From Cajun Boy's blog comes the news that journeyman local news anchor Ron Hunter-who is thought by some to be the inspiration for Ron Burgundy in Anchorman-has passed away at the age of 70. "In his long career, Ron Hunter anchored top rated local news desks in New Orleans, Miami, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where he shared the desk with the likes of Jane Pauley and Maury Povich." After jump, one of the late newsman's former colleagues remembers his ego-driven antics, er, fondly?
Ed Kilgore, who worked with Hunter in Buffalo, recalls:
Ron Hunter had THE biggest ego of any person male or female I've ever worked with, and it's not even close. It was actually quite incredible how much Ron valued his own opinions and appearance, and yet in a strange way, he made it seem natural; like, doesn't EVERYBODY think like I do? You want an example? Ok, for starters, when Ron began anchoring at Ch2 after moving to Buffalo from New Orleans, where he virtually owned the market, we didn't call it Ch2 News, or Action News, or even News news. We called it, "The Ron Hunter Report". Not only that, Ron had a special animated opening made up, which featured a likeness of Ron, with his big buffont hair-do, running around with a microphone as if he's out getting the scoop. The show then opens, with Ron leaning into the camera, and with a booming voice "I'm Ron Hunter, and the big story in Buffalo is....." The standing joke around the news room, of course, was that the next word would be "me".
Ron was the actor of our generation, and seemed proud of it. He often BECAME the story, which was ok if it helped the ratings, and it often did. Oh, so you want an example? Here's one, and forgive me for forgetting the names, but Ron once did a tear jerking story about a young girl of 9 or 10 years old who was dying, who gave a vital organ to a girl her age so that the ailing young girl could have a nice future. Ron did some amazing interviews with the parents of both girls, and then in the story, used closeup shots of both girls with appropriate, gut-wrenching music behind them as we dissolved back and forth between the two adorable young faces. Heck, I'm crying just thinking about it. Anyway, do we fade to black here? Are you KIDDING? Heck no. I hear Ron instruct the cameraman to zoom in very close when he wraps up the story, so we finally come out of the story, and there isn't a dry eye in the studio or newsroom, and Ron hesitates...one beat....two beats.....three beats....a big tear — a REAL tear I'm telling you — gushes down from one eye, as Ron actually whispers on camera, "we'll be right back". You can't make this stuff up. Ron Hunter WAS Ron Burgundy in Anchorman if ever there was somebody to base it on.