America’s sweetheart Diane Sawyer is probably best known for her roles on ABC’s World News and Good Morning America — so when she opted to leave that all behind, people were understandably upset to see her go. But the broadcast journalist was adamant that she was not slowing down or saying goodbye. Instead she was simply going “down the hall and up the stairs” at ABC while chasing a new dream — one that involved working “on some of the stories that take you into the real lives around us, the ones we rarely get to see.”
Since then, she’s remained relatively quiet while foraying into the world of investigative reporting and conducting highly coveted interviews with some of the world’s most famous people. Honestly, doesn’t sound like too rough of a transition, right?!
So, whatever happened to ABC’s golden girl? And why did she ultimately decide to move more out of the spotlight? Keep reading after the jump to find out!
Diane Sawyer lost her mother
Diane Sawyer lost her beloved mother, Jean Sawyer Hayes, in 2014. As reported by the Courier-Journal, Hayes sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 94 years old in her home state of Kentucky. Per her obituary, Diane’s mother worked tirelessly for many years as an elementary school teacher and also served as a civic leader.
Even Sawyer recounted how her famous-in-a-small-town mother was often-times stopped on the street by former students to confess how her time with them left a lasting impact. “Her students by the hundreds were jolted into the possibilities of their lives,” she recalled. “She was a pioneering spirit.”
And during a phone interview shortly after her mother’s passing, Sawyer managed to offer up a few stoic words about her mother. According to the famous journalist, her mother was “a force of nature, optimistic, spunky and energetic.” There’s no doubt that the loss of her mother was a devastating and tremendous loss for Sawyer and likely something that still impacts her to this day.
… And then Diane Sawyer lost her husband
While the loss of a parent is incredibly painful, perhaps the only thing worse would be to lose a spouse merely one month later. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to long time ABC journalist, Diane Sawyer. Sawyer and her husband, Mike Nichols, cherished 26 long and wonderful years together before he passed away at age 83. Per NPR, Nichols’ passing was due to a heart attack.
And while his wife was a famous journalist — make no mistake, Nichols was famous in his own right, too. Before his passing, Nichols earned many credits in show business including the titles of director and producer for many films and plays including The Odd Couple on Broadway, The Graduate on film, and Angels in America on TV. Pretty impressive! And it appears, Nichols was working right up until the day of his death, in the midst of adapting the play Master Class to an HBO series, starring the one and only award-winning actress, Meryl Streep.
But even while accomplishing so much professionally, it appears Nichols was careful to always make time for romance. During a 2014 interview with Ladies Home Journal (via Us Weekly), Sawyer gushed about how thoughtful her husband was. “He puts little notes in my sock drawer or in my suitcase before I leave for a work trip. I think one of the most romantic things is simply the way he reaches for my hand all the time,” Sawyer revealed. Aww! We’re not crying… you’re crying!!!
'World News' didn't skip a beat after Diane Sawyer's exit
How does that saying go? “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” When Diane Sawyer left ABC’s World News, she may have learned that lesson the hard way.
While there’s no denying that she left a lasting impact at World News, her replacement David Muir flourished in his new role, and the show did as well. As reported by the New York Post, only months into the job, Muir helped the show win the fourth quarter in the adults 25-54 demographic for the first time in seven — yes, seven — years over its arch-rival, NBC’s Nightly News.
And while some may have perceived that as a slap in the face to Sawyer, others cited Muir’s physical appearance for the possible boost in ratings. After all, there is a reason that, according to Parade, he was referred to as the “Brad Pitt of news anchors.”
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