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Robert J. Williams, 94, Longtime Editor With 'The Bulletin'

December 28, 2006
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Robert J. Williams, 94, a high school newspaper editor who went on to pursue a career as a reporter, television critic and entertainment news editor for The Philadelphia Bulletin for more than 50 years, died Dec. 7 in Newtown.

Williams left Northeast High School after completing his senior year in 1930, and went to work as a newsroom receptionist for the Philadelphia Record, which later became The Bulletin. He advanced from a police precinct reporter to assistant city editor.

He often engaged in colorful storytelling about some of the landmark news stories of the 1930s and 1940s.

He wrote of the Hindenburg disaster, the Lindburgh kidnapping, and the many Hollywood celebrities he met at premieres and publicity events.

In 1953, Williams became the Bulletin's television critic penning his column "Around the Dials."

From the mid-1950s to 1960s, he reviewed and commented on television shows and the emerging field of TV journalism. He interviewed, became professional friends with and wrote about some of the pioneers of the early TV era, including Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, Dinah Shore, Jackie Gleason and Dick Clark. He attended congressional hearings, and reported and wrote commentary on the famous "Quiz Show" hearings and disk jockey "payola" scandals.

Williams also wrote a do-it-yourself column, and in the early 1960s became the amusements editor, covering other genres of entertainment like theater, movies and pop music.

He also traveled and reported on several tours throughout Europe with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

Williams retired in 1971 and traveled worldwide with his wife, Aline Williams, while he wrote freelance stories. They were in the first U.S. tourist group allowed into Communist China in 1972.

The couple eventually purchased a second home in the South of France, where he frequently covered the Cannes Film Festival. In 1982, he was on the scene to cover the fatal automobile accident of Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly).

Williams is survived by sons Anthony Williams and Charlie Williams, and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 63 years.

Memorial donations can be made to: Habitat for Humanity International, 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709-3498; or to: the United Negro College Fund, Donor Services Department, 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 10444, Fairfax, VA 22031-8004.

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