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KCAL news anchor Jerry Dunphy dies

The veteran newsman was stricken en route to work 5/26/2002 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Although past 80 and already having survived two heart attacks, open-heart surgery and a shooting during a robbery attempt in 1983, Los Angeles news anchor Jerry Dunphy, who died on May 20, was a newsman to the end. He suffered his fatal heart attack May 15 on his way to work.

Dunphy was perhaps the best-known of Los Angeles' broadcast journalists, and he had his own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. His news intro—"From the desert to the sea to all of Southern California"—was heard by generations of Southern Californians.

"We are," said a tearful Pat Harvey as she informed the KCAL(TV) audience of her colleague's death, "painfully aware [that Dunphy's refrain] will never be heard again."

Los Angeles media—notorious for aggressiveness on celebrity stories—had been uncharacteristically quiet about Dunphy's heart attack and hospitalization, apparently adhering to the wishes of his family.

KCAL itself had barely updated the story between the time it reported Dunphy's heart attack Thursday until his death, although the station aired and posted a touching tribute on its Web site. The station also planned an hour-long tribute.

The KCAL story on Dunphy's death recognized not only Dunphy's accomplishments as a broadcast-news pioneer but also his career as a decorated Air Force captain in World War II.

Dunphy had been with KCAL since the mid 1990s, but he also spent years at KCBS-TV—including a historic stint in the 1960s with its predecessor, KNXT(TV)—and at KABC-TV.

Dunphy was frequently cast in small movie roles, as well, typecast as a television newsman or even as himself. The TV anchor Ted Baxter played by the late Ted Knight on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was reputedly based—with much exaggeration—on Dunphy.

Twice-married, Dunphy had five children from his first marriage and one child with his second wife. He is also survived by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A statement from his family called the newsman "a constant beacon of truth and guidance in our ever-changing world."

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