Christine Chubbuck: biography — (FamPeople.com)

To view original article click here

Famous People

August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974

 Depression

Chubbuck spoke to her family at length about her struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies, though she did not inform them of her specific intent beforehand. She had attempted to overdose on medication in 1970 and frequently made reference to the event. She had also been seeing a psychiatrist up until several weeks before her death. Chubbuck’s mother chose not to tell station management of her daughter’s suicidal tendencies because she feared she would be fired as a result.Kamstock, Dr. Edwin L. Sarasota County Associate Medical Examiner, Autopsy report #A-74-203, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept. file, case #74-15120, July 15, 1974.

Her focus on her lack of relationships is generally considered to be the driving force for her depression; her mother later summarized “her suicide was simply because her personal life was not enough.” She lamented to co-workers her 30th birthday was approaching and she was still a virgin who had never been on more than two dates with a man. Her brother Greg later recalled several times she had gone out with a man, before moving to Sarasota, but agreed she had trouble connecting socially in the beach resort town. He believed her constant self-deprecation for being “dateless” contributed to her ongoing depression.Interview with Greg Chubbuck for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Christine Chubbuck”, E! Entertainment Television, February 26, 2007.

She had had her right ovary removed in an operation the year before, and had been told that if she did not become pregnant within two to three years, it was unlikely she would ever be able to conceive.

Apparently, she had an unrequited crush on co-worker George Peter Ryan. She baked him a cake for his birthday and sought his romantic attention, only to find out he was already involved with sports reporter Andrea Kirby. Kirby had been the co-worker closest to Chubbuck, but she was offered a new job in Baltimore, which had further depressed Chubbuck.

Chubbuck’s lack of a romantic partner was considered a tangent of her desperate need to have close friends, though co-workers said she tended to be brusque and defensive whenever they made friendly gestures toward her. She was self-deprecating, criticizing herself constantly and rejecting any compliments she was given.”

Suicide

On the morning of July 15, 1974, Chubbuck confused co-workers by claiming she had to read a newscast to open her program, Suncoast Digest, something she had never done before. That morning’s talk show guest waited across the studio while she sat at the news anchor’s desk. During the first eight minutes of her program, Chubbuck covered three national news stories and then a local restaurant shooting from the previous day. The restaurant was the Beef and Bottle Restaurant at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport on U.S. 41.Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept. file, case #74-15120, July 15, 1974. The film reel of the restaurant shooting had jammed and would not run, so Chubbuck shrugged it off and said on-camera, “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.” She drew the revolver and shot herself behind her right ear. Chubbuck fell forward violently and the technical director faded rapidly to black.Rubin, Valerie. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 16, 1974. Camera operator Jean Reed later recalled she thought it had been an elaborate prank and did not realize Chubbuck had actually shot herself until she saw Chubbuck’s twitching body.

The station quickly ran a standard public service announcement and then a movie.Wire reports. “Newswoman shoots self on live TV,” The Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1974, page 1A. Some television viewers called the police, while others called the station to inquire if the shooting was staged.”Florida TV talk show host dies after shooting herself during broadcast”, Associated Press, July 16, 1974.

After the shooting, news director Mike Simmons found the papers from which Chubbuck had been reading her newscast contained a complete script of her program, including not only the shooting, but also a third-person account to be read by whatever staff member took over the broadcast after the incident. He said her script called for her condition to be listed as “critical”.

Chubbuck was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, as her script had predicted; there, she was pronounced dead fourteen hours later. Upon receiving the news, a WXLT staffer released the information to other stations using Chubbuck’s script.

For a time, WXLT aired reruns of the TV series Gentle Ben in place of Chubbuck’s program.

Aftermath

Chubbuck’s body was cremated. The funeral ceremony was held on the beach where her ashes were scattered into the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 120 people attended, including local officials who had appeared on her show.”Special Memorial Service Held On Public Beach For TV Personality Christine Chubbuck”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 19, 1974. Three songs by Chubbuck’s favorite singer, Roberta Flack, were played.”Timothy Chubbuck Eulogizes Sister in Beach Service”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 18, 1974. Presbyterian minister Thomas Beason delivered the eulogy, stating “We suffer at our sense of loss, we are frightened by her rage, we are guilty in the face of her rejection, we are hurt by her choice of isolation and we are confused by her message.””Chris Chubbuck is Eulogized”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 18, 1974.

Chubbuck’s family brought an injunction against WXLT to prevent the release of the 2″ quad videotape of her suicide. The Sarasota Sheriff’s Department file lists a copy of the tape seized as evidence and later released it to Christine’s family along with her possessions.

Chubbuck’s suicide provided part of the inspiration for Paddy Chayefsky’s script for the 1976 satirical film on the television industry, Network. Source mistakenly mentioned Chubbock as an anchor for a Cleveland television station.

For the first time since 1974, Greg Chubbuck spoke publicly about his sister in a 2007 E! Entertainment Television special.Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Christine Chubbuck, E! Entertainment Television, first aired February 24–25, March 1, March 3, March 6, 2007 in the evening.

On the morning of July 15, 1974, Chubbuck confused co-workers by claiming she had to read a newscast to open her program, Suncoast Digest, something she had never done before. That morning’s talk show guest waited across the studio while she sat at the news anchor’s desk. During the first eight minutes of her program, Chubbuck covered three national news stories and then a local restaurant shooting from the previous day. The restaurant was the Beef and Bottle Restaurant at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport on U.S. 41.Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept. file, case #74-15120, July 15, 1974. The film reel of the restaurant shooting had jammed and would not run, so Chubbuck shrugged it off and said on-camera, “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.” She drew the revolver and shot herself behind her right ear. Chubbuck fell forward violently and the technical director faded rapidly to black.Rubin, Valerie. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 16, 1974. Camera operator Jean Reed later recalled she thought it had been an elaborate prank and did not realize Chubbuck had actually shot herself until she saw Chubbuck’s twitching body.

The station quickly ran a standard public service announcement and then a movie. Wire reports. “Newswoman shoots self on live TV,” The Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1974, page 1A. Some television viewers called the police, while others called the station to inquire if the shooting was staged.”Florida TV talk show host dies after shooting herself during broadcast”, Associated Press, July 16, 1974.

After the shooting, news director Mike Simmons found the papers from which Chubbuck had been reading her newscast contained a complete script of her program, including not only the shooting, but also a third-person account to be read by whatever staff member took over the broadcast after the incident. He said her script called for her condition to be listed as “critical”.

Chubbuck was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, as her script had predicted; there, she was pronounced dead fourteen hours later. Upon receiving the news, a WXLT staffer released the information to other stations using Chubbuck’s script.

For a time, WXLT aired reruns of the TV series Gentle Ben in place of Chubbuck’s program.