William Charles Beuteli

William Charles Beuteli (December 12, 1930 – March 18, 2006) was a television reporter, journalist, and anchor in the United States. He was most known for his four decades of service to the American Broadcasting Company. He spent anchoring Eyewitness News for WABC-TV in New York City. Following the separation, he reported on the American Contemporary Network. Occasionally filled in for Paul Harvey, while his Eyewitness News colleague Roger Grimsby delivered a daily weekday afternoon radio program on the American Entertainment Network. In the latter capacity, he was assigned to a segment called “Final Thought,” which ran at the close of the  6 p.m. Eyewitness News and consisted of Beutel providing a quick opinion on a subject of the day, generally a one-minute recap of the broadcast.

Early life and career

After serving in the Army, Beutel graduated from Dartmouth College and then went on to study law at the University of Michigan Law School, where he departed without graduating. While in law school, Beutel wrote to Edward R. Murrow, saying, “I very much wanted to be a radio journalist.” Beutel got a letter from Columbia University urging him to attend the Graduate School of Journalism. His first radio position was in Cleveland, followed by a move to CBS Radio in New York City in 1957.

Television career

On October 22, 1962, Beutel joined ABC News as a reporter and anchor at the network’s flagship station in New York, WABC-TV. WABC-TV expanded its three-year ratings success with the program Report to New York, headed by Scott Vincent, to a one-hour 6:00 p.m. broadcast named The Big News. However, this growth was not without danger, and the new format suffered in the ratings. Beutel interviewed hundreds of renowned people, including African American Muslim and black nationalist leader Malcolm X.2 In April 1968, Beutel departed WABC after two years to become the full-time London bureau head for ABC News. In 1970, he received a call from Al Primo, who had taken over as WABC’s news director when Beutel resigned.

Personal life

Beutel had four marriages. His first marriage, to Gail Wilder, lasted twenty years and produced four children for Beutel: son Peter and daughters Robin, Colby, and Heather. In 1975, he married actress Lynn Deerfield, who was twenty years his junior, but the marriage was short-lived, as was Beutel’s third marriage, which lasted only four months. Beutel married Adair Atwell, a former tobacco industry lobbyist, in 1980. The reunited Grimsby-Beutel combo held Eyewitness News at the top of the ratings until the mid-1980s when it temporarily dropped to last place. Though the ratings dip was primarily due to ABC-low TV’s primetime performance at the time, it resulted in Grimsby’s dismissal in 1986. However, within a year, WABC-TV had reclaimed first place and has remained New York’s ratings leader ever since.

William Charles Beuteli Death

Following his retirement, Beutel and his wife relocated to North Carolina. A short time later, he was discovered to have a degenerative brain disorder known as Lewy body dementia. Beutel’s condition worsened as he grew older, and he died on March 19, 2006, at the age of 75. Beutel’s wife Adair, as well as his past spouses and four children from his first marriage, survived him. His son Peter, a businessman and energy industry expert, died in March 2012 following a heart attack, and his second wife Lynn Deerfield died in 2011. After Ernie Anastos departed to join WCBS, Beutel returned to the 11 p.m. Eyewitness News and was first teamed with then-longtime co-anchor Kaity Tong. Read more from Whispers