Friends Say Mornings Won’t Be the Same Without Jane
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Friends and former classmates of ″Today″ co-host Jane Pauley say it will be hard to wake up without her when she leaves the show after 13 years Friday.
Among the former schoolmates of the Indianapolis native is Ken Conway, an Indianapolis psychiatrist who teamed with Pauley on Warren Central High School’s speech team until they graduated in 1968.
″I thought the world of Janie then and still do, which is how most of us who knew her back then feel,″ Conway said.
A spokesman for the NBC-TV show confirmed that camera crews have been in Indianapolis this month capturing footage of Pauley’s hometown to be used in a tribute when she says goodbye Friday.
Pauley, 39, an Indiana University graduate and former reporter for WISH-TV in Indianapolis, will be replaced by Deborah Norville.
″Janie’s favorite expression used to be, ’Bless your heart,‴ said Mary Murphy Fridlund, a physical therapist at Community Hospital and ’69 Warren Central graduate. ″That’s the kind of person she was, neighborly and caring.
″I just get to see bits and pieces of ‘Today.’ ... I only tune in to see how Janie is and how she looks. I doubt I’ll watch if she’s not there, unless there is an overwhelming news event like a hostage crisis.″
Bill Shaw, 41, a writer and contributor to People magazine, dated Pauley for several years and remains a close friend. He served as a go-between with Pauley and Life magazine, which features her in this month’s cover story.
″When I was talking to Jane, all this controversy over Deborah Norville was breaking. Yet she was handling it with class, poise and even a sense of calm,″ Shaw said. ″I shouldn’t have been surprised. It reminded me of the way she handled the Chicago situation.″
TV critics blasted Pauley, then 24, when she became the Windy City’s first evening news anchorwoman. She survived those attacks and replaced Barbara Walters on ″Today″ in 1976.
Pauley, elected 1967 governor of Indiana Girls State, also was state champ in girl’s extemporaneous speaking.
″Regardless of subject, in any class I was in with Jane she always got the highest grade on the test,″ recalled Ward Beckham, 39, director of marketing for Community Centers of Indianapolis. ″Not only was she intelligent and attractive, she was always approachable, never ’stuck up.‴
″I won’t watch ‘Today’ with the same interest. I certainly won’t watch with the same feeling in my heart.″