By Brett Holey, NBC Nightly News director
I learned today that Norman W. Cook passed away last Friday at the age of 89. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, and yet I owe him a great deal.
Mr. Cook was the Director of The Huntley-Brinkley Report and then NBC Nightly News from the mid '60s until the early '80s. Julian Finkelstein took over the job from him. I succeeded Julian in 1997.
He has been described to me as a gentleman, very competent, low-key and a "class act." In a business full of ambition and some big egos, many would hope for greater superlatives; yet given the stresses of the business and his position in it, these terms are very high praise indeed.
Mr. Cook's low-key style and respect for his colleagues was an approach that has not always been found among live television directors. Julian continued that air of calm and respect during his tenure, just as I have always attempted to since taking over for him.
I have long considered myself one of the luckiest, most blessed people around for a number of reasons. High among them, I have been fortunate to make my living in a great job in a very interesting profession. Mr. Cook's passing reminds me that since I was in kindergarten the job has only been held by two other men. Both gentleman, both fine professionals.
Rest in peace, Mr. Cook, and thank you.