Friday, August 27, 2004

Larry McCormick, 1933-2004

I was sorry to read about the death of Los Angeles newscaster Larry McCormick, who passed away at age 71 after a lengthy illness. McCormick worked for KTLA-TV for 33 years, an almost unheard-of tenure in the transitory world of broadcast news. He was also one of the first black newscasters in the nation's second-largest broadcast market, and one of the few local TV news personalities represented by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6420 Hollywood Boulevard, in case you'd like to drop by and pay your respects). By all accounts, he was a nice fellow, too.

Larry McCormick's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I never met Larry McCormick, but I saw him frequently on the news when I was at college in L.A. in the early '80s. He was a familiar face to me still, even though I haven't lived in Southern California in more than two decades. You've probably seen him before too, even if you're not from L.A. Why? McCormick was one of the elite handful of TV newspeople filmmakers often call upon to portray newscasters (often using their own names) in the movies. Most recently, McCormick appeared as himself in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and S.W.A.T.

(If you've ever seen an actor try to play a TV reporter or anchor, you understand why directors try to get real newspeople when they can. Actors can't get the cadence of newsreading quite right, because they're accustomed to memorizing lines and knowing their dialogue cold. News broadcasters, by contrast, read their scripts off a TelePrompTer; often, they're seeing the words for the very first time as they speak them into the camera. It gives their speech a certain quality of hesitant unfamiliarity that is tough for an actor to duplicate if he or she has never actually read the news live.)

My condolences to the McCormick family, and to Larry's coworkers and friends. He'll be missed.

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