Legendary WFAA newsman Bert Shipp dies at 85

DALLAS -- Bert Shipp, the legendary assignments editor and photographer at WFAA-TV and father to News 8's Brett Shipp, lost his battle with failing health and died Monday night. He was 85.

Most people got their first look at Bert on Dallas' darkest day, when as a young cameraman he appeared on live television in November 1963 and breathlessly reported on the death of John F. Kennedy.

Whether covering the Kennedy assassination or marshaling a newsroom, Bert Shipp defined television news in North Texas for decades.


He shot film, reported stories and used wit and personality to get into places other reporters couldn't – like the Beatles dressing room when they visited Dallas in 1964.

For 38 years, Bert Shipp was the backbone of News 8. He had his own language.

"Bert, being the unique character he was, would call all the males 'hosses' and he would call the females on the staff 'fillies,'" said former WFAA reporter Brad Watson. "That was just an affectionate term and everybody took it."

Bert had his own way of getting the best out of everyone. Good reporters would get a star next to their name on the assignment board.

"If you could get a star from Bert Shipp, that meant you did a good job," said John Gudjohnsen, former News 8 photographer.

Bert earned his accolades covering the Kennedy assassination. After confirming the President's death at Parkland, he then commandeered a car to get himself and his rolls of film back downtown.

"He jumped in and said 'We're going to Channel 8,' and the guy said, 'I ain't going to Channel 8,' and (Bert) says, 'Oh yeah you are!'" recalled John Sparks, a former News 8 producer.

Back