Letter shows Walter Cronkite knew how to treat a PR executive

A letter written by the late, great news anchor Walter Cronkite shows that he was no stranger to drinking cocktails with public relations folks in the 1950’s.

And do you ever get up this way so we could lift a glass again? (When you do my private, unlisted number is LEhigh 5-5962. I’ll be standing by with the refreshments in hand.)

Cronkite was beloved by viewers and considered “the most trusted man in America.” He anchored many of the most important news stories of the 20th century including the moon landing. He also liked a drink and seemed to treat PR people like royalty.

December 9, 1959

Dear Perry:

It was good to hear from you. I had made inquiries in the past and knew that you were in the public relations and advertising business in Oklahoma, but I didn’t know how to contact you.

How is it going? And do you ever get up this way so we could lift a glass again? (When you do my private, unlisted number is LEhigh 5-5962. I’ll be standing by with the refreshments in hand.)

The picture is on the way, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how its display is going to increase your prestige around Tulsa where I must be remembered primarily for that Tulsa-O. U. debacle.

All the best,
Walter Cronkite

Cronkite was also kind enough to send the PR executive a photo.

“The picture is on the way, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how its display is going to increase your prestige around Tulsa where I must be remembered primarily for that Tulsa-O. U. debacle.

The joke about the Tulsa – Oklahoma University debacle was a reference to Cronkite’s first broadcasting job as a play-by-play radio announcer for Oklahoma football. He made his debut in 1937 and called his performance a “disaster.” Cronkite said the experience taught him a valuable lesson in preparation.

And, that’s the way it was.

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