Kershaw and was married twice. Her first marriage to advertising executive Mel Korn ended in divorce; her second husband, gynecologist Donald Payne, committed suicide only a few months after their wedding.

On October 3, 1983 Savitch anchored a mid-evening news update called NBC News Digest, during which she was possibly under the influence of drugs. She slurred some words and skipped others entirely. Savitch had been suspected of abusing drugs in the past, and this 43-second performance, broadcast live and seen by millions of viewers across the United States, seemed to confirm those suspicions.


On Sunday, October 23, 1983, Savitch had dinner with Martin Fischbein, vice-president of the New York Post, in New Hope, Pennsylvania. After the meal at Odette’s Restaurant, they began to drive home about 7:15 PM, with Fischbein behind the wheel and Savitch in the back seat with her dog, Chewy. Fischbein may have missed posted warning signs in a heavy rainfall, and he drove out of the wrong exit from the restaurant and up the towpath of the old Delaware Division Canal on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. The car veered too far to the left and went over the edge into the shallow water of the canal. After falling approximately fifteen feet and landing upside down, the station wagon sank into deep mud which sealed the doors shut. Savitch and Fischbein were trapped inside as water poured in. A local resident found the wreck at about 11:30 that night. Fischbein’s body was still strapped behind the wheel, with Savitch and her dog in the rear. After the subsequent autopsies, the Bucks County coroner ruled that both had died from asphyxiation (by drowning). He noted that Fischbein was apparently knocked unconscious in the wreck but Savitch had struggled to escape. There was no finding that drugs or alcohol had played any part in the crash.


Savitch’s estate was awarded over $8 million in a wrongful death action. Some of the money was used to set up college scholarships. The Jessica Savitch Distinguished Journalism lecture series is held at her alma mater, Ithaca College.

Jessica Savitch’s life was the subject of a Lifetime Television made-for-TV movie starring Sela Ward. A theatrical movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Up Close & Personal, was originally intended as a biographical film about Savitch. However, the movie became a A Star is Born-style entertainment instead, possibly because of a belief that Savitch’s life was too downbeat to be popular at the box office.

Here you will see her in action, she had to give a 42 second update on Primetime television and her crew did not have a countdown, check what happens:

Our very first Biatch!

“I went out and said, I can’t be on the college stations, so I’ll go around to all the commercial stations and see if I can’t find a job.”
— Jessica Savitch

Via: Wikipedia

3 Responses to Jessica Savitch

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  2. Oona says:

    Jessica was in the back seat of the car with her dog Chewy and Martin Fischbein was driving, wearing a seat belt. It was raining hard. He took a wrong turn up a lane that bordered a canal (rather than onto a real road). He slipped off the left and the station wagon tumbled fifteen feet down the side of the canal bank and landed upside down in five feet of mud, which prevented the car doors from being opened. Fischbein was knocked unconsious, but Jessica struggled in vain to escape. A terrible way to go.

  3. Murray says:

    She was very hot.

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