Jessica Savitch (Jessica Beth Savitch)
BiographyWilmington, Delaware, USA
Jessica Savitch was born on February 1, 1947 in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Her father suddenly died when she was just 12 years old. It was he that encouraged her for a career in broadcast journalism. Jessica first considered a career in broadcasting while in high school. A friend then got her a job part-time reading the local news on the radio. When Jessica decided to major in communications at Ithaca College in New York, her faculty adviser bluntly told her that she was not part of broadcasting because she is a woman. Read more... him wrong. After graduation, Jessica became an all-around assistant for CBS-Radio in New York City. In 1971, she landed a job at KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas. Three months later, she enjoyed the distinction of becoming the first woman in the South to anchor a broadcast. In 1972, Jessica accepted a job to anchor the weekend newscast in Philadelphia. Over the next few years, Jessica slowly worked her way up and fought hard to be treated fairly in comparison to the other male anchors and correspondents. In 1977, Jessica signed a contract with New York's NBC station to anchor their Sunday evening broadcast, NBC Nightly News. She was then appointed co-anchor of Prime Time Sunday later that year. Jessica's rise to stardom inspired resentment among her colleagues who felt she hadn't paid her dues by first working as a network correspondent. However Jessica's rise to fame apparently came with a price as rumors about drug use and instability dogged her. Things came to a head on October 3, 1983 when, during a live news update, Jessica appeared incoherent in which her speech was slurred, she deviated from her copy and ad-libbed her report. She at first explained that her monitor had malfunctioned. But her agent inadvertently contradicted her alibi by saying that she was under medication from a head injury several weeks earlier. A short while later, Jessica seemed to get back on track for her contract at NBC was extended and she was ranked high on the list of replacements for Jane Pauley who was scheduled to take a maternity leave. But things came suddenly to an end when on Sunday, October 23, 1983, Jessica and her boyfriend, New York Post executive Martin Fischbein, drove to New Hope, Pennsylvania when they leisurely shopped for antiques. That evening, they ate dinner at the Chez Odette, a restaurant along the Delaware Canal. A fierce rainstorm set in and the couple became anxious to return to New York. Fischbein drove and Jessica sat in the back seat with her dog Chewy, a Siberian husky. The weather conditions made the driving difficult. Fischbein apparently mistook a dirt road for an exit and in a matter of seconds the car flipped off the road and plunged into the canal sinking almost instantly. Seven hours later, the bodies of 36-year-old Jessica Savitch and Martin Fischbein were pulled from the canal.