Frank Kearns in Jordan

1917

Born November 28 in Gary, Indiana to Michael Joseph Kearns, a civil engineer, and Mary Ruth Semans, a housewife.

Photo

1938

Graduates from West Virginia University and begins as a reporter-photographer for The Morgantown Post.

Army Photo

1941

Enlists in the U.S. Army on August 30 and is assigned to the Counterintelligence Corps School and arrives in London in July 1942.

Photo

1943

Marries British actress/dancer Gwendoline Ethel Shoring on October 5, then prepares for the Allied landing at Normandy in August 1944.  Named head of counterintelligence in Paris and enters Dachau with the 45th Division in April 1945.

Eisenhower book

1946

Spends the post-war years as a reporter for The Star in Miami Beach, a freelance writer for national magazines, public relations specialist in business and politics, and a best-selling ghost writer for Eisenhower Was My Boss by Kay Summersby.

CBS Cairo

1953

Joins CBS News in Cairo, Egypt as a stringer for radio.  Meets up with former roommates from London, James Eichelberger and Miles Copeland, Jr. 

Underground News Conference

1955

Hires Yousef Masraff to handle photographic assignments for fledgling television news. Covers an “underground news conference” on July 21, his first TV news report.  By 1956, Kearns files 18 more reports for TV.

Algerian Insurgent

1957

CIA head Allen Dulles tells CBS News President Sig Mickelson that “[Kearns] works for us.”  Later he is shown a Kearns letter of resignation from the CIA.  Then Kearns and Masraff are asked to do something “a bit unrealistic…or impossible,” join with the FLN to cover the Algerian rebels fight for independence from the French.  Eric Severeid tells Kearns, “I admired your work…This is reporting at its best.  Everyone is aware of your accomplishments.”

Algerian Questions

1958

Kearns and Masraff earn major journalism awards for their contributions to the documentary Algeria Aflame.  Both are offered full-time employment with CBS News.  Kearns is named to the elite tier of CBS Staff Correspondents.

Masraff

1961

CBS closes Cairo bureau. Kearns moves to New York.  Within a year, he’s based in London and back in Algeria.  In 1963, CBS names him Africa Bureau Chief.

1963

1963

With Joe Masraff, Kearns is feared lost in the desert during a night ambush while covering the border war between Algeria and Morocco.

1964

1964

On May 25, Frank Kearns delivers the longest on-air story for The CBS Evening News, interviewing Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Equatorial West Africa; then, spends the rest of the year covering war in the Congo.

1966

1966

Kearns covers the Aberfan, Wales mining disaster on October 22 – 29 and floofing in Italy, November 7 – 10.

1968

1968

Kearns reports on the Thalidomide Baby Trial in Heidelberg, West Germany on May 26.

Typing on beach

1969

Kearns covers the Paris Peace Talks for the evening news in January; travels in Europe with President Richard Nixon in February; interviews Golda Meir in Israel and the father of Robert Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan in Jordan in April; tours “Mountains of the Moon” in Uganda for Apollo 11 coverage in July; rejoins Nixon tour in India in July/August; Northern Ireland violence in August.

TV Station

1970

In January, Frank Kearns is imprisoned in Nigeria for investigating reports of genocide and decides to retire from CBS News. His last story is filed on August 24, a report about GM trucks made in Italy for the Chinese market.

1971

Frank Kearns retires from CBS News after 17 years and is named a Benedum Professor at West Virginia University.

CBS News

1976

CBS News President Sig Mickelson tells a U.S. Senate committee on February 10 that Frank Kearns worked for the CIA while stationed in Egypt with CBS News in the 1950s. Kearns denied it.

CBS News

1983

Frank Kearns retires from West Virginia University.  He and Sara move to Sardinia so he can write his memoir.

CBS News

1986

August 1 Frank Kearns dies of cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.