Skip to comments.News anchor Chip Moody dies at 54
Posted on 12/26/2001 12:16:39 PM PST by MeekOneGOP
News anchor Chip Moody dies at 54
Chip Moody, a star news anchor at three major Dallas-Fort Worth TV stations during a 30-year broadcasting career, died at 11:45 a.m.Wednesday at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas after a long illness. He was 54.
Born Robert Phelps Moody II in Oakland, Calif., he was fated to make news himself while fighting Hodgkin’s Disease in the mid-1980s and recurring, unrelated intestinal problems since early 1991. Mr. Moody last anchored on WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in April 1999. But he invariably remained upbeat, both about life and his chances of returning to the air.
Chip Moody Child Care Fund
“I guess I’ve been blessed with a pretty good fighter-pilot mentality,” Mr. Moody said in a December 1999 interview at his home in the Tarrant County city of Dalworthington Gardens. “I do keep kind of bouncing back…I’m getting a little bit weary of it. But I can still laugh. I don’t party like I used to, but I’ve got a pretty good outlook on life.”
Of his earlier, three-year battle with cancer, Mr. Moody once told a friend, “I am an old gunfighter. And this is a flesh wound.”
Mr. Moody also was an avid flyer and skier who delighted in doing Elvis Presley impersonations at parties. His memoirs, titled Moments: The Life and Career of a Texas Newsman, were published in September 1995.
“We are saddened by the loss of Chip Moody,” said Jack Sander, executive vice president/media operations of Belo, which owns Channel 8 and The Dallas Morning News. “Our first thoughts go to his family, and his extended family at Channel 8 and Belo. Chip’s contributions and visibility throughout the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area were great, and I know his many fans and followers share our grief. He certainly will be missed.”
Channel 8 president and general manager Kathy Clements-Hill said that Mr. Moody “will forever be in our hearts, and the hearts of so many people whose lives he touched for so many years in the North Texas community. His tireless work with so many charitable causes, and the mark he made with news viewers will leave a lasting impression on all of us.”
A graduate of Baylor University, Mr. Moody broke into television news as a student intern at a Waco station. In 1970, he became news director and anchorman at the ABC affiliate in El Paso. The pay was $675 a month, a bare fraction of the six-figure annual salaries Mr. Moody later would command.
Mr. Moody joined Fort Worth-based KXAS-TV (Channel 5) in 1971; he rapidly worked his way from reporter to the featured anchor of the NBC station’s 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.
“I’m going to remember him as a great anchorman, and also as an inspiration,” said former Channel 8 news director John Miller, who first met Mr. Moody when they worked at Channel 5 together. “I think all of us will be fortunate to have a fraction of the kind of courage he showed.”
In 1980, Channel 5 lost Mr. Moody to Dallas’ KDFW-TV (Channel 4), which teamed him with incumbent anchor Clarice Tinsley. The then-CBS affiliate provided strong competition for perennial powerhouse WFAA, knocking Channel 8 from its accustomed top spot in the 10 p.m. newscast ratings during some “sweeps” competitions. But sagging morale and conflicts with management led to the loss of numerous Channel 4 mainstays, including Mr. Moody and current Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen.
“It was a joy sharing a friendship and the anchor desk with Chip,” said Ms. Tinsley, still the featured anchor at Channel 4. “He had boundless energy that jumped through the camera. His connection with viewers was magnetic, and his concern for them was genuine and deep. Chip’s personality was Texas big.”
On Memorial Day in 1984, Mr. Moody accepted an anchor position at Houston’s KHOU-TV in Houston, which recently had been purchased by Channel 8’s parent company, Belo. Mr. Moody found the KHOU experience doubly discouraging. He and co-anchor Felicia Jeter failed to lift the station out of third place in the ratings. And on June 13, 1986, Mr. Moody got far worse news; an egg-sized tumor on his neck was cancerous.
“I closed my eyes for about 15 seconds,” Mr. Moody recalled. “And then I did tell the doctor, ‘I guess we have some work to do.’”
While undergoing successful chemotherapy treatments at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Hospital, Mr. Moody learned that his father, Robert, and mother, Darlene, also had cancer.
“All of us were in disbelief,” the son said. “You feel like the mountain climber who has struggled to get to the peak and then realizes he has another half-mile to go. I wondered if I was strong enough to handle it from this side.”
The Moodys leaned on each other for support, with Chip trying to prepare his parents for the cancer treatments he already had received. His job remained open at KHOU. But in September 1987, Mr. Moody decided to return to the city that knew him best. He accepted a weekend anchoring job at Dallas-based Channel 8 after an audition tape convinced management that he was healthy enough to do the job.
“They may just want me to show up and see if anybody notices,” Mr. Moody said at the time. “But if I had a gut feeling, the slogan might be something like, ‘An old and trusted friend is comin’ home.’”
Mr. Moody was promoted to weekday anchor just a year after joining Channel 8, which continued to dominate the 6 and 10 p.m. newscast ratings with a powerhouse lineup that also included Mr. Hansen, weathercaster Troy Dungan and co-anchor Tracy Rowlett, who left the station in 1999 to join KTVT-TV (Channel 11).
Mr. Rowlett, who wrote the foreword to Mr. Moody’s book, said his former Channel 8 colleague was “such a big personality. He had such charisma and it was just infectious. There’s just a void when you turn on the television set and he’s not there.”
Mr. Moody’s health problems abated for a while but suddenly returned early in 1991. While anchoring Gov. Ann Richards’ inauguration in January of that year, he said he was “almost doubled over in pain.”
Doctors at Baylor University Medical Center discovered and removed a benign tumor on his intestinal wall. At the time, Mr. Moody said he was relieved and confident of a full recovery. But he was unable to stay out of the hospital for more than three or four months at a time.
Doctors eventually removed his spleen, appendix, gall bladder and stomach in a series of major operations. And when Mr. Moody was able to work, his noticeably gaunt appearance caused many concerned viewers to write or phone Channel 8 to inquire about his well-being.
“That’s a legitimate concern in the television business,” he said in the 1999 interview. “If I can just get a little more stamina and weight, I’ll be back in the starting lineup. That’s where we all wanna go.”
Mr. Moody continued to smoke throughout his illnesses, even in men’s rooms at cancer fund-raisers he hosted. Frequently restricted to liquid diets, it was one of the few pleasures left to him, he said.
“I wish I could be all things to all people, but there’s no way to do that,” Mr. Moody explained. “But I realize there’s a certain expectation…. It’s very difficult. And the good Lord knows I’m not a perfect person.”
Mr. Moody is survived by his wife; Vikki, a son, Trae, 26; a daughter, Tiffin; brothers Kelly and Bruce; and a sister, Kate. His father, Robert Phelps Moody, a 15-year cancer survivor, lives three miles to the north of his son’s home. His mother, Darlene Moody, died of lung cancer five years ago.
Plans for a memorial service are pending.
News anchor Chip Moody dies at 54
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Channel 5 back when it was called WBAP with Moody as anchor was excellent.
Also, the late Harold Taft was the chief meteorologist. When I was a kid, I was a weather freak and I would have to tune in Harold to get my daily fix, even though the reception was usually quite snowy in the pre-cable era (transmitter's more than 100 miles away).
Local TV news used to be pretty good compared to nowadays.
Still remember and miss Harold too.
Harold was a really neat guy. He was one of the weather guys at the D-Day invasion. He was also the guy who invented that green screen thing where the weather person stands in front of it and the weather report is on the screen behind them.
He said one time that a fan came up to him and told him that he thought his name was 'Harold Hush', because that's what his mother would say when the weather came on the tv.
Sad, sad day.