Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Harry Ryttenberg died
We just got word that Harry Ryttenberg died.
Harry was one of the great characters of the New York City news business, and he was in the business since he was a kid. His mother ran the newsstand outside the New York Daily News building, and he made the paper when he was a kid, rescuing a cop from a subway attack by grabbing his police radio and screaming “10-13! Officer down!” Later he wangled a job as a copy boy for the News, but Harry always really wanted to be a cop-- which is why you see him dressed as a cop above. Harry worked with the cops, he worked around them and he got a badge and a uniform, but he'll be remembered as a New York City TV journo.
In 1979, he launched the independent Broadcast News Service, the late night prowlers who roamed the city with police radios and video cameras and responded to bloody crimes and accidents, shot the footage and sold it to the local TV stations who worked by day. Mark Monsky and John Parsons brought Harry to the WNEW-TV 10 O’Clock News team in the early eighties, where he worked as assignment editor. He always had wad of bills, a handgun in an ankle holster, police radios on his belt and a big dark sedan with lights and sirens. Harry was a wheeler dealer, a joker and a schmoozer; generous, industrious, devious and hilarious. Later he got a badge directing PR for the FDNY, he worked for the governor, he got in some kind of hot water for some auxiliary police dealings, and he worked at various station around the city.
Around 15 years ago, there was talk Harry needed a heart transplant. His heart apparently healed. But something killed him recently. We hear the funeral in Yonkers was very sad. Harry was 55. He was one of the most unforgettable people we've ever met. And we remember him fondly.
Harry’s death is at the least the second this year among the legendary team at the old Channel 5 News on 67th Street in the 70s and 80s, before Rupert Murdoch took over (not to mention the death last week of Channel 5 announcer Tom Gregory, who first uttered the famed catchphrase at the top of the newscast: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”)
We learned only weeks ago that Mark Monsky died over the summer. He’d been fighting cancer for many years. After seeing a mention in a year-end death wrap-up in the Writers Guild magazine, we found some details on a friend’s blog. Harry Ryttenberg had written in to comment: “I had the pleasure of working for Mark for many years. Besides being my boss, he was a true and loyal friend and mentor. I will miss him greatly.”
Readers of Tabloid Baby know that we first met Monsky and joined the gang when he was news director and we worked with Harry on the assignment desk at Channel 5 News. Later, we moved on to WNBC. Not long after, Monsky became our boss there, too, and he brought Harry Ryttenberg along. Monsky and John Parsons Peditto created Hard Copy.
John Parsons Peditto, creator and executive producer of Court TV’s landmark Mugshots series, is still going strong, leading the way in hard boiled, hard edged documentary films and programming.