Jeanne Parr was one of the first female news correspondents for CBS

By Stephanie Petit
May 24, 2016 05:05 PM
CBS via Getty

Jeanne Parr may be recognized nowadays for being The Good Wife and Sex and the City actor Chris Noth‘s mother, but the 92-year-old who died last Friday made a name for herself decades ago as a trailblazing journalist, model, author, and so much more.

After modeling and working on local news stations, the Madison, Wisconsin-native became one of the first female news correspondents for CBS.

And it all started with a blooper.

While doing the weather on a local news station in New Haven, Connecticut, Parr couldn’t find the state of Arkansas on a map, according to Wisconsin State Journal. What would have been a viral moment today turned into an appearance on the television show What’s My Line in 1960, where a panelist had to identify her with the clue, “Did you ever lose the state of Arkansas?”

A CBS producer was watching the show. He enjoyed her charisma and invited her to come to New York to work for the network.

“As a matter of fact, it was a very lucky appearance,” Parr said in a return visit to the program in March 1966. “Because the next day, on Monday, I received word from this network, and I’ve been working ever since.”

Once in “the City That Never Sleeps,” Parr became the weather presenter on the Jim Jensen Show and eventually became one of the first female correspondents for CBS News.

Her first glimpse of fame came well before that, though, in 1948 when she and her 7-month-old son Charles were featured on the cover of Life magazine as a stand-in for a feature about the quality of life in her native Madison.

Jeanne Parr was a pioneering CBS News broadcaster
Courtesy Chris Noth

Parr continued her career at CBS throughout the 1960s, reporting on the Republican National Convention in San Francisco as well as the Newark/New York riots in 1967.

In 1978, she became the host of her own talk show, The Jeanne Parr Show.

Parr eventually turned her attention behind the camera, working as a producer on documentaries, including a film on the war in Bosnia in 1993.

She also wrote a book on the spouses of superstar athletes called The Superwives and started a communications consulting firm, Parr Communications.

Parr is survived by two other sons, one of whom appeared as a baby with his mother at 24 years old on the cover of Life magazine in 1948. The issue included a feature in which the magazine sought out the best place to live in the United States, and the capital was Wisconsin was declared the winner. The cover shot of Parr, who was a local news anchor at the time, was shot in the backyard of her parents’ Madison home.

Parr told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2008 that she was enjoying her retirement in Maui. Her husband died in a car accident in 1965.