February 23, 2020

Murray Fromson, war correspondent, 88

Murray Fromson, renowned American war correspondent, university professor and fighter  for press freedom, with close ties to Israel, will be laid to rest Friday, June 15, at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Services start at 10 a.m.

Fromson died June 9 in his sleep in Los Angeles after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. He was 88.

Born Sept. 1, 1929, in the Bronx, N.Y., one of his early idols was legendary CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow. “I was enamored of him,” Fromson recalled in a 2015 Jewish Journal interview. “I’d go to sleep with a pencil under my pillow, pretending I was a microphone.”

His family moved to Los Angeles when Murray was 11 and he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the old Sinai Temple. The start of his journalistic career was as a copy boy and stringer at the Los Angeles Times, followed by an stint in the Army as a reporter for Stars and Stripes. After his discharge, he joined the Associated Press, filing stories from across the United States and Southeast Asia.

In 1960, he followed in Murrow’s footsteps and became a network correspondent, first for NBC and then during a decades-long career with CBS. Abroad, he covered the Vietnam War, including the fall of Saigon, and at home he reported

Murray Fromson

on the Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy presidential race and the civil rights movement in the South.

Fromson was deeply effected by the brutality he witnessed in Vietnam and the American  South. As an eye witness to so much hatred and devastation, Fromson said, “What can I say, except ‘When will this misery ever stop?’ ”

Fromson entered the struggle for freedom of the press in 1969, when President Nixon vowed to subpoena journalists to force them to reveal the names of anti-war activists.

With Tony Lukas of The New York Times, Fromson established the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which continues to this day.

During a two-year stint as CBS bureau chief in Moscow in the mid-1970s, Murray and his wife, Dodi, befriended many Soviet Jews who were barred from emigrating to Israel by the Communist government.

The Moscow experience made a strong impression on the two Fromson children, Lisa and Derek. The former, adopting the name of Aliza Ben Tal, studied at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and subsequently worked in the president’s office as assistant for international affairs.

The Fromson parents joined their daughter’s effort by sponsoring an annual — and ongoing — Fromson Media Mission to BGU, which has brought the university’s accomplishments to the attention of millions of American readers and viewers.

Fromson joined the faculty of the USC in 1982 and served as director of its communications and journalism school for five years. He founded the university’s Center for International Journalism, which brought foreign journalists, mainly from Latin America, for study on the USC campus.

In a tribute to her predecessor, Willow Bay, current dean of the USC journalism school, told The New York Times, “Not only was professor Fromson one of the great journalists of his time, he was also a an extraordinary teacher and leader, who built the USC international journalism program from the ground up.”

In addition to Dodi, his wife of 57 years, and two children, Fromson is survived by two grandchildren.