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Linda Ellerbee (born August 15, 1944) is an American journalist best known for creating, producing & hosting the successful news show for kids, Nick News. Prior to this she worked for NBC News as a corespondent and as an anchor for NBC News shows NBC News Weekend & NBC News Overnight. And in between all this, Ellerbee worked as a news reader for Good Morning America and she also did a commercial of Maxwell House coffee.
Ellerbee was born Linda Jane Smith in Bryan, Texas. She attended River Oaks Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, and Lamar High School in Houston.
She also attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, although she dropped out in 1964. Ellerbee traveled around the country for some time afterward, working itinerant jobs in radio. In her own words:
- I moved around some, married some, had two babies, worked for three radio stations, one of which hired me to read the news because I sounded black—my Texas heritage—and the black woman it had hired did not. ... In radio, I learned about keeping logs, editing audiotape, writing copy, selling air time, announcing, and "running a board," which sounds one hell of a lot more sporting than it is.
After a stint working for Terry Miller, majority leader of the Alaska Senate, she was hired by the Dallas bureau of the Associated Press to write copy. She claims to have been fired after writing a catty personal letter on the AP's word processors and accidentally sending the letter out on the wire. The letter brought her to the attention of CBS television affiliate KHOU-TV, which hired her to replace Jessica Savitch in January 1973. Within several months she was hired by New York's WCBS-TV.
At NBC, Ellerbee worked as a reporter on The Today Show. Her first anchor job was on the prime-time version of Weekend. Ellerbee joined Lloyd Dobyns as co-host of Weekend when the show moved from its late-night time slot (where it rotated with Saturday Night Live, generally one Saturday night per month) into direct prime time competition with CBS's 60 Minutes. As with the late-night incarnation, they would sign-off with the phrase, "And so it goes." A couple of years later, Ellerbee was again teamed with Dobyns (and later Bill Schechner) as hosts of NBC News Overnight, where their trademark writing style made the show somewhat reminiscent of their stint on Weekend. They ended each broadcast with a short, usually wry, commentary, again signing off with the catch-phrase, "And so it goes," which later became the title of her first memoir. While at NBC, Ellerbee worked with Jessica Savitch; when Savitch's drug problems became apparent Ellerbee tried to organize an intervention, but Savitch died before that happened.
In 1986, after the cancellation of Overnight, Ellerbee moved to rival network ABC. There she served as a reporter for the morning program Good Morning America. At ABC, Ellerbee was able to co-write and co-anchor (with Ray Gandolf) Our World, a weekly primetime historical series. She won an Emmy Award for her work on that program.
In 1987, Ellerbee and her husband and business partner Rolfe Tessem left network news to start their own production company, Lucky Duck Productions. The company has produced programs for every major cable network, and has as its flagship program Nick News, a news program for children on Nickelodeon. That show has received many awards: three Peabody Awards (including one personal Peabody given to Ellerbee for her coverage of the Clinton investigation), another duPont Columbia Award and three Emmys. In 2004, Ellerbee was honored with an Emmy for her WE: Women’s Entertainment network series When I Was a Girl. In 1989, she guest-starred as herself in an episode of the sitcom Murphy Brown. The episode "Summer of '77" referenced that Ellerbee had auditioned for the anchor job which eventually went to the title character, played by Candice Bergen. Murphy Brown also accuses Ellerbee of stealing her catchphrase "And so it goes ..." from her during a long haul flight. The two reminisce with Ellerbee saying she might like to go back to an old network job, and Brown wanting to take some time off to write a book. Both reply with "Nahh ...".
Her autobiography And So It Goes was published in 1986. A second book of memoirs, Move on: Adventures in the Real World was published in 1992, and a third, Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table in 2005. In addition, she has authored an eight-part series of Girl Reporter books for young people, as well as a syndicated newspaper column.
In 1992, Ellerbee was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Since then, she spends much of her time speaking to groups about how she fought the cancer and how women need to fight the disease, demand better medical treatment, and maintain a healthy sense of humor.