Those who were close to Ed Bradley remember him as a “great observer,” a “hero,” a “phenomenal reporter” and, above all else, a man of unparalleled coolness. The news icon, who passed away last week from leukemia at age 65, tallied 19 Emmys and numerous Peabody, duPont and Paul White awards in his storied career, which included 25 years at 60 Minutes.
Born in Philadelphia, Bradley landed a job as a radio reporter, announcing ballgames, spinning records and covering the city's mid-'60s race riots. He was hired as a stringer by CBS News, for which he covered the Vietnam War and later became a White House correspondent.
Called “the coolest man I ever knew” by CBS News veteran Bob Schieffer, Bradley was best-known for his work on 60 Minutes. His many memorable stories include a chilling interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the definitive profile of Ray Charles, and, most recently, an exclusive interview last month with the Duke University lacrosse players accused in the high-profile rape case.
The television world was saddened to hear of its loss. Said CBS Corp. President Leslie Moonves, “His contributions to this company and its news division were enormous, and throughout his career, he set the standard for elegance, class and journalistic integrity.”
Those who worked with Bradley recall a hard-nosed but funny professional with a passion for finding compelling stories that was matched only by his passion for blues and jazz.
60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt recalls introducing him at an awards ceremony in 2000: “I got up in front of 1,000 people and said I'd like everyone in this room to know why I hired Ed Bradley: I hired him because he's a member of a minority. There was a gasp in the room. When the noise subsided, I said he's a great gentleman and a great reporter, and if that's not a minority, I've never heard of one.”
Like Schieffer, Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes, was struck by Bradley's unassailable hipness. When Bradley received RTNDF's Zeidenberg Award in 2000, Fager said his colleague was “in a league with Cronkite.” He added, “What you see on the air is what you get off the air, too. Ed Bradley is the coolest man on earth.”
And Dan Rather, whom Bradley replaced as a correspondent on 60 Minutes, called him “one of America's best.
“As a compassionate, sensitive person,” he added, “as a gentle but strong man, as a lover of life and a great professional, he was an example of all a conscientious and dedicated journalist can be.”