You'll never guess who he was defending

By Alex Heigl
Updated December 17, 2013 02:30 PM

Will Ferrell recently revealed that his inspiration for Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy came from a real-life anchor named Mort Crim.

Crim worked at newsrooms around the country, and was – with anchorwoman Jessica Savitch in Philadelphia – part of one of the first male-female news desk pairings in the country.

Ferrell told The New York Times that he was inspired to create Ron Burgundy while watching a documentary about Savitch. Crim was speaking about his experience with Savitch, and as Ferrell recalls, “He literally said the line: ‘You have to remember, back then I was a real male chauvinist pig. I was not nice to her.'”

Crim takes his fictional representation in great stride: “I don’t think you ever really see yourself in a parody, but it was fun,” he told Philadelphia magazine. “Like any good satire, [Ferrell] took a basic idea and took it all to the extreme to get comedic value from it.”

Crim actually said recently that he identifies as a feminist, which brings us to our next point: While researching Crim, we came across a letter he’d written to PEOPLE in 1983, shortly after the magazine published a long feature on Savitch after her death.

“Your article about Jessica Savitch could have been a tribute to a gracious and talented lady,” Crim’s letter begins. “Instead, it was a hatchet job based on innuendo and the statements of disgruntled ex-associates.”

“Jessica would have been the last person to claim she was a saint. But this hardworking journalist who cared deeply about her profession and her friends deserved far better than you gave her.”

“When Jessica and I co-anchored the news in Philadelphia several years ago, a columnist took a couple of unfair shots at her. I reminded Jess then that the only way anyone can stab you in the back is if you’re out front. Maybe that’s why she was an easy target. ”

The letter’s signed, “Mort Crim, Detroit.” Crim anchored at WDIV-TV, Detroit’s NBC affiliate, from 1978 to 1997. His co-anchor? A woman named Carmen Harlan.

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