The Savitch Story: Confirmation & Denial '60 Minutes' Correspondent Ed Bradley Confirms Affair With Nbc Anchorwoman

Posted: April 19, 1988

Ed Bradley acknowledged yesterday that he did have a "romantic relationship" with Jessica Savitch in the early 1970s.

The "60 Minutes" correspondent said he could not come to the phone to speak personally, but passed word through his assistant, Bonnie Bellamy, that he had an affair with Savitch when he was a radio reporter for WCBS in New York and she was an administrative assistant for CBS.

Again through Bellamy, Bradley said he continued a non-romantic, social and professional relationship with her until the time of her death in 1983.

Bradley's ackowledgement confirms one of the major assertions in "Almost Golden: Jessica Savitch and the Selling of Television News," by Gwenda Blair, a book to be published next month by Simon & Schuster.

Another major contention - that Savitch used cocaine and other drugs starting when she was an anchor for KYW-TV (Channel 3) in the mid-1970s - was challenged by her closest colleagues of that period.

"Maybe I'm real naive, but I never saw any evidence of any drug use," said Channel 3 anchor Diane Allen, who said Savitch was like a "big sister" to her.

Former Channel 3 anchor Vince Leonard, in a phone interview from Phoenix, where he is now an anchor, said, "In the five years I knew Jess, there was never any hint of drug use on her part. At work, or on the few occasions that we were together socially, never did I ever see anything that would even hint of such a problem."

Channel 10 consumer reporter Orien Reid, who worked at Channel 3 when Savitch was there, said, "I never saw her use drugs . . . I heard all kinds of rumors," but she knew her as "a very sweet - high-strung without a doubt - but caring person."

Both Allen and Leonard said Savitch was extemely upset in the mid-1970s when Channel 3 refused to let her out of her contract to go to NBC. "That made her very unhappy because she felt that she was misled," said Allen.

Both Leonard and Allen denied that disappointment negatively affected her work, as the book contends.

All Savitch's friends, predictably, told tales of her kindness to co- workers, which the book acknowledges. The book also notes that Savitch was often temperamental and bossy.

"I was prepared not to like her, but the opposite happened," said Channel 29 anchor Lee McCarthy, then covering Canada from his perch as NBC's Boston correspondent.

NBC pulled him off the 1979 Canadian national election and turned coverage over to Savitch, to whom the network was giving star treatment.

Savitch was "charming, but quiet," McCarthy said.

He was "a little bit" surprised that when he briefed Savitch on the election she was going to cover, her producer, Susan LaSalla, asked most of the questions while Savitch sat and took notes.

One person in a position to shed more light on Savitch is her younger sister Lori, now a Channel 29 reporter. Lori Savitch could not be reached yesterday.

Meanwhile, Jessica Savitch's friends say they hardly recognize the driven, tantrum-throwing person in the book and wonder if it all might have turned out differently had she stayed in Philadelphia and not gone to the network.

"She had to try it," Reid said. "She would not have been happy just being here."

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