Channel 7 Is Abuzz That Anchor Queen Diana Lewis Is Calling It Quits..
UPDATE: A few hours after Deadline Detroit broke the news of Diana Lewis' retirement, WXYZ-TV announced it in a story on its web site Wednesday.
One of Detroit’s TV newsrooms is talking about a big personnel change.
The buzz is happening at Broadcast House in Southfield, home of WXYZ, where staffers are saying it appears Diana Lewis is preparing to retire after a long and notable career on TV and in movies. They say she has talked to management about the possibility of accelerating her retirement schedule, and her last newscast could take place in the coming weeks.
Nobody will talk about it officially. Neither Lewis nor station vice president and general manager Ed Fernandez returned several requests for comment over the past two days.
Lewis, who began anchoring at WXYZ-TV July 4, 1977, is the dean of Detroit anchors, edging out WDIV's Carmen Harlan by several months, though Lewis took some time off in the 1980s.
In serving as Channel 7’s reassuring, steady, no-nonsense anchorwoman, she has brought two generations of Detroiters such news as the first re-election of Mayor Coleman Young, some of the original Oakland County Child Killer incidents and the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. She also has been a mainstay of local charities and the recipient of countless awards. She was always a Detroit booster, even at the city's lowest moments over the past 35 years.
Lewis notably teamed with the bombastic Bill Bonds as well as her own daughter, Glenda Lewis, who is a Channel 7 reporter and anchor. They shared the anchor desk on the night before Mother's Day, 2004, and were reportedly the first mother-daughter anchor duo on American TV.
Bonds, reached at his home this week, said he was "under the weather" and wouldn't be able to comment at length for two weeks.
"We had a great relationship," he said. "Give my love to Diana."
Glenda Lewis did not respond to an email asking for comment.
In May, as if to tie up a loose end, Lewis journeyed to Atlanta to do an emotional story about a man who stepped forward and saved her from a mugging, or worse, near the CNN studios in 1986.
"I hollered out, 'Dear God help me, please someone help me,'” she said on the report.
Lewis called the anonymous stranger who saved her "an angel," and she asked viewers to help find him. It is unclear if she received any tips.
Lewis grew up outside of Philadelphia and started her career in 1968 on "Black Book," a show about the African American community, at WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. Four years later, she moved into news, first in Philadelphia and then in Hollywood, where she worked as a weekend anchor and consumer reporter, becoming a celebrity in her own right.
Film producers saw something in her style, and she appeared in “Rocky" and "Rocky 5," and on such TV shows as "The Twilight Zone," "Hunter," "The Gary Shandling Show," "Murder, She Wrote" and "The Million Dollar Caper."
Channel 7 has seen two other longtime personalities depart in the past two years, weatherman Jerry Hodak and sportscaster Don Shane.
Some factoids about Diana Lewis:
She has known her husband, Glenn, since nursery school. They dated in high school, when he was a basketball star and Diana was a cheerleader.
She got her big break at a Philadelphia TV station when she filled in on the air for a guest who had become sick. The guest was author Maya Angelou.
She once opened a can of refried beans right off the shelf and showed on camera that it was loaded with prickly burrs.
She provided emotional and financial support to a young Vietnamese girl in Los Angeles, whom she met while covering a refugee story in the 1970s. The girl later graduated from Stanford.
She is friends with Regis Philbin.
She turned down a starring role in the movie “Mandingo” because it called for a nude scene.