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Veteran Newscaster Jerry Dunphy Dies

May 21, 2002 GMT

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jerry Dunphy, who was one of the most recognizable TV anchors in Southern California for more than 40 years and became known as the ``Dean of Los Angeles Broadcasting,″ has died. He was 80.

Dunphy had been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack outside his condominium on Wednesday.

Fellow newscasters shared fond remembrances when announcing the news Monday night, saying they grew up watching Dunphy, who was widely known for beginning his broadcasts with the words, ``From the desert to the sea to all of Southern California.″

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``To the people of Southern California, he served as a constant beacon of truth and guidance in our ever-changing world,″ Dunphy’s family said in a statement announcing the broadcaster’s death Monday night.

Minutes after the family issued the statement, KCAL-TV anchor Pat Harvey fought back tears as she announced Dunphy’s death at the beginning of the station’s 10 p.m. newscast.

``Los Angeles has forever changed tonight, because Jerry Dunphy will never come into your home again,″ she said. ``Jerry touched the lives of generations of Angelenos for more than 40 years, a beacon of truth and trust for all to turn to, in good times and bad.″

Working into his 80s, Dunphy said he would never retire. ``God give me work until my life shall end, and give me life until my work shall end,″ he once said.

He joined Los Angeles CBS affiliate KNXT-TV (now KCBS-TV) as an anchor in 1960, where he helped launch the nation’s first hourlong newscast, known as ``The Big News.″ The show would become the highest-rated news program in Los Angeles history.

When KCAL-TV expanded to a three-hour prime-time newscast in 1989, it hired Dunphy as one of its anchors. He would leave KCAL for KCBS in 1995, but returned two years later and remained there until his death.

Recognizable for his full head of snow-white hair, Dunphy also appeared in small parts in a number of movies, often playing himself or a television newscaster or reporter. Among his film credits were ``Bulworth,″ ``Beverly Hills Cop III,″ ``Hard to Kill″ and ``Oh God.″

He also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

A captain in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II, Dunphy flew 29 bombing missions over Japan, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Presidential Unit Citations. A lifelong flying enthusiast, he also reported from time to time on aviation for KCAL.

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After the war, Dunphy returned to his native Wisconsin to finish his college education. He began his broadcasting career at a local station in 1947, working for $1 an hour. He went on to become a reporter for CBS Radio a few years later.

Although he had suffered heart attacks in 1978 and 1991 and was the victim of a shooting in 1983, Dunphy had appeared in good health, anchoring the KCAL news as recently as last week.

He was working for KABC-TV in 1983 when he and a female companion were shot outside the broadcasting studio during a robbery attempt.

``To thousands of Southern California residents, Jerry Dunphy was the news,″ Harvey said during a televised biography. ``We grew up with him. We watched the years pass with him, and now we mourn his passing together.″