Sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime experience can leave a lasting impression. When journalistic icon Walter Cronkite died last week, the first thing that came into my mind was a brief encounter WWD had with him in 1992.
I was covering the
memorial service for fashion designer Mollie Parnis, who beside dressing first
ladies and society women, had befriended many of the top newsmen and women of
her time during Sunday night dinners and election night parties. Speaking and
attending her memorial were the likes of Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters
and Charlie Gibson.
During a cocktail reception prior to the service at Lincoln Center, where a memorial for Cronkite will also be held, I was wide-eyed at the media stars in the room, but was somehow drawn to introduce myself to Cronkite. I, like many others, had grown up watching him anchor the CBS Evening News, narrating events such as President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the first men on the moon and the Vietnam War.
So I introduced myself and told him he was one of my heroes. He thanked me, and then graciously introduced me to his wife, Betsy.
In his eulogy of Parnis, Cronkite expressed why he cared so much for her, and his words also expressed why I and millions of Americans admired him so much, when he said: "Most of all, we loved Mollie for her truthfulness and her absolute candor and courage of her convictions."
He then added, "Maybe that's why we newspeople loved Mollie as much as she seemed to favor us. She loved the inside story. She also believed dresses should not go out of style after one season and we husbands loved her for that."
And that's the way it was, Sept. 15, 1992.