News Anchor Peter Jennings Lung Cancer Story

Learn More About Peter Jennings, Longtime Anchor of ABC's World New Tonight

Peter Jennings
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Peter Jennings, famed journalist and news anchor, died of lung cancer on August 7, 2005, surrounded by family in his New York home. His death came only four months after he initially announced being diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 67 years old at the time of his death. 

The news of his death was initially announced nationally by ABC President David Westin.

"Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways.

None of us will be the same without him," Westin stated. 

"As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he'd been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not."

Jennings, a broadcaster for ABC, announced in April through a taped message that he indeed had been diagnosed with lung cancer. In the message, he also stated that chemotherapy treatments would begin within days. The news that chemotherapy would be the first course of treatment indicated that the disease may have been in an advanced stage. The stage of his lung cancer was not disclosed.

Jennings was a former smoker who quit in 1988. However, he briefly relapsed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on his home state of New York.

He reportedly began smoking at age 13.

World News Tonight

Jennings served as the anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” from 1978 until his diagnosis. Although he assured his audience that he would still broadcast during his cancer treatment, it never happened. Jennings’ videotaped message telling of his diagnosis would be his last broadcast.

At the time of his announcement, ABC had yet to name a full-time replacement. 

As Jennings gained fame for delivering such important news from around the globe, many found it hard to believe that he never even completed high school. He was often quoted as saying it was a decision he regretted. However, he did become one of the youngest news anchors in the country at the age of 26, when he was hired by ABC to report the national news. Tough competition like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley resulted in bad ratings for Jennings, who was then demoted to foreign correspondent.

Jennings saw the demotion as an opportunity and succeeded at becoming a distinguished, respected reporter. He went on to win numerous awards such as the prestigious Peabody Award. ABC also reports that Jennings was the recipient of 16 Emmys.


Jennings is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, a producer, and his two children, Christopher and Elizabeth.

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