A Brooklyn, New York native, Fishman received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University where he worked at the campus radio station. He also received a master’s degree in political science from UCLA in 1956. Planning for a career in academia, he worked as an assistant political science professor at California State University, Los Angeles for two years. Eventually, Los Angeles independent television station KCOP approached Fishman to teach an on-air course, and later, the station invited him to anchor his own segment. Fishman had been on the air continuously since June 20, 1960, moving from KCOP to KTLA in 1965. That year, he received significant exposure as a field reporter for KTLA when he helped cover the Watts Riots live from the Los Angeles Police Department command center. Fishman also worked at KTTV and KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV) during the early 1970s, returning to KTLA on January 8, 1975, to anchor their evening new broadcast NewsWatch, later renamed News at Ten.
As a news anchor, Fishman covered numerous events in Los Angeles and the world, ranging from the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, to the Sylmar and Northridge earthquakes, to Pope John Paul II’s 1987 visit to Southern California. He, along with KTLA, was credited for being the first to air footage of the police beating of Rodney King in 1991, an event that sparked riots a year later when the officers were acquitted. In 2000, KTLA dedicated its newsroom in Fishman’s honor, commemorating his 40 years in television and his years of service and commitment to the region. Fishman had won numerous awards, including the Associated Press Television-Radio Association’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. He received a “star” on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame,” and KTLA named its television news studio after Fishman. He also authored two novels, Flight 902 Is Down (co-authored with aviation writer Barry J. Schiff) and The Vatican Target. Hal was also an accomplished pilot and set 13 records for speed and altitude. In 1969, he was awarded the Louis Blériot medal by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Hal Fishman’s last broadcast was on July 30, 2007, eight days before his death. On July 31, 2007, the night before Fishman became ill and after his last broadcast, KTLA celebrated his 47 years in television with a special gala at the Autry National Museum in Los Angeles. The event was emceed by Morning Show anchor Michaela Pereira and attended by such dignitaries as Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca. During the gala, Fishman spoke to the audience about his time in television. He appeared somewhat fatigued but little would be known about his condition until the day after. Fishman died August 7, 2007 at home, 18 days before he would have turned 76, following recent treatment for a liver infection, which had detected cancer in his liver and colon. That morning, the station interrupted its regular news schedule and dedicated much of the Morning Show and Prime News broadcasts to Fishman. The reporters on Prime News did not break for commercials that evening.
- August, 25, 1931
- Brooklyn, New York
- August, 07, 2007
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- liver and colon cancer