DAA 2012: Francis Bourgholtzer, BA’40

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Frank Bourgholtzer, BA’40

Frank Bourgholtzer, NBC News’ first full-time White House correspondent and a bureau chief in several European capitals, began his career with the network in 1946 and continued filing stories until his retirement in 1986.

At IU, Bourgholtzer majored in government, with minors in journalism and economics, and he spent much of his time at the Indiana Daily Student. After graduation, he worked for three Indiana newspapers before moving back to his native New York in 1941 as a freelance writer. There he wrote scripts for Captain Marvel and Captain Midnight comic books, until the Wall Street Journal hired him as a reporter in 1943. In 1945, the Journal named him Capitol Hill correspondent.

Bourgholtzer’s broadcast career began in 1946, when he joined NBC as a radio news writer. A year later, he became White House correspondent for the network, covering the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. He famously convinced Truman to play the piano during the first live televised tour of the White House.

In 1953, NBC News assigned Bourgholtzer to Paris as a foreign correspondent. He spent much of the rest of his career overseas, heading NBC’s bureaus in Paris, Bonn, Vienna and Moscow, and reporting from both Eastern and Western Europe during the height of the Cold War.

In 1965, he won the Overseas Press Club Award for foreign TV reporting for his reports on the war in Yemen, and in 1969, he was nominated for an Emmy for his coverage of the rising Soviet naval strength in the Mediterranean. He returned to IU in December of that same year as the Ernie Pyle Lecturer, speaking out against Vice President Spiro Agnew’s public criticism of network news.

Bourgholtzer retired from NBC in 1986, but he continued to work on special news assignments, mostly related to the Soviet Union. He died in 2010.

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