Charles Kuralt was born in 1934 in Wilmington NC. In 1951 his "heart beat faster" when he listened to Edward R. Murrow speak at Chapel Hill, entered the University of North Carolina majoring in history but left in 1955 to work for the Charlotte News, won the Ernie Pyle Award in 1957 for his "People" columns. He moved to New York in 1957 to begin his 37-year career with CBS, becoming in 1959 the youngest CBS new correspondent. His "On the Road" feature began in 1967 as part of the CBS Evening News. and would continue until 1980, then occasionally until 1988. The first story broadcast in 1967 described the fall foliage in Vermont: "It is death that causes this blinding show of color, but it is a fierce and flaming death. To drive along a Vermont country road in this season is to be dazzled by the shower of lemon and scarlet and gold that washes across your windshield." His story on the North Platte Canteen was first broadcast in 1977. During the 13 years of this series, he drove his motor home 50,000 miles a year with a two-man camera crew. He hosted the CBS Sunday Morning TV program 1979-1994. His book On the Road with Charles Kuralt was published In 1985 and was named "Broadcaster of the Year." In 1990 he published his autobiography, A Life on the Road, resigned in 1994 from CBS and died in 1997 from lupus, heart disease and a lifetime of smoking. His more that 600 episodes of "On the Road" remain a classic of American television. According to Ralph Grizzle, "The fact that they just don't make television like that anymore is lost not only on the older generation. After Charles' death, a fan wrote to me: 'His TV show where he traveled around the country in a camper and talked to interesting people was really neat. I wish there were more shows like that, and I'm only 12.' . . . "Kuralt enlightened by seeing the good in us - not because that was all there was to see but because he chose to. We praised him for his good-news approach, even bestowing him with 13 Emmy and three Peabody awards. . . Kuralt could have as easily chosen to be a muckraking journalist, but his style was not to be brutal or harsh. 'You know, most reporters can't go back to the towns they wrote stories about,' he told me in 1994, and then added thoughtfully: 'I never wrote that kind of story.'"


  • revised 11/15/02 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes