Paula Zahn is an American television journalist, who made a name for himself as a news anchor for CNN, Fox News, ABS News and CBS News, and became even more famous for hosting the crime documentary series ‘On the Case with Paula Zahn’.
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Early life and family
Paula Ann Zahn was born on February 24, 1956 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Her father, Norm Zahn, was a sales executive for IBM (International Business Machines) Corporation, and her mother, Betty, was an artist and a teacher. She and her three siblings, Steve, Mark and Leslie, grew up in Canton, Ohio, and then moved to Naperville, Illinois. Because of her father’s work, they often had to move, and she even joked about it saying that IBM stood for “I’ve Been Moved.”
When she was in her teens, she said the family attended a service of a different faith every week in Chicago for about a year—that’s how they learned about the different faiths.
When she was 28 years old, her father was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma and three weeks later her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a difficult time for the family, especially when they learned that her mother’s sister, Annie, had multiple myeloma and Steve’s wife had stage III breast cancer. All this happened in a span of 14 months. Her parents lived in Chicago at the time, and she had to commute from Boston or Los Angeles for work, and home to care for her parents when she wasn’t working.
Paula accompanied her mother when she had a mastectomy, but her father died after a four-year battle with cancer. In 1991, her mother was found to have a tumor in her other breast during a routine mammogram, but eight years later she became cancer-free and able to spend time with her children and grandchildren.
She graduated from Naperville Central High School in 1974, after transferring from Washington Junior High School also in Naperville. With a cello scholarship, Paula earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1978 from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.
Hair first reporting task was an intern at CBS owned and operated WBBM-TV virtual channel 2 in Chicago.
Over the next ten years, she worked at several local stations across the country, including KMFB-TV in San Diego, California; KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas; and WNEV-TV (now WHDH-TV) in Boston, Massachusetts.
She started working at ABC News in 1987 as an anchor for “The Health Show” on the weekends and then as a co-anchor for “World News This Morning.” She also replaced Joan Lunden on “Good Morning America”, doing news segments for the show.
Paula was offered a job with CBS News in February 1990, co-anchor with Harry Smith on “CBS Good Morning,” and went on to cover several events, including the 1992 Winter Olympics in France with Tim McCarver and in Norway ( 1994).
She also brought news of the Waco Siege, initiated by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) that lasted 51 days in 1993 and ended in the deaths of 76 members of the religious sect, Branch Davidians, including its leader, David Koresh, 25. children and two pregnant women. In 1996, Paula became the anchor of the Saturday edition of “CBS Evening News”. Her stint at CBS News lasted nearly ten years.
She moved to Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999, anchoring the evening newscast, “Fox Report” and launching her news program, “The Edge with Paula Zahn” in a primetime slot.
Zahn joined CNN on September 11, 2001, the same day the terrorist attacks on the United States by the Islamist terror group al-Qaeda took place, and continued to report on the events on the ground, questioning survivors, rescuers and government officials.
It became the deadliest terrorist attack in US history, as it claimed nearly 3,000 lives, including more than 300 firefighters and nearly 100 law enforcement officers, injured more than 25,000 people, and caused $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage. The next day, she anchored the new TV news program, “American Morning,” with Anderson Cooper and Jack Cafferty months ahead of schedule as they continued coverage of the 9/11 attacks.
In 2003, she hosted the two-hour program “Behind the Headlines” and provided ongoing coverage of the Iraq War, in which the US-led coalition invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Anderson Cooper took over the first hour, and in September she launched her own evening show, “Paula Zahn Now,” on primetime. The last broadcast was in August 2007, the cancellation is said to be due to poor ratings.
She said that for the show’s timeslot, viewers were drawn to opinion-driven shows and that was clearly not what she does. Her resignation from the network was announced in July 2007. Paula’s contract expired at the end of the year, and she said it was the right time for her and CNN to continue on different paths. She said she planned to take a break before moving on to another job.
In November 2008, she co-hosted ‘Sunday Arts’, a show that featured the New York City art scene, on WNET channel 13 and WLIW channel 21. She also hosted an episode of the anthology series ‘Great Performances’ titled: ‘From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration” in 2011.
“On the case with Paula Zahn”
This is a documentary series of true crime and mystery stories, first broadcast on October 18, 2009 on the investigative channel Investigation Discovery.
Paula hosted the show and traveled across the country interviewing people who were involved in and directly influenced by the things she spoke. It’s now on his 20e season, with nearly 300 episodes broadcast. She is also one of the executive producers of the show.
Paula won her first Emmy for investigative reporting while working at KFMB-TV, and her second Emmy for covering the collision between an Aeromexico jet and a private jet while at KCBS-TV; she has a total of nine Emmys.
She has won six Gracie Awards, one of which was for her exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden’s sister, Carmen bin Laden, in “Paula Zahn Now.” She received two National Headliner Awards for coverage of Hurricane Rita and the Jet Blue incident, as well as for the “Fall of Saddam.”
Zahn received an Albert Einstein College of Medicine Spirit Achievement Award and was recognized by other organizations or institutions for her contributions to cancer awareness and cancer prevention.
Paula met real estate developer, Richard Cohen, in Boston in the early 1980s while working at what was then WNEV-TV, and he was the founder and president of Capital Properties in Boston. It was not revealed when they started dating, or how long they were together before they tied the knot in 1987. She gave birth to their daughter Haley in 1990, followed by Jared Brandon in 1994. and Austin Bryce in 1997. Richard is Jewish and the children were raised in his faith.
After 20 years of marriage, they decided to call it quits – news of the couple’s breakup came out in April 2007, followed by scandalous speculation about the reason behind it. It was alleged that Paula was having an extramarital affair with a married man named Paul Fribourg, the CEO of the Conti Group, who was also the couple’s boyfriend and with whom Richard played golf and tennis. It is rumored that the affair was discovered by Richard when reading Paula’s graphic diary which was described as “shocking and lurid.”
What happened in the months that followed became tabloid fodder as each camp made statements about what really happened and who is responsible. She filed a lawsuit against Richard, who she said served as her finance manager for the 20 years of their marriage, for the way he had managed her finances, but it was dismissed by the court.
— PEOPLE PR & Comms (@PEOPLE_Comms) October 24, 2018
Paula is now 64 years old and busy with her work.
Interesting facts and rumors
- She started playing the cello at the age of six and has come a long way since then. In May 1992, Paula played the cello with the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
- She competed in the Miss Teenage America Pageant 1973, representing Aurora, Illinois, and reached the semifinals.
- Richard and Paula argued over the removal of the red-tailed hawk Pale Male from their Manhattan co-op building in 2004; Richard, the chairman of the cooperative’s board, was in favor, but Paula was not.
- Paula is very active in many cancer advocacy organizations and uses her positions to raise awareness about cancer as she would cover stories and issues about cancer.
She is 1.67 m tall and weighs 58 kg. She has blond hair and green eyes.
Paula has an estimated net value of $18 million as of June 2020, according to sources.
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