George Putnam (newsman)

IntroAmerican journalist
Was Journalist 
Radio personality 
From United States of America 
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio 
Birth 14 July 1914 
, Breckenridge
Death 12 September 2008 
, Chino
(aged 94 years)

George Putnam (July 14, 1914 – September 12, 2008) was an American television news reporter and talk show host based in Los Angeles. He was known for his catchy phrases “That’s the up-to-the-minute news, and up-to-the-minute that’s all the news” at the end of his broadcast. He concluded the 5:00 PM news with a teaser, inviting viewers back to get the full story at the station’s late evening news program, smiling his signature close, “See ya at ten, see ya then.”


Putnam was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota. His radio career began on his 20th birthday in 1934 at WDGY in Minneapolis, then continued in Washington, DC at WJSV and later, in New York City. While working in New York, influential newspaper columnist Walter Winchell declared that “George Putnam’s voice is the greatest in radio.”

From July 1949 to February 1951 tall, wavy-haired Putnam, known for his rich baritone voice hosted the evening version of Broadway to Hollywood on the DuMont Television Network.

Putnam began working in Los Angeles television in 1951, eventually hosting the highest-rated newscast. He anchored at all four of Los Angeles’ major independent stations — KTTV, KTLA, KCOP, and KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV) — at one time or another. In addition to his salary, he was provided a Rolls-Royce automobile while at KTTV and KTLA. He was replaced by news legend Hal Fishman in 1975.

Putnam long carried a grudge against Fishman, stating on his radio show Talk Back that he was back-stabbed by him. Putnam made this claim for decades. It is noteworthy that when Fishman produced KTLA’s 50th anniversary history in television in 1997, footage of Putnam was not used, though Putnam had been the face of KTLA news in the 1960s and 1970s before the arrival of Fishman. During KTLA’s 60th-anniversary special during Thanksgiving weekend in 2007, the KTLA News intro from when George Putnam anchored the news was shown; Fishman died on August 7, 2007, three months before the 60th anniversary special aired.

In 1965, Putnam narrated a film entitled Perversion for Profit, in which he warned viewers about magazines containing nudity and homosexual material, saying homosexuals were “perverted” and “misfits”, as well as implying they were child molesters. The film was financed by Charles Keating.

For his contribution to the television industry, George Putnam was awarded three Emmy awards as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6372 Hollywood Blvd. The late Ted Knight stated that Putnam served in part as a model for the Ted Baxter character in the 1970s television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show on CBS.

Putnam was also noted for his years of participation in the Rose Parade, having ridden in that event from 1951 until 2000, when his horse died. At the time, Putnam said that he was too advanced in age to train another Parade horse. Putnam lived and died at his 20-acre (81,000 m2) working ranch in Chino. The ranch houses his sixty-five racehorses, which have competed at the Kentucky Derby and all of the racetracks in Southern California. He also spent time at his home of fifty-seven years in Beverly Hills.

Putnam was the host of Talk Back, a conservative radio show he hosted daily since leaving the television anchor chair in 1975. It was based at KIEV in Glendale, California (now KRLA) until 2001 and moved to KCAA 1050 in San Bernardino in 2002 and was distributed nationwide on the Cable Radio Network on CRN1. Although Putnam advocated many conservative viewpoints, he stated many times his status as a “lifelong Democrat” since his youthful admiration of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In addition to political talk Putnam interviewed many people that he knew in show business including Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Desi Arnaz, Milton Berle and many others. He and Lucille Ball were very close friends, as evidenced by her yearly in-person appearance on Talk Back on or around his birthday. Downtown Los Angeles workers were thrilled and surprised to see Ball making the walk through the underground level of Arco Plaza to Putnam’s studio, often with her husband Gary Morton and no security detail. The studio was enclosed in see-through glass so that people visiting Arco Plaza could witness interviews and on occasion (as with Ball’s appearances) ask questions of Putnam’s guest. The studio was mainly built for Putnam by KIEVAM. Putnam is also credited with giving Blog reporter Matt Drudge his start.

Putnam also published the weekly column “One Reporter’s Opinion” on the Web site NewsMax. His most recent focus was illegal immigration from Mexico. Putnam received an honorary LL.D. from Bates College in 1985.

Putnam had a cameo role as a TV news reporter or anchor in at least three films: Fourteen Hours (1951), I Want to Live! (1958) with Susan Hayward starring as accused murderer Barbara Graham, and the disaster film Independence Day (1996).

In a June 12, 2008, e-mail to Putnam’s Newsmax readers, it was announced that Putnam was in a Los Angeles hospital undergoing medical treatment on his liver and kidneys. In mid-July he took part in a special on-air 94th “birthday” show, in which actress Doris Day appeared by telephone, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On September 12, 2008, Putnam died at Chino Valley Medical Center in Chino, California. His death was announced to Putnam’s readers. Upon Putnam’s passing, the Los Angeles Times recalled the words of former President Richard M. Nixon in a 1984 roast of Putnam given by KTTV to celebrate Putnam’s 50th anniversary in broadcasting: “Some people didn’t like what he said; some people liked what he said. But everybody listened to George Putnam. That is why he has been one of the most influential commentators of our times.”