Young Gun: Peter's Sudden Impact

TED KOPPEL: Peter was a presence, always, even in those early days when he may not have been that great a reporter. And when I say a presence, it wasn't just women who looked up when Peter walked into a room—and, by golly, they did look up. I mean, Peter was movie-star handsome and he had an aura about him. It just radiated from Peter. And somehow, you felt more alive when Peter Jennings was in the room.


HILARY BROWN: My first impression of Peter was on our first and last date, which was in New York City in the '60s. He took me to the studios to watch him perform. That was his idea of a date. He was cocky, charming, informed, dismissive, but he was also very entertaining, very interested in you, and what you think, what your opinions are, and very interested in the world around him.

LYNN SHERR: I was a reporter for the Associated Press. He was a hotshot at ABC. We met at a demonstration in Central Park that we were both covering. I was dazzled, and not just by his personality. Coretta King had just spoken, and I was taking notes, being a print reporter, figuring out how I was going to do my story. I watched Peter. The second—not the minute, but the second—Mrs. King was done speaking, he picked up a phone and dictated a story to radio that perfectly captured the essence of what had just happened.

CHARLIE GIBSON: I first met Peter in 1968. I was working at a tiny station in Lynchburg, Virginia, and I went down to the Republican National Convention. The Railroad Association used to sponsor lounges with food and I ate all their free sandwiches. There was dancing—bands and music—after the evening session of the convention had recessed and Peter was in there one night, dancing. I thought, son of a gun, this guy is not only a consummate broadcaster, he's not only one of the handsomest individuals I've ever seen, but he's an incredibly good dancer. I thought, darn, he's got it all.

DIANE SAWYER: I was a terrible weather girl at a local ABC affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. He was coming to town and I got assigned the task to make sure he got to the airport. I was so excited – it was like Elvis coming to town. And I got him to the airport very, very early, because I drove so fast, and he sat and talked to me for a long time, and seemed really interested in local politics. He debriefed me on everything, and I thought, "Gee, this is amazing. Obviously I have stood out to him. I've really connected to him and he's so passionately interested in me." I think it was only about a year or two later that I came to New York and I saw him and I said, "I'm the girl in Louisville who drove you to the airport," and he had no idea who I was.