Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

Distributed December 17, 1993
Contact: Mark Nickel

Background on Walter H. Annenberg

Walter H. Annenberg, born March 13, 1908, has enjoyed a challenging career as an editor and publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philanthropist.

A Milwaukee native, he was graduated from The Peddie School, Hightstown, N.J., and attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He entered the family publishing business in Philadelphia where he became president of Triangle Publications, Inc. in 1940 and, subsequently, chairman of the board.

While serving as editor and publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Annenberg saw the need for a publication for teenage girls and in 1944 established Seventeen magazine. In 1953, as a result of his belief that television's growth would create a demand for more information on the part of viewers, he established TV Guide as a national publication.

Under Annenberg's initiative, Triangle Publications bought a radio station in the early 1940s in Philadelphia and built a VHF television station, which was one of the first TV stations owned by a publishing house. The radio-TV division of Triangle grew to include six AM and six FM radio stations, and six TV stations. The Philadelphia station pioneered a number of broadcasting concepts, among which was Annenberg's decision to present educational programming via television. This resulted in a series of educational programs that ran for more than a decade. In 1951, Annenberg became an early recipient of the prestigious Alfred I. Dupont Award for pioneering education via television. He was also given the Marshall Field Award in 1958. In 1983, he received the Ralph Lowell Medal for "outstanding contribution to public television."

A man with a deep interest in education, he founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1971. In 1983, The Annenberg Schools established The Washington Program in Communication Policy Studies in response to a growing awareness that difficult government and industry problems were emerging in a rapidly changing telecommunications fields.

Annenberg was named the ambassador to the Court of St. James's in 1968 and served in Great Britain until Oct. 30, 1974. In 1970, Triangle sold The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, and in 1971, the radio and television stations. All remaining Annenberg publications were sold Oct. 31, 1988.

A founder-trustee of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, whose offices are in Philadelphia, and The Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Annenberg is also a trustee of the Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowships and is currently honorary chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Eisenhower Medical Center and honorary overseer of the Board of Overseers of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is emeritus trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the University of Pennsylvania, and The Peddie School. He is currently a director in the New American Schools Development Corporation.

He has received honorary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, University of Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Northwestern University, among others.

Annenberg was named honorary knight commander, Order of the British Empire, by Queen Elizabeth II, honorary because of his being a citizen of the United States, not the United Kingdom, and has received numerous other foreign honors.

Among his other honors are the Gold Medal of the Pennsylvania Society, Magazine Publisher of the Year (1984) and the American Academy of Achievement Award (1984). In 1986, President Reagan awarded Annenberg the Medal of Freedom, saluting him for being the pioneer in the use of television for educational purposes. In 1989, he received a George Foster Peabody Award. He was named Town & Country magazine's Generous American Award in December 1990. In 1992, he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. This past October he received the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Distinguished Public Service by the American Philosophical Society.

Annenberg's wife, Leonore, served as U.S. chief of protocol, with the rank of ambassador, from 1981-1982. They live in Wynnewood, Pa.