Cover image for Roone : memoir
Roone : memoir
Arledge, Roone.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2003]

Physical Description:
vi, 424 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Col. ill. on lining papers.

Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1992.4.A72 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"He makes you see things differently. He makes you think differently. He makes you dream that you can do things you didn't know you could do. And he is the first person there when you have done something that honors the profession."

This was Roone Arledge as seen by one of his more illustrious contemporaries, Diane Sawyer. His great career of more than a half century mirrored the history of the television industry he helped create, and now, in Roone, he has left us his pungent, up-close-and-personal account of both stories, of his own rise to fame and power as the head of ABC Sports and News -- Life magazine would call him one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" -- and of the many people, foes as well as friends, whose paths he crossed.

On Howard Cosell: "In hindsight, I couldn't say which of them was the more insecure -- Richard Nixon, president of the United States, or Howard Cosell!"

On Barbara Walters and the invention of 20/20: "I thought the program needed Barbara Walters. I also thought Barbara needed the program."

On Peter Jennings: "The whole world was his beat. He roamed the planet on the trail of great stories."

Here are the celebrated figures of Roone's era, the famous and infamous whom he encountered, from Nixon to Boris Yeltsin to Muhammed Ali.

Seen too are the lesser-known figures who made television what it is at the production end, like the man who invented Instant Replay. And the "founders" themselves who made the networks: the "General," David Sarnoff, at NBC; the legendary Bill Paley at CBS; and even the bespectacled lawyer, Leonard Goldenson, who led a struggling distant-third network called ABC but had the nerve to give unknown youngsters their chance at the big time, young producers like . . . Roone Arledge.

But, underlying all the anecdotes and the behind-the-scenes tales from the control room is the often poignant story of a changing industry, of what happened in the boardrooms of the 1980s and '90s when the era of the founders came to a close and corporate interests took over the networks, including ABC, and when the freewheeling, free-spending era of growth gave way to the far less glamorous struggle to make the business profitable. Roone Arledge himself never resorted to the cheap fix of tabloid journalism, and his visionary approach to television programming (which led, among other things, to his receiving more than thirty Emmy Awards), raised him head and shoulders above his competitors, but his assessment of what happened to the industry he loved is as nuanced and fascinating as it is trenchant. Roone Arledge had the keenest sense of story, of color, image, incident, humanity, and of what it took to bring millions of viewers to his programs -- and to hold them riveted to his screen. That same keen sense makes Roone a memorable reading experience.

Roone Arledge lived in New York City until his death on December 5, 2002, at the age of seventy-one.

Author Notes

Roone Arledge lived in New York City until his death on December 5, 2002, at the age of seventy-one

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sports hounds and news junkies are the obvious target audience for this posthumously published autobiography, but anyone who has watched television for the last 30 or so years will also find it a remarkable memoir. Arledge not only changed the face of television sports but also revamped the TV news business. Readers will be impressed with the shows and events that are associated with his name: Wide World of Sports, Monday Night Football, Olympic coverage (including the deadly Munich Olympics), World News Tonight, 20/20, Nightline, This Week with David Brinkley, and Prime Time Live. And then there are all the familiar names whose careers Arledge helped make: Cosell, Gifford, Jennings, Walters, Sawyer, and more. Arledge either had a remarkable memory or kept copious diaries. He remembers all the inner workings and the details of every argument; perhaps guessing that he'd be gone before the book came out, he also has no problem naming names. (A fellow named Weiswasser, who tried to hijack ABC news from Arledge, comes out looking particularly bad.) Even favorites like Jennings are presented warts and all. Not only is the book full of fascinating information, it's written in an immensely readable style (although a flow chart might have helped to keep track of the players and their switching allegiances). It's impossible not to come away from this memoir impressed with Arledge; no doubt he would have liked that. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his long career as an executive at ABC-TV, Roone Arledge revolutionized sports and news broadcasting by emphasizing entertainment-and his posthumous memoir (he died in December at age 71), entertains as well. Arledge, who created The Wide World of Sports and Nightline, among other shows, was known as a creative but difficult genius, and no one who reads this book will have trouble understanding why he gained that reputation. He delights in telling how people opposed his innovations-such as introducing slow-motion replays and putting three men in a broadcasting booth for Monday Night Football-only later to be proven wrong. He also relishes telling war stories of his life at the network-from Jim McKay broadcasting live at the 1972 Munich Olympics to a debate between South Africa's foreign minister and Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the peak of the battle over apartheid. He also provides a behind-the scenes look at his four decades of wheeling and dealing with top executives and on-air personalities: Howard Cosell, Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer all trace much of their stardom to Arledge's tutelage and backing. Nor is Arledge afraid to shovel some dirt. Former ABC news anchor Max Robinson is depicted as a drunk who made accusations of racism to cover up his own shortcomings. Arledge laments corporatization of the networks and the resulting decline in the quality of their news broadcasts. Anyone interested in sports, news or television in general will have difficulty putting this valuable book down. (May) Forecast: Arledge's recent death received major media coverage; this book is bound to be widely reviewed and should have a shot at bestseller lists. The first printing is 75,000. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

