Miami Herald (Sunday)

Ruth Ashton Taylor, trailblazi­ng television journalist


Ruth Ashton Taylor, the first female television newscaster in Los Angeles and one of the first in the country, died Thursday in Northern California, her family announced. She was 101.

A Los Angeles-area native, Taylor trailblaze­d a 50-year career in journalism, during which she interviewe­d the likes of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheime­r, worked with industry icons including Edward R. Murrow and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“She was certainly that woman out there doing something that none of us saw other women doing at the time,” Susan Conklin, one of Taylor’s daughters, said in an interview with The Times.

Taylor was born in Long Beach in 1922 and graduated from Long Beach Polytechni­c High School and Scripps College in Claremont before heading east to attend Columbia University for graduate school.

Almost immediatel­y after graduating from Columbia, Taylor was hired to join a CBS documentar­y team led by Murrow, Conklin said.

Despite being in her early 20s at the time, Taylor proved to be a fearless reporter.

“She was trying to do a piece on the peacetime uses of nuclear energy and she went and she found Dr. Einstein,” Conklin said.

Taylor had been attempting to contact Einstein for some time before she traveled unannounce­d to Princeton University, where he was working.

Taylor happened upon Einstein as he was walking down a hill.

She introduced herself. “He said, ‘Ah! The broadcasti­ng lady,’” Taylor recalled in a set of interviews done for the Washington Press Club Foundation.

Taylor returned to Los Angeles in 1951 and was hired as the West Coast’s first female television reporter at KNXT, now KCBS.

She left journalism for a short time in the late 1950s before returning to KNXT in 1962, where she spent the rest of her career before retiring in 1989.

Taylor covered an array of topics during her career, and hosted a variety of segments and shows.

During one fire, Taylor recalled, a Los Angeles County fire chief said, “This is the first time I’ve ever been interviewe­d on a fire line by a woman.”

“But not the last,” Taylor replied.

After officially retiring from KCBS, Taylor continued to work on retainer for the broadcaste­r into the 1990s.

Among the honors she received in acknowledg­ment of her decadeslon­g career was a Lifetime

Achievemen­t Emmy.

Despite Taylor’s demanding work schedule, Conklin said her mother was always there for her family.

“Work was really important to her,” Conklin said. “She worked hard, but I never felt like she forgot she had kids. We still came first for her.”

“She just showed up as a mom … and then showed up as a grandmothe­r and showed up as a greatgrand­mother,” Conklin added.

Taylor is survived by her daughters Susan, Sadie and Laurel Conklin, her stepson John Taylor, a grandson and granddaugh­ter-in-law and a great-grandson.

 ?? ANGELA WEISS TNS ?? Ruth Ashton Taylor attends the Annual Good News Foundation kick-off luncheon in Los Angeles on July 25, 2009.
ANGELA WEISS TNS Ruth Ashton Taylor attends the Annual Good News Foundation kick-off luncheon in Los Angeles on July 25, 2009.

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