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Bill Kurtis – Cowboy Historian

Bill Kurtis Cowboy Historian 2007“For God’s sake, take cover!” (warning viewers of the 1966 Topeka tornado)

Bill Kurtis was born on Sept. 21, 1940 to Wilma M. and William A. Kurtis in Pensacola, FL where his father was a Marine Corps general. After his father’s service the family settled in Independence, KS. Bill first broadcast at KIND-AM radio at Independence Junior College. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1962 with a B.S. in Journalism. He obtained a Juris Doctor in 1966 at Washburn University School of Law. Bill began his TV career anchoring at WIBW-TV in Topeka. In 1966 he gained prominence when a tornado hit the capital city. After warning his viewers, he stayed on the air for 24 hours covering the devastation. He soon headed for Chicago to work at WBBM-TV News where he moved into the anchor position. In 1982 he joined network TV as anchor on the CBS Morning News. Three years later he returned to Chicago to produce documentaries for the Peabody Award winning series The New Explorers and to serve as anchorman for WBBM-TV until 1996. In 1990 he started Kurtis Productions, which produces shows for the A&E network. Bill frequently hosts and narrates on A&E for Cold Case Files and American Justice. During his career Bill has received numerous honors and awards, including over 20 Emmys, the Cable Ace Award, a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Thurgood Marshall Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago International TV Awards, the Illinois Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters 2003 Hall of Fame Award. Since the early 2000’s Kurtis has been active in the promotion and raising of grass-fed beef. He owns the 10,000 acre Red Buffalo Ranch in southeast Kansas and founded the Tallgrass Beef Company.

Year inducted: 2007

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