Gabe Pressman, a reporter whose career over 70 years spanned the length and breadth of journalism in New York and across the U.S.A., died June 23.
His wife, Vera, confirmed he died in his sleep after a brief illness. He was 93 years old.
Gabe – everyone, from mayors to celebrities to regular New Yorkers, knew him as just “Gabe” – was also the longest serving member of the Inner Circle, joining in 1951 and serving as president in 1991. In recent years, he also was the troupe’s Dean.
“Gabe had a starring role each year, including our 2017 show.” said IC president Terry Sheridan. “He was the only one of us who received applause the moment he stepped out on the stage – and, of course, after he finished his skit and song.”
Here is the Inner Circle’s tribute to Gabe on his 90th birthday in 2014.
Gabe started out as a reporter for the World Telegram & Sun newspaper after coming home from service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Within a few years, he was drawn to the new medium – television. He was a pioneer in broadcasting and is considered the first television news reporter to do stories from the streets and scenes of where the news was happening.
Most of his broadcast career was with WNBC, Channel 4 in New York, the NBC network flagship station. In fact, WNBC gave Gabe a lifetime contract and he still reported to the newsroom, on a reduced schedule, this year.
The range of the stories he covered included: interviews with Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Fidel Castro; he reported as the Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in 1964, from Woodstock in 1969, and from the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Gabe was not only a pioneer in the development of TV news but also a mainstay.
At news conferences, with cameras rolling, he would ask the poignant, probing question. And in response, the mayor or governor or police commissioner would nearly always include a “Gabe” reference that was recorded. Of course, that personal reference on tape would hit other broadcast reporters like punches to the gut.
He covered some nine mayors, 13 presidents, and numerous stories from the Middle East, in particular Israel.
Gabe was also a staunch defender of the rights of journalists. He led countless campaigns to fight back against restrictions on access to news scenes for reporters and demanded that mayors answer questions on a full range of topics at scheduled news conferences. The day before his death, he retweeted about the need to protect journalists.
He was a past president of the New York Press Club and was chairman up until his death of the Club’s foundation and its freedom of the press committee.
By the time Gabe was well into his seventies, and still covering City Hall and election campaigns, he sometimes was the brunt of jokes and gibes about his age. A reference to, say, Abraham Lincoln would be followed by the well-meaning dig “Gabe, you covered Honest Abe didn’t you?”
Undeterred, Gabe would quietly smile, and then file a blog, or an opinion post for such contemporary news outlets as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
He never stopped being a reporter.