Former Head of PBS and NBC News Dies at 86 from Parkinson's and Throat Cancer
Former Head of PBS and NBC News Lawrence Grossman died in March 2018 at his home in Westport, Connecticut. Grossman was 86 years old and suffered from both throat cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The former head was survived by his wife, Boots, three daughters, a brother, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Lawrence Grossman was the driving force behind the success of NBC Nightly News and NBC’s Today Show. Grossman also expanded public television programming in the 1970s and 1980s and made PBS a household.
He led the resurgence of NBC’s news division and turned it into the most watched nightly TV news program.
Budget restraints and battles with the network’s corporate CEOs forced him to leave the network. However, it did not stop Grossman to continue to leave his mark in the journalism world, by spreading his ideas, views, and perceptions.
Lawrence Grossman’s early life and education
Lawrence Grossman was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 21, 1931. His father was a lawyer and his mother was a high school administrator but sadly, Lawrence’s father passed away when Lawrence was only three. His mother subsequently married Nathan Grossman who was also a lawyer and later adopted Lawrence as his son.
He attended Midwood High where he was first introduced to the world of communication by his journalism teacher, and later went on to graduate from Columbia University where he studied English and political science.
Grossman went on to Harvard Law School where he met and married a Radcliff student, Alberta Nevler, who was also nicknamed Boots.
After only a year at Harvard, Grossman left the school and was hired by Look Magazine in the promotions department. At this point, journalism was his ultimate goal, and while he gave many ideas for stories, nothing really came from it.
Grossman also tried to go into journalism again in CBS during the 1950s, but they put him in charge of advertising and promotions for the news division instead. From 1962 to 1966, Grossman became the vice president of advertising at NBC and met Grant Tinker, who would become his journalism mentor at NBC 20 years later.
Grossman left NBC and opened an advertising, communication and marketing firm. PBS, who was one of his clients, hired him as its president in 1976.
Lawrence Grossman proved his determination by not bowing down to outside pressure, when PBS was told to not air “Death of a Princess,” a film based on a story about a Saudi princess, publicly beheaded for adultery. Mobil Oil, a major PBS underwriter, protested the showing as did some members of Congress. The secretary of state, Warren M. Christopher, also expressed concern in a letter from the Saudi Ambassador for the documentary not to be shown.
Grossman’s determination was the single most important thing he did at PBS, said Richard Wald a professor emeritus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former NBC News President. Grossman created a feeling in the PBS family that their work was significant, and they began to stand up for their principles.
Read on to learn more about Lawrence K. Grossman's accomplishments and the mark he left on the journalism world.
Photo source: WestportNow.com