Pathbreaking entertainment reporter Bobbie Wygant dies

 February 20, 2024

Entertainment reporter Bobbie Wygant, who interviewed countless celebrities over the course of her career with Texas news station NBC 5, has died. She was 97.  

The news was confirmed by her employer of 70 years.

Wygant started out in broadcasting at the dawn of the television age, joining NBC 5 two weeks before it went on air in 1948.

WBAP-TV, as it was then known, was the first TV station in Texas. As Wygant liked to say, "they poured me in with the foundation."

TV reporter Bobbie Wygant dies

Among her many accomplishments, Wygant was the first woman to host a talk show in the American southwest, with Dateline. She was the show's producer as well during its 1960s run.

"I was the first woman to host a general interest television talk show. Before that women had to do the housekeeping things and the cooking and so forth," Wygant recalled. "The staff was 'moi!' I produced it. I did my own research."

She was on air when JFK was assassinated in Dallas in 1963 and interviewed the Beatles months later at the height of Beatlemania.

After Dateline ended, Wygant remained with NBC 5 as an arts and entertainment reporter. Not one for retirement, she continued freelancing for the station well into the 2000s.

The list of celebrities Wygant interviewed - Bob Hope, Bette Davis, Jodie Foster - is a who's who of big names through the decades.

"George worked until two years before he died at 100. I’d like to do the same,” she said of entertainer George Burns, one of her many interview subjects.

She received numerous accolades for her work, including being inducted into the Gold Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Indiana native was drawn to Texas

Wygant was born in Lafayette, Indiana, as Roberta Frances Connolly in 1926.

Her life was impacted by her mother's death from cancer at 16, which steered Wygant away from a career in medicine. She was drawn to Texas from a young age.

"I was always in love with Texas. When I was a little kid I guess, movies and things, I just always knew that someday I would go to Texas," Bobbie Wygant said.

In 2018, Wygant published a memoir about her career, Talking to the Stars: Bobbie Wygant's Seventy Years in Television.

She met her husband, Phil Wygant, at Purdue University. They moved to Texas and worked at WBAP together, with Phil remaining by his wife's side until his death in 1986.

They had no children.

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