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Gordon Joseloff

9/17/15

Following a tribute to Ted Diamond from the state and town officials as well as a representative from France, the former First Selectman, Gordon Joseloff gave a synopsis of his journalism history together with a number of stories from those years.

Mr. Joseloff began by showing a number of historical slides showing him as a young child first growing up in Westport and then, following his parents’ divorce, splitting his time between his mother’s residence in New York City and summering with his father.  This gave him the opportunity to share walks in New York with former President Truman where he recorded the former President’s comments.  He noted that the President Truman sprinkled his comments with a good deal of salty language.  But these tapes turned out to be rare and later copies were requested for the Truman Library.

At an early age he developed his interest in journalism.  This first manifested itself in a radio station in Westport, which he founded.  Later he studied journalism at Syracuse University while at the same time actively working as a journalist.  After graduation, he was taken on full time as a journalist and covered a number of notable events including the John F. Kennedy birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang her breathy Happy Birthday tribute to the President and attending the last performance of My Fair Lady.  He also covered the Bobby Kennedy event where Kennedy was shot and was given the assignment to cover Kennedy’s hospital stay until Kennedy passed away from his wound.

Mr. Joseloff was also given the assignment of covering the Richard Nixon 1960 campaign.  And while boarding a press bus as part of this assignment, he first met Diane Sawyer who was handing out Bloody Marys to the press core.

Later Mr. Joseloff was sent to London and subsequently to Moscow to cover the Soviet Jewish dissidents who were in the process of emmigrating to Israel.  Such emmigration was heavily discouraged by the Soviets who didn’t want any pictures taken of the heavy handed tactics being used against these dissidents.  Mr Joseloff managed to take some photos and then hide the film in a sock when the KGB demanded that he hand the film over.  Later the photos were published to anger Soviet officials.  Then, while covering a subsequent event held by the dissidents, Mr. Joseloff handed out questionnaires to the participants.  Again the questionnaires were demanded by the KGB who physically confronted Joseloff.  He complied, but later found that he had become the subject of a number of cables between the U.S. State Department and the Soviet Government.

His actions in the Soviet Union brought him to the attention of CBS who hired him as a Moscow broadcaster.  Although he had limited experience as a broadcaster, Joseloff credits this experience as providing his broadcasting skills and training him to write quickly and to edit his work. 

 After he returned from Moscow, CBS later decided to send him back.  Now he was a more senior reporter and became the CBS ex-officio ambassador to Moscow.  Consequently, his journalism duties were augmented with the responsibility of entertaining diplomats and other VIPs.  During this period, Mr. Joseloff covered the stories of Sakharov’s exile and the Gdansk shipyard revolt in Poland.  He was still in Moscow when Walter Cronkite was sent over to cover a story despite his recent retirement. While Mr. Cronkite was in Moscow, President Reagan was shot and Mr. Joseloff was given the task of setting up a radio broadcast by Cronkite from Moscow.  Subsequently, Mr. Joseloff covered the memorial for Mr. Cronkite after his death.

After Moscow, Tokyo became Joseloff’s next assignment and he was given most of Asia and the Pacific as his territory.  As a result he covered riots in South Korea where he was tear gassed, the deposing of Marcos in the Philippines and the shooting down of South Korean flight 007 by the Soviets.

Later assignments took him to Berlin as well as covering post-war stories in the South Pacific and Vietnam.  He returned to Westport in 2003.