Who Was Kathleen Sullivan?

If you’re watching the news in the 1980s to 1990s, you have probably seen Kathleen Sullivan. She’s an anchorwoman who worked at CNN, ABC News, and CBS News. But after she was fired from CBS, she laid low, and the nation did not see her again as a journalist after her last media gig as a newscaster for KFWB radio Los Angeles.


Kathleen Sullivan was the first female anchored hired by CNN in 1980. In her career as a journalist, she has been involved in nearly every area of broadcasting. She worked with big media companies such as CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

She started her career on local television until she became the first female anchor on CNN. She was also the first American woman to report live from the Soviet Union when she interviewed Russian cosmonauts for the Soviet Pre-Olympic festival.

In 1982, Sullivan moved to ABC News at ABC World News This Morning with co-anchor Steve Bell. She also substituted for co-host Joan Lunden on Good Morning America and anchored ABC World News Saturday. And while at ABC, she created the first network health show and became the host of two syndicated health shows during the ‘80s.

Sullivan reported live from summit meetings, political conventions, state funerals, and the Olympic Games. She became the first woman to anchor a telecast of the Olympic Games in 1984. She became an in-studio anchor for the ABC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. She also reported live from Buckingham Palace in London for the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

In 1987, Sullivan moved to CBS News Network to become a co-anchor of Harry Smith in CBS This Morning. She worked as an anchor of the program from November 1987 to February 1990. During her employment at CBS, she was the only American journalist invited by President Ronald Reagan to a 1987 White House State dinner that celebrated the end of the Cold War and honored Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1989, she earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Breaking News Event during Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina.

Sullivan was eventually fired amid rumors that she was temperamental and difficult to work with. On her firing, Sullivan stated, “They called me old, unattractive,” and that no one wants to look at her anymore. Sullivan was disappointed at her being fired, but she was proud of her contributions to the show.

In 1992, Sullivan anchored the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, for NBC’s pay-per-view Olympics Triplecast.

During the late ‘90s, Sullivan transitioned to radio to do weekly commentaries for ABC News. She also worked in Los Angeles as a talk show host for KABC and an anchor for the all-news station KFWB.

After her last television appearance, Sullivan returned in a series of commercials for Weight Watchers. It featured Sullivan, who was slightly heavier, watching her younger and slimmer version of herself. Some media types and reporters suddenly interviewed the formerly forgotten Sullivan. Everyone was asking if it’s humiliating to go from being a big network anchor to a diet shill and if she will ever go back to network television. As it turns out, she did not go back to being an anchor or journalist and lived a quiet life.


Sullivan is a National Advisory Board member of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to which she was appointed by the White House in 2003. She actively worked to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.