Award-winning news producer and investigative journalist Pete Noyes, a Los Angeles television news pioneer and mentor to many colleagues and USC students who took his broadcast news writing classes, has died at the age of 90.
Noyes, who had been in declining health, died Monday night at his Westlake Village home, according to his son, Jack Noyes, a veteran news producer at NBC4.
Noyes began his journalism career at Stars and Stripes, the American military newspaper, while serving in the Army during the Korean War. During his decades-long career, he worked at KFMB in San Diego, KXTV in Sacramento, and in Los Angeles at City News Service, KNXT/KCBS, KNBC, KABC-TV, KTTV and KCOP, along with the Fox network newsmagazine "Front Page."
Along the way, Noyes was honored with TV's highest award, the Peabody, 10 Emmys, two Edward R. Murrow awards and many Golden Mike Awards. He taught his craft at USC's journalism school, and penned several books, including "Legacy of Doubt," which linked organized crime to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
After retiring from the news business in 2008, he published several other books, including "The Real L.A. Confidential," in which he wrote about some of L.A.'s most notorious crimes, including the Manson family and O.J. Simpson murder cases.
His 2015 book, "Who Killed the Big News," tells the story of KNXT's introduction in 1961 -- and ultimate death of -- "The Big News,'' which was billed as the first 45-minute newscast in the nation and launched the careers of the late Jerry Dunphy and Ralph Story, among others.
Noyes notched many scoops as the show's city editor, and was named the producer of the newcast in 1963, as it expanded to an hour as the lead-in to an expanded 30-minute edition of the CBS Evening News, featuring a new anchorman named Walter Cronkite.
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Longtime USC journalism professor Joe Saltzman met Noyes in 1964 when both worked for Channel 2.
"He was a tough, hard-bitten newspaper reporter who, like the rest of us, didn't know what to make of this new concept: television news,'' Saltzman recalled in a Facebook post. "He had come from City News Service and took no prisoners -- I can still remember him shouting out my name when he was reading a piece of my copy and yelling, 'What the hell is this?'
One of my oldest friends and colleagues, Pete Noyes, a pioneer of television news in Los Angeles, has died. He was 90. ...Posted by Joe Saltzman on Tuesday, February 2, 2021
"He'd sit me down and show me what I should have done with the news story and I learned more from him than five years of undergraduate and graduate journalism school about how to tell a story in a minute and a half.''
Saltzman added: "You always knew when Pete was working on deadline because his white shirt was always half out of his pants as he scrambled about the newsroom barking orders. He was every journalist I had ever seen in the movies and on television and the rumor that he was the model for Lou Grant in 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' was, at least for me, as true as it could be. And Pete said it was so.
"From my vantage point at USC and the various freelance journalism jobs I did for decades, I saw Pete become one of the great TV investigative reporters of all time,'' Saltzman wrote. "He became a legend in this town and I don't think there is anyone who worked in TV news who didn't know him, or knew of him, and spoke his name with reverence.''
In addition to his wife, Grace, son Jack, daughter-in-law Linda and two granddaughters, survivors include his sister, Liz Gorsich, and brothers Frank and David.
Funeral services will be private, but his sister hopes to hold a "celebration of life'' via Zoom.
In lieu of flowers, Gorsich suggested that contributions be made in Noyes' name to the 8-Ball Emergency Fund for Journalists, formerly known as the 8-Ball Welfare Foundation. Noyes was a longtime board member of the foundation, which provides emergency financial grants to journalists in need.