From the man Sports Illustrated places third in its list of most influential sports figures. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Roone A Memoir Chapter One Growing Up I wonder what he'd have made of me. I'm talking about the little boy with the thatch of red hair and the funny-sounding first name who grew up on suburban Long Island in the middle of the twentieth century: Roone Pinckney Arledge. What would he have thought of this full-grown graybeard in the next century, walking with a cane? What would he have made of my thirty-six Emmys and my directorships ranging from ESPN to the Council on Foreign Relations and Columbia University ( ESP-what? he might ask), and my three wives and four children and five grandchildren? And the Lifetime Achievement Emmy I'm to receive for News, the first of its kind to be given by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences? And, last but far from least, my late-life disease that now afflicts so many human beings? A "legend in television," did you say? I've been called that, much to my chagrin. Legends are the dead, people like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig whose images are carved in relief in deepest center field at Yankee Stadium. And I'm very much alive despite the cane, still chairman of ABC News and working on these memoirs in my spare time. But which would be stranger to the little boy? The idea that he might grow up to win a lifetime achievement award in television? Or television itself? (Until I was eight, I don't think I had ever even heard of television.) I have an equally hard time relating to the little boy I once was, the one his schoolmates nicknamed "Genius." (Whether he was or wasn't one he once lost a spelling bee because he muffed the word! That's right: "g-e-n-i-o-u-s"!). "Roone" was safer. The good thing about being called Roone, my father told me, was that people always remembered who you were. There are a lot of Johnnys, he said, a lot of Jims, Bobs, and Bills, but I've never run across another Roone. He knew wherefrom he spoke: His name was Roone, too. Dad was right, as he was about nearly everything. In all the years since, I only encountered one more Roone, and that's my son, who soon became known in the family as Boss and who christened his own first son ... Benjamin! Of course, there's always an exception, somewhere. In what was once East Berlin, an ABC crew once came across the statue of a Prussian field marshal who'd served as Bismarck's chief of staff. His inscribed name? "Roon." My ABC colleagues took a picture of the statue, simply added an e to the end, superimposed a photo of my face on the general's, and proudly presented it to me. My father, in fact, had been christened without the e, too. My grandfather chose "Roon" for him, a minister's last name that he'd discovered written in an old family Bible. The Pinckney -- my grandfather's middle name, as it was my own -- was borrowed from an illustrious South Carolina family that went back to Revolutionary days, whereas we Arledges, at least through my grandfather's generation, were farmers from Scotland. As for "Roon," Dad added the e, went to Wake Forest, and after serving as a sergeant in France during World War I, came north to work as a real estate lawyer for Equitable Life Assurance. My father's choice of the law was doubtless influenced by having grown up in a family famous for arguing and debating around the dinner table but even more so by his brother, Yates. Yates Arledge was locally celebrated for having defended the Carolina Power & Light Company in court against a farmer whose mule had been electrocuted by a fatal encounter with an electrified fence that had been erected by the company. The farmer wanted restitution for his mule. Yates filed a countersuit on behalf of the company, charging the mule with negligence. As everyone knew, he contended, mules were endowed with special intelligence. A horse might have run into such a fence, not knowing any better, but a mule? Never. The mule should have known! The judge in question laughed both cases out of his courtroom. My mother, Gertrude, was a Scot, too. I learned good manners from her, personal reserve, and most of all the love of excellence and attention to detail (a characteristic that, over the years, annoyed some of my ABC colleagues no end). But it was from my father, I think, that I got a passionate, an almost insatiable, curiosity about the world around me, and a devouring appetite for news and media. My earliest broadcasting memory is being huddled around the living room radio, a kind of mini-cathedral in dark wood with a lit doorway at the bottom where the dial was, listening to FDR's fireside chats. President Roosevelt was one of my father's heros. Another was Douglas MacArthur. I can summon to memory the announcement on our radio of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. December seventh fell on a Sunday that year, and the special news bulletin broke into a football game. When not long afterward, we heard that the Japanese had invaded the Philippines, my father opined, "We've got MacArthur out there. He'll be terrific." The next day, in school, I remember being called upon to explain what had happened -- probably my first experience in journalism. World War II, needless to say, was the news story of my youth, and it ran every day for four astonishing years, on radio and in the newspapers. My father had tried to enlist but, much to his chagrin, was deemed too old to serve. Instead, he transformed our backyard into a victory garden and patrolled the streets of our Long Island community at night, wearing a Civil Defense helmet and watching for homes that failed to obey the blackout laws ... Roone A Memoir . Copyright © by Roone Arledge. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Roone: A Memoir by Roone Arledge All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Editor's Notep. vii
1 Growing Upp. 1
2 NBC Yearsp. 11
3 NCAA Footballp. 23
4 Wide World of Sportsp. 41
5 Taking Commandp. 62
6 Sports Prezp. 77
7 Monday Night Footballp. 99
8 Munichp. 121
9 Flood Tidep. 140
10 Coming to Newsp. 156
11 Harry and Barbarap. 175
12 20/20p. 195
13 Nightlinep. 213
14 Brinkleyp. 233
15 WNTp. 246
16 Going Solop. 265
17 Sports Reduxp. 281
18 Cap Citiesp. 302
19 Landing Dianep. 329
20 Moscow Town Meeting: Mission to Moscowp. 346
21 Weiswasser: Why Not Quit?p. 363
22 Changing the Guardp. 385
23 Roone Arledge, Sagep. 402
Indexp. 416