Christine Chubbuck

Christinechubbuck.jpg

Wow, I hadn’t heard about this before.

Christine Chubbuck (also named “Chris Hubbock” by some sources) (August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974) was a Hudson, Ohio native and an American television news reporter who committed suicide during a live television broadcast.

On July 15, 1974 at 9:38 AM, 8 minutes into her talk show, Suncoast Digest, on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida, she drew out a .38 caliber revolver and shot herself in the head. She died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital 14 hours later.

According to her co-workers working the day of her suicide she took the unusual step of excusing herself to write her script for the newscast. She normally opened her show with an interview and conducted an informal half hour; she never once opened her show with a newscast. She also placed under her desk a bag of puppets that she had occasionally used during a broadcast and also to entertain local children. Hidden in the bag was the revolver. Before her newscast she told the producer that she wanted them to get ready a film of a shooting that happened the weekend before and then she took her seat. After three pieces of news, she led into the shooting piece but without the film because it wouldn’t run correctly. It was here that she delivered her last words:

“In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts in living color, we bring you another first, an attempted suicide.”

She then shot herself. The technical director reacted quickly enough to cut the on-air video to black a split-second before she pulled the trigger.

(via del.icio.us/mosties)

6 Comments

  1. I remember this so vividly! I was only 12 years old at the time, but I remember my older sister talking to my mom about it in the kitchen. It was a shocking bit of news, and it has always stayed with me.

    (I especially think of it when I watch the original The Howling. Remember how, at the end, the news reporter has herself shot during the broadcast?)

  2. This reminds me of another on air death. There was this traffic reporter, Jane Dornacker giving a live news cast from the helicopter when the engine malfunctioned and you can hear the audio of her scream just before the feed cuts out. It stayed with me for a while after listening to that file. Wikipedia has a pretty good story about her too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Dornacker

  3. “The Singing Nun” suicide was also a shocker to me…

    The politician from Colorado blowing his brains out in a televised news conference (in front of his wife as well) actually made it on air. Guess he was quicker with the draw than they were with the plug.

  4. Hi, Chris…

    I’m such a big fan of your site, and your post about Chris Chubbuck brought back a lot of memories.
    Chris and i were co-workers at WXLT during those days and besides her delightful sense of humor, i remember that she was always in the newsroom when i got there and she was always there when i left.
    She was a good kid.
    Take care of yourself, bud…
    Peace-
    lee

  5. Wow, lee, thanks for commenting.

    I was born in ’74 so hadn’t heard of this at all until yesterday. She sounded like a person who was carrying a lot of pain. It’s too bad her legacy will be the newscaster who committed suicide on air.

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