Julian Goodman, the former president of NBC who produced the second Nixon-Kennedy debate, signed Johnny Carson to what was then a record contract and sparred with the Nixon Administration, has died, The New York Times reported. He was 90.
Goodman died Monday at his home in Juno Beach, Fla., of kidney failure, a family spokesman told the Times.
Born May 1, 1922, in Glasgow, Ky., he started out as a $3-a-week reporter for The Glasgow Daily Times, the Times said. He serving in the Army, then moved to Washington, where he was hired to replace David Brinkley on the night news desk.
He rose to become an executive who pressed NBC to pair Brinkley and Chet Huntley to anchor the 1956 Democratic and Republican conventions, and the two went on to anchor NBC’s nightly news together for more than a decade. Goodman also produced the second Nixon-Kennedy debate in 1960 in Washington. He was named the network's president in 1965.
He sparred with Nixon Administration officials, including Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, who accused the news media of biased Vietnam coverage, and speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan, who wanted the networks to be decentralized (and went on to work as a commmentator for MSNBC).
Highlights of his tenure included signing Johnny Carson to a then-record-setting $1 million deal to stay on as host of “The Tonight Show.” A lowlight was having to apologize to viewers after the infamous "Heidi bowl," in which NBC cut away from a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to air the movie "Heidi." Viewers missed a spectacular comeback by the Raiders.