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Aline Milton Bernstein Saarinen becomes first woman to head overseas U.S. TV news bureau

April 13, 1971

Aline Milton Bernstein Saarinen became the first woman to head an overseas television news bureau when she became chief of the National Broadcasting Company's Paris bureau on April 13, 1971.

Although Saarinen, the wife of famed architect Eero Saarinen, made headlines with her appointment as NBC's Paris bureau chief, most of her career was spent as an art critic. After earning degrees at Vassar College and New York University, she became the managing editor of Art News. In 1947, she joined the New York Times, where she served as associate art editor and then associate art critic until 1959. In 1958, Saarinen wrote The Proud Possessors, a book about American art collectors. The book became a best-seller.

Saarinen's television career began in 1962, when she was interviewed about a Rembrandt painting on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two years later, she was named an NBC correspondent. Her informal and gregarious style brought art criticism into American homes on a regular basis for the first time.

Just 15 months after taking charge of NBC's Paris bureau, Saarinen died of a brain tumor at age 58. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, one of the art collectors profiled in her 1958 book, memorialized Saarinen as "one of the world's ablest critics," who had left behind "a glorious legacy" of bringing art criticism to a wide public.

To learn more about Aline Saarinen, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Sources: New York Times, April 14, 1971; July 15, 1972; Sept. 15, 1972.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Aline Milton Bernstein Saarinen becomes first woman to head overseas U.S. TV news bureau." (Viewed on April 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/apr/13/1971/aline-milton-bernstein-saarinem>.