Stan Chambers, the veteran local TV news reporter whose career at KTLA spanned more than six decades, died Friday, according to his family. He was 91.
Chambers passed away shortly after 10:30 a.m. at his Holmby Hills home surrounded by family, according to his daughter Mary Moro. He is survived by his wife GeGe, 11 children, 38 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Chambers family,” KTLA President and General Manager Don Corsini said. “Stan was a brilliant journalist and one of the best in the business.
“I grew up watching Stan on KTLA. It was a great privilege to, years later, work with him. He set the standard for our business … a pioneer, a trailblazer.”
During his 63 years with the station, Chambers covered more than 22,000 stories, ranging from floods and fires to the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
“He will be remembered as a pioneer in the industry, and a pillar of the KTLA family,” KTLA News Director Jason Ball said.
Chambers was fresh out of the U.S. Navy, enrolled in USC and working on the campus magazine when he first heard about KTLA.
“I heard a program one night saying that one of the local television stations had expanded its broadcasting schedule,” Chamber said during a 2010 retrospective of his career. “I didn’t even know that television was on the air. And I said, ‘How about doing a program on a campus magazine?’ That was my debut and after it was over, I thought, ‘Oh, this is a wonderful job.'”
A few months later, KTLA invited Stan to join the fledgling station. He started work on Dec. 1, 1947.
He spent his first few months behind the camera building sets and pushing cameras. He soon made his way on to television through guest appearances on a variety of shows.
After just 16 months at the station, Chambers covered what would become a defining moment in both his career and in television history: the story of Kathy Fiscus, a 3-year-old girl trapped in abandoned well in San Marino.
Chambers, along with journalist Bill Welsh, alternated coverage during a live 27-hour telecast covering the rescue operation. Despite only an estimated few thousand television sets in Los Angeles, the groundbreaking moment proved to be a shared experience across the Southland, Chambers said.
“We had no idea of the impact that this was going to make,” Chambers said. “It really brought the city together. Los Angeles was a big city, but on this one weekend, it became a small town. Neighbors would visit neighbors they didn’t know very well. They’d sit in front of the set. They’d have dinner there. They’d go to sleep on the floor, really right up to the end.
Photos: Stan Chambers Through the Years
“For the first time, they experienced the long form of television, that they were a part of this whole broadcast from the moment they started looking,” Chambers said.
Chambers worked on KTLA’s first daily newscast, launched in 1962. Over the next five decades, he would report on the biggest stories in Southern California, including the 1965 Watts riots, the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the Rodney King beating.
Chambers, who was as a dedicated family man, philanthropist and educator, continued to report for KTLA until his retirement on his 87th birthday, Aug. 11, 2010.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a portion of Sunset Boulevard and a building on the KTLA lot are named after him.
“He will be greatly missed,” Ball said.