Myra Scott, a pioneering Los Angeles TV anchor and reporter whose life touched some of America’s most important figures in politics, entertainment and broadcast news, has died after a short battle with cancer. She was 78.
She was best known in Southern California for her work at KNBC-TV in the 1970s. According to her husband, Irv Reifman, she was “by far the youngest member” of a news department that included Tom Brokaw, Tom Snyder, Bob Abernathy, Bryant Gumbel, Kelly Lange and Jess Marlow.
In 1977, she moved to a co-anchor spot at Channel 9, then KHJ-TV and later KCAL.
But it was her early career that ran into a bias against women being on-air TV reporters and anchors.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, where she ran the campus radio station with an assistant named Garrison Keillor, she interned at the Voice of America, working with VOA Director Edward R. Murrow.
Her husband said she “sent out letters requesting interviews to over 40 television stations.” While nine answered, five “explained that they did not hire women.”
Despite the gender barrier, Scott landed her first TV job at KXTV in Sacramento, where station management changed her on-air name from Myra Lynn Shiff to simply “Myra Scott,” according to her husband. He said her full name after marriage was Myra Lynn Shiff Scott Reifman.
After Sacramento, she moved to the larger Minneapolis market at WCCO.
“Myra was the first woman newscaster on television in those two markets,” Reifman said.
She again moved to a larger market at the NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco as a co-anchor and reporter. Then it was on to the nation’s second- largest market of Los Angeles.
Interview subjects often became friends and more than just stories. Her husband recalled her “spending a day” with Sen. Dianne Feinstein when Feinstein was still a San Francisco supervisor, along with Feinstein’s family, including breakfast at their home and a shopping trip later in the day.
Among the numerous stories she covered, she flew with the Blue Angels, sailed with the Coast Guard, covered major medical breakthroughs, was sent to London for Queen Elizabeth’s 50th birthday and was the only TV reporter at the deadly Rolling Stones Altamont concert, where she received death threats over her exclusive tapes.
Her husband recalled her “in-depth” interviews with Ronald Reagan, Jesse Owens, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Jane Fonda, Cass Elliot, Ricky Nelson, Cloris Leachman and many others.
After retiring from TV, she worked in government and became active in community affairs. She was on the boards of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the Wildwood School and the National Council of Jewish Women.
“The happiest time of her life was over the last four years with the birth of her first granddaughter,” as well as the later births of twin granddaughters, her husband said.
She was “stricken with a virulent cancer in October and was in Cedars Sinai for most of the last two months,” Reifman said. She died Friday.
“Now again, she can fly with the angels,” Reifman said.
She is survived by her husband; children Cori, Jeff, Scott and Marli; the three grandchildren; a brother, sister and sister-in-law.