Betty Chadwick Sullivan · 1981
Betty Chadwick of Brazil, Indiana, whose talents as chief photographer of WTHI TV in Terre Haute have drawn national attention, will once again be in the national spotlight when she makes a New York City appearance in December.
Betty will depart from Hulman Field on Monday, December 2nd, for a guest appearance on network television. She is to be a guest on the NBC feature “Missing Links.” The program will be videotaped on December 3rd, for nationwide showing on the NBC television network on December 12th.
“Missing Links” is a daytime television presentation and is seen in Brazil and other areas on Eastern Standard time at 11:30 in the morning.
The distinctive occupation of Miss Chadwick — she is the only woman chief photographer in the entire United States television industry — was the subject of a nationwide television appearance in January of 1962 when she was a guest on the program “To Tell the Truth.”
She has become a celebrity in her own right by the unusual avenue of photographing newsworthy people and events. Her distinctive working attire — slacks with an Ike jacket-type blouse — and her ready smile are her trademarks, known on sight not only to the people of the Wabash Valley but to many, many others across the nation. She has covered news assignments from coast to coast and in foreign countries, she has been the object of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she has become personally acquainted with many of the famous people it is her job to photograph. She has established her reputation among television news photographers during her six years at WTHI TV.
Ignoring the clock Betty Chadwick is “on call” twenty four hours a day and has police monitors in her home to alert her in time to cover local events such as floods, mine disasters and bootleg raids. The latter, Betty says with her blue eyes dancing, are her favorites. “So exciting,” she explains.
Several years ago, about one o’clock in the morning, Betty, who lives several miles from Terre Haute in Brazil, Indiana was at home asleep when a call came that what appeared to be a “small fire” had broken out in downtown Terre Haute. Knowing from past experience that a “small fire” can soon become a major disaster, Betty jumped into uniform and headed for Terre Haute. By the time the little camerawoman approached the outskirts of Terre Haute the “whole sky was ablaze.”
Twenty four hours later Betty Chadwick was still taking pictures of Terre Haute’s disastrous “downtown fire” that destroyed almost a block of the finest department and specialty stores in the city.
Once, during the wild day and nights, Betty became sick from exhaustion and smoke inhalation and realized that she was on the verge of collapse, but she refused to leave. Betty did quit long enough to dash to the fire station and take a shot of oxygen so she could finish her assignment.
Not all of Betty Chadwick’s work centers around disasters and police cases. Betty covers the Indianapolis 500 Race, The Miss America Pageant, presidential inaugurations, and several years ago the glamorous flick-girl was sent on a Defense Department tour of Europe, the only woman in a group which included 27 newsmen from across the United States. “It was great,” Betty recalled, “but it was exhausting, and we got by on four or five hours sleep a night. I’ll never forget the night I was assigned to ‘bachelor quarters’ at one post. My bed was one of six in the large, empty-except-for-me room and after locking the door I jumped into bed and ‘just died.'”
No one had alerted the returning bachelors that a young woman had taken over their quarters and about 2 a.m. Betty awoke to find herself blinking into the disbelieving eyes of several delighted young men. Betty yelled and so did the bachelors as they fled. Later, one of the dispossessed bachelors called the head office and reported that a young lady was asleep in one of the beds, “But,” the gallant bachelor added, “it’s not that we mind sir, we’re just afraid that she might.”
As so often happens this career girl whose film often appears on coast to coast TV news broadcasts became a camerawoman by accident.
Betty Chadwick was helping to put out a small newspaper in her home town when the young man who was supposed to take pictures failed to appear for an assignment. “I hardly knew which end of the camera to look through,” Betty laughed, “but I went ahead and hoped that I was focusing correctly on a bunch of especially fed pigs.”
“When the feed company who sponsored the project saw the picture they featured it on the cover of their trade journal and a career was launched. I have been a ‘camera bug’ ever since,” Betty said.
“Have you ever been in any danger?” we queried.
“Oh, yes,” Betty said. “You expect that on bootleg raids and such and one time when I was covering a mine strike a coal miner knocked me to the ground and threatened to kill me if I ran the picture I took of him.”
“Well, did you run the picture?”
“Of course. It was news. We not only ran the picture, we quoted the threat.”
“Nothing. The man quit mining and started driving a taxi.”
“Would you change your often hectic schedule and occupation for that of a secretary or a filing clerk? Would you like a different kind of work?”
“Work?!” Betty Chadwick grinned as she caught up her heavy camera and dashed out the door in response to a call that an irate husband was chasing his wife around a filing station with a tire tool in his hand, “You call this work? This isn’t work — this is living.”