South Carolina Encyclopedia Guide to South Carolina Writers

By Tom Mack | Go to book overview

Blair, Frank (1915–1995).

Broadcaster, author. Born in Yemassee, South Carolina, on May 30, 1915, Blair was the son of telegrapher Frank S. Blair and Hannah Pinckney. He attended the College of Charleston in 1933. On October 20, 1935, he married Lillian Stoddard. They had eight children. During World War II he served in the U.S. Navy as a flight instructor and transport pilot, attaining the rank of lieutenant.

A deep-voiced newscaster, Blair got his start in broadcasting in October 1935, when he convinced officials at WCSC-Radio in Charleston to let him start a news show. From this fifteen-dollar-a-week job he moved on to Columbia and Greenville stations, then to WOL in Washington, D.C., where he worked from 1939 to 1942. After World War II he briefly managed station WSCR-Radio in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Blair joined NBC-TV in 1950 and moderated The American Forum of the Air, a debate program. He was named Washington, D.C., correspondent for the Today Show, which was launched on January 14, 1952, as an experimental morning news program. The innovative enterprise eventually won acclaim with Dave Garroway and Jack Lescoulie as hosts and Blair as newscaster. Blair worked with twenty-five different hosts during his twenty-three years on the show. In his autobiography, Let’s Be Frank about It, Blair described the pressures of the job and his bouts with alcohol abuse. He resigned from the show on March 14, 1975, and retired to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, but continued recording commercials and syndicated radio programs.

Blair was honored by Georgetown University, where he was a broadcast instructor; Xavier University; the University of Missouri; and the Boy Scouts of America. He received honorary degrees from Nasson College, Le Moyne College, Niagara University, and the Citadel. He died at Hilton Head Island on March 14, 1995. ROBERT A. PIERCE

Blair, Frank. Let’s Be Frank about It. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1979.

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