socolow sanford 271 414Sanford Socolow

Class of 1950

Inducted 1999

In a 32-year-career at CBS News, Sanford Socolow — although mostly unknown to the general public — was a major behind-the-scenes figure who influenced the coverage of almost every major news story of that era. He came to CBS in 1956 as a writer for Walter Cronkite; became a vice president; was the network’s bureau chief in Washington during the Watergate probe; supervised news-gathering operations in Europe, the Soviet Union and the Middle East as London bureau chief; was a producer at “60 Minutes”; and was executive producer of “The CBS Evening News” for the last six years of Cronkite’s reign as anchor, then did the same during the transition period when Dan Rather succeeded Cronkite. Socolow was instrumental in coverage of all political conventions from 1960 to 1980 as well as the manned space program and the landing on the moon.

“Sandy was the conscience of the CBS newsroom, the go-to guy for everything,” said Morley Safer of “60 Minutes,” who first worked for Socolow while covering the war in Vietnam. “He was the guy who kept everybody on the straight and narrow.”

socolow sanford planning show

Sanford Socolow (second from left), plans a show with Walter Cronkite, Les Midgely and Richard Salant.

In 1988, Socolow left CBS to become the founding executive producer of “World Monitor,” a daily television news magazine owned by the Christian Science Monitor. That was followed by a reunion with Cronkite, when Socolow was named executive producer of “The Cronkite Report,” a Discovery Channel series of one-hour reports. When Cronkite died, in 2009, Socolow, who had worked intimately with him for so many years, was sought after by many of the country’s news outlets and asked for his views about working with the legendary newsman.

Born in New York on Dec. 10, 1928, young Sandy spent his early years on a Connecticut dairy farm run by his father and an uncle, milking cows and handling other rural chores. The family moved back to New York when he was 10. A few years later, when Socolow was a student at Stuyvesant High School, he wrote for The Stuyvesant Spectator, the school newspaper. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Baruch, thinking about becoming an accountant, but transferred to the uptown branch of CCNY when he determined that his interests lay elsewhere. He majored in history, joined the staff of The Campus and became its editor-in-chief.

socolow sanford cronkite's car

Socolow always had Cronkite’s ear.

In 1950, right after graduation — and just as the war in Korea was breaking out — Socolow became a copy boy at The New York Times, but was soon drafted into the Army. He wound up in Tokyo, where he was in charge of the Voice of United Nations Command, producing propaganda programs broadcast in Korean and Chinese to those countries. He was discharged in 1953 and went to work for International News Service as a war correspondent in Korea. He returned to New York in 1956 and was hired as a writer by Mike Wallace, then appearing on the DuMont network.

In 2014, Socolow was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of the Silurians. He died on Jan. 31, 2015 at the age of 86.