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Good Night, and Good Luck

Shivah Stars

Marc Tracy
May 19, 2011
Robert Downey, Jr., as Joseph Wershba in Good Night, and Good Luck.(IMDB)
Robert Downey, Jr., as Joseph Wershba in Good Night, and Good Luck.(IMDB)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Joseph Wershba, who died of pneumonia Saturday at 90. Over the past several years, his greatest claim to fame could have been that he was portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr., in the George Clooney film Good Night, and Good Luck, which is about CBS news anchor Edward R. Murrow’s crusade against McCarthyism in the 1950s (Wershba’s wife, the former Shirley Lubowitz, was played by Patricia Clarkson; Shirly Wershba survives her husband).

But from the 1950s on, Wershba was known primarily for his journalism: First under Murrow at CBS (where he interviewed a prominent former military officer who had been discharged because his father subscribed to “questionable” publications); as a reporter for the New York Post; and as one of the six original producers on CBS’s new newsmagazine, something called 60 Minutes. At this last stop, two of his segments, both with Morley Safer, won Emmys: One, from 1971, on “What Happened in Tonkin Gulf;” and another, from 1978, which was a profile of the legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. Hey, CBS: Please put this last thing online?

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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