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Longtime TV journalist Clark Booth dies at 79

Clark Booth.Courtesy of WCVB Channel 5

Clark Booth, a veteran Boston journalist whose career spanned the golden age of print and television journalism, died Friday at the age of 79, according to his family and WCVB-TV, his former employer.

Booth’s career in news spanned more than a half-century, starting at The Patriot Ledger newspaper in Quincy in 1962. He worked at WCVB Channel 5 for 25 years, said Ro Dooley Webster, WCVB’s director of programming and communications, during a brief phone interview.

He had also worked at WBZ-TV for a decade-long stint, according to an obituary provided by Booth’s family. Booth retired from full-time work in 2000, but continued to work as a print columnist and as a writer and narrator for documentaries, according to his obituary.


Booth covered sports, politics, religion, and culture. During his career, he covered 10 presidential campaigns, two papal elections, 12 World Series, three Super Bowls, and 20 Stanley Cup playoffs. He covered the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Cuba under Fidel Castro, the obituary said.

Former colleagues on Friday remembered Booth as a reporter of uncommon range.

Mike Lynch, the principal sports anchor at Channel 5, called Booth “ . . . the Leonardo da Vinci of the journalistic world in the late 20th century.”

“One month we would be talking about the Pats and something and the next month about Fidel Castro and Cuba and the next month about the Bruins,” Lynch said in an interview.

Lynch recalled working on sports specials with Booth, such as the 1986 Mets-Sox World Series. “That was unique,” Lynch said. “He was something special and there will never be another Clark Booth in television. Ever.”

He wrote a weekly column on sports for The Pilot, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Boston, and The Dorchester Reporter, for 43 years, according to his obituary.


In a statement Friday, Pilot editor Antonio M. Enrique said Booth had written for the Pilot since 1975.

“His unique writing style and quick wit made him a perennial favorite with our readers. If he ever took a week off or was unable to send a column, we would invariably receive calls to the news desk demanding to know, “Where’s Booth!?”

ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann also remembered Booth fondly Friday. Olbermann said he worked at Channel 5 for six months in 1984, he said. Booth was a poet on deadline, said Olbermann, who marvelled at the wide breadth of Booth’s journalism. His ability to function in “worlds that didn’t really overlap” was impressive, said Olbermann.

“He literally could one day cover the State House, the next day he could be in Vatican city covering the pope, and the third day he’d be at Fenway excoriating Buddy LeRoux,” he said.

In 1986, during a television segment during the Red Sox-Angels playoff series, Olbermann asked Booth to explain New England’s relationship to the team.

He still recalls Booth’s response: “It’s simple: If the Red Sox win today, it is only because losing tomorrow will hurt more.”

“It’s not just right, it’s exactly right,” said Olbermann.

Bill Fine, WCVB president and general manager, said in a statement that the station was “profoundly saddened to learn of the death of Clark Booth.” Fine praised Booth’s work ethic and his “ability to cover a wide range of stories with expertise and his signature style.”


“Clark was an extraordinarily talented journalist and brilliant storyteller who set a gold standard for news reporting in Boston for over five decades,” said Fine.

Booth graduated from high school in Weymouth, and then attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. He lived in Reading for 30 years with his wife, Anne, before they moved to Florida in 1999, according to his obituary.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.