Diane Sawyer Biography

(Broadcast Journalist Known for Anchoring News Shows 'ABC World News Tonight' and 'Good Morning America')

Birthday: December 22, 1945 (Capricorn)

Born In: Glasgow, Kentucky, United States

Lila Diane Sawyer is an American interviewer, anchor, and television journalist. After finishing her education, she began her career as a weather forecaster for WLKY-TV in Louisville and later was promoted to a general assignment post. In 1970, she relocated to Washington, D.C. and initially could not find any work in broadcasting. So she opted for a career change, pursuing governmental jobs. Soon, she was hired as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the deputy press secretary of the White House. Quickly rising through the ranks, she became a staff assistant for US President Richard Nixon and would serve him through the Watergate scandal and his subsequent fall from power. Later, Sawyer returned to journalism, joining CBS News as a general assignment reporter. In the ensuing years, she served as a correspondent for ‘60 Minutes’, co-hosted ‘Primetime Live’, ‘Good Morning America’, and ‘Primetime’, and anchored ABC News’ flagship show ‘ABC World News’ from 2009 to 2014. A trailblazer for female journalists and one of the most recognizable and respectable correspondents in the industry, she has won several awards in her 50-year-long career, including multiple Emmys.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Lila Diane Sawyer

Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Mike Nichols (m. 1988–2014)

father: Erbon Powers

mother: Jean W. (née Dunagan)

Born Country: United States

TV Anchors Journalists

Ancestry: Irish American, British American, German American

Notable Alumni: Seneca High School

U.S. State: Kentucky

More Facts

education: Wellesley College, Seneca High School

awards: 2003 - GLAAD Media Award for Excellence in Media
2004 · Fighting care - George Polk Awards
2009; 2008; 2007 · Good Morning America - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Morning Program

2000 · The Unwanted Children of Russia - Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award
2002 · Primetime - News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Interview
2010 · ABC News Special Events - News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form
2012 · ABC World News Tonight; Nightline
ABC News Special Report - News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast
2001 - Glamour Woman of the Year Award
2008 · 20/20 - News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature Story in a News Magazine
2000 · ABC 2000 Today - Special Classification for Outstanding News and Documentary Program Achievement - Programs
2015 - WGA Award for Best News - Regularly Scheduled
Bulletin or Breaking Report - Television
2002 · Good Morning America - Regularly Scheduled Newscast - News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Background/Analysis of a Single Current Story

Childhood & Early Life
Born on December 22, 1945, in Glasgow, Kentucky, Diane is the younger of two daughters of Jean W. (née Dunagan) and Erbon Powers "Tom" Sawyer. Her mother was an elementary school teacher while her father was a former US Navy captain during World War II. Her older sister’s name is Linda.
Reflecting the cultural melting pot that America is, her ancestors came from all across Europe; she is of mixed English-Irish-Scottish-German descent. Her family moved to Louisville when she was only a few months old, and there, her father quickly became a prominent member of the community as a Republican politician and leader. At the time of his death in a car accident in 1969, he was serving as the Kentucky's Jefferson County Judge/Executive.
Sawyer was an active student at her Seneca High School in Louisville; she was the editor-in-chief for the school newspaper ‘The Arrow’ and was involved in many artistic endeavours.
In 1963, she represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the annual national America's Junior Miss scholarship pageant. She won the pageantry by demonstrating her poise and by writing an essay comparing the music of the north and the south during the Civil War period.
She served as America’s Junior Miss between 1962 and 1965 and travelled across the country endorsing the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair. Her experience was so overwhelmingly good that she continues to support the program even today.
Sawyer graduated from Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1967, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. At her college, she served as the member of Wellesley College Blue Notes, an a cappella singing group, and Phi Sigma Lecture Society. She enrolled at the University of Louisville for one semester of law school but left to pursue a career in journalism.
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Diane Sawyer landed the job of a weather forecaster right out of college, but soon grew tired, finding it boring. Her promotion to the general assignment post did not help and she moved to Washington, D.C. for better opportunities.
There were none, at least not in broadcasting, prompting her to switch career and apply for a job in government offices. She gave multiple interviews and eventually served Jerry Warren as an assistant. Her rise to the post of staff assistant to President Nixon was swift.
In 1973, Sawyer, along with Larry Speakes, was given the task to prove former White House Counsel John Dean’s testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee regarding Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up as a lie.
She would continue to serve Nixon faithfully through his resignation and subsequent Nixon-Ford transition period. She helped him get ready for his famous set of interviews with David Frost as well as to author ‘RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon’.
Returning to Washington, D.C. and to broadcast journalism in 1978, she was employed as a general-assignment reporter for CBS News, and later co-anchored the 90-minute-long morning news show. The program debuted on September 28, 1981.
She was the first female correspondent for CBS News’ ‘60 Minutes’, an investigative-television newsmagazine for which she worked for five years starting in 1984. During her tenure there, the show was one of the most watched programs in America.
In 1989, she joined ABC News as the co-anchor for ‘Primetime Live’ with Sam Donaldson, and then between 1998 and 2000 she co-hosted ‘20/20’.
She teamed up with Charles Gibson on January 18, 1999, to start hosting ‘Good Morning America’. What started as a temporary assignment turned out to become an 11-year-long tenure. In September 2001, she became the first anchor to report to her viewers about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center.
On December 21, 2009, she debuted as the host of ‘ABC World News’, the channel’s flagship program, where she focused more on the “news you can use” than hard international news. Under her, the show received 60% female viewership.
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On June 25, 2014, ABC News released a statement announcing that Sawyer would step down as weekday host of the program, and the weekend host David Murr would replace her. She decided to quit in August, about a week before Murr’s tenure began on August 27. Since then, still employed at ABC News, she continues to conduct interviews and create groundbreaking specials.
Major Works
Throughout her illustrious career, newsmakers have trusted Diane Sawyer to share their stories and she in turn, has interviewed them with a critical sincerity that is becoming gradually rare in her profession. In recent years, she has interviewed, among others, Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner, Malala Yousafzai, and Hilary Clinton.
Awards & Achievements
Diane Sawyer was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997.
She received her first Emmy in 2000 for ‘ABC 2000 Today’. In 2002, her show ‘Good Morning America’ was conferred with ‘News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Background/Analysis of a Single Current Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast’ and from 2007 to 2009, it won the Daytime Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Morning Programming’ consecutively.
Also in 2002, she received ‘News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Interview’ for ‘Primetime’. She has won Emmys for ‘20/20’ in 2008, ‘ABC News Special Events’ in 2010, and ‘ABC Evening News’ and ‘Nightline’ in 2012 as well.
Sawyer was honoured with a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for ‘A Call to Action: Saving Our Children’ segment on ABC News in 2007.
In 2009, she was granted a Peabody Award for ‘A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains’.
Personal Life
In the past, Diane Sawyer had dated President Nixon’s aide Frank Gannon and American diplomat Richard Holbrooke. She met film and theatre director, actor, and producer Mike Nichols in Paris in 1986, when she was 40 years old. He was 54 and a prominent name in his business. They married on April 29, 1988. While Sawyer is the stepmother to Nichols’ two daughters and a son from previous marriages, she does not have any children of her own. On November 19, 2014, Nichols died of a heart attack at the age of 83.
In 2001, she was listed among thirty most-powerful women in America by the ‘Ladies Home Journal.’

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