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Larry Attebery, 73; Newsman Spent 3 Decades at KTTV, KCOP

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Times Staff Writer

Larry Attebery, an award-winning broadcast journalist who covered Los Angeles for more than three decades, including stints as anchor and news director at KTTV-TV Channel 11 and as a reporter for KCOP-TV Channel 13, has died. He was 73.

Attebery, who retired in 2001, died May 5 at a hospital in Henderson, Nev., after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said.

The Chicago-born Attebery began his broadcast career in 1960 at WBBM-AM (780), the CBS affiliate in Chicago, where he worked as a reporter and anchored a popular call-in program.

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From 1965 to 1967, he anchored “Today in Chicago” and “Larry Attebery’s Private Line” for WMAQ-TV Channel 5. He also produced and anchored a series of half-hour specials for NBC that earned him a local Emmy Award.

Arriving in Los Angeles in 1968, Attebery became the morning drive co-anchor for KNX-AM (1070), which had just switched to an all-news format. In 1973, he joined KTTV’s “On Target” investigative team and was later promoted to principal news anchor. In 1983, he became the news director at KTTV.

“He not only was a damn good street reporter, but he was a good writer, a good producer and, on top of that, a damn good director of news,” TV news veteran George Putnam, who worked with Attebery at KTTV, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

“He was incisive in his approach to news, and he was a tough master,” Putnam said. “If he differed with you, and he was on firm ground, he let you know it. He was preeminently fair, however. And you listened to Larry, because he had done it himself.”

While reporting for KCOP from 1988 to 2001, Attebery covered the criminal and civil trials of O.J. Simpson, delivered a series of “insider” political reports on the California primary and general elections, and covered the Los Angeles Police Department corruption scandal.

“He was a gentleman,” said TV news reporter Hal Eisner, who worked with Attebery at KTTV and KCOP. “The guy was polite but aggressive. He knew how to go out and get a story, but he was nice about it.

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“He was a very familiar person to all in Los Angeles for a very long time.”

Attebery won more than 50 local and national awards, including three local Emmys, seven Golden Mikes and eight from the Los Angeles Press Club. In 1999, he received the Edward R. Murrow Award for his series of reports on construction of the troubled Belmont Learning Center.

Attebery, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism who served as a journalist during a stint in the Navy, was a past president of the Los Angeles Press Club and of the Radio and Television News Assn. of Southern California.

Attebery also wrote, with Marvin J. Wolf, the 1993 book “Family Blood: The True Story of the Yom Kippur Murders.”

He is survived by his wife, Carol; two daughters, Tara Phelps and Michelle Attebery; a sister, Donna Attebery; and two grandchildren.

Instead of flowers, donations can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245.

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