Harry Radliffe II, an award-winning producer for 60 Minutes and CBS’ first African-American bureau chief, died today at his home in Stamford, CT, following a 7-year battle with colon cancer. He was 66.
Born in Indianapolis on January 1, 1949, Radliffe began his news career as a reporter at KGW-TV Portland, OR, in 1971 before moving to the CBS News’ Washington bureau to work as an assistant editor. In 1974 he moved to ABC News as an associate producer before returning to CBS in 1979 to work in New York as a producer on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Radliffe would stay with CBS for the rest of his career.
Posted to London in 1980, he did stories on the Iran hostage crisis, the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Falklands Islands War. He was in the Frankfurt International Airport in 1985 when a terrorist bomb exploded above him and his camera crew, and the team became the first journalists on the scene with a graphic report that defined the event’s coverage across outlets.
He was named the network’s London Bureau Chief in 1986, where he supervised coverage of some the era’s most significant events, including the Chernobyl disaster, terrorism in Europe and growing turmoil in the Middle East.
Radliffe returned to New York in 1988 to work as senior producer for CBS Evening News, and soon after began his 26-year affiliation with 60 Minutes when he became a producer on the show. Shortly after, his work covering the only U.S. Gulf War combatant to be disciplined for a friendly-fire incident would win a Peabody. Among the other stories to which he contribute are a 1995 segment about securities derivatives; a 2000 story about Venezuelan musician Gustavo Dudamel, who later would conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and a pre-9/11 report in Qatar about the Al Jazeera network.
Radliffe’s experience in the Middle East made him a crucial part of CBS’ news coverage in the years following 9/11, and he would go on to win a News Emmy for a 2012 report on the civil war in Syria. He also spearheaded coverage of the region’s Christian minority. Just prior to his death, he was working on a story about a Tanzanian orphanage. In all, he contributed nearly 100 stories to 60 Minutes.
Radliffe is survived by his brother, Brian, and sister, Betty Jo Williams. Memorial plans will be announced in the coming weeks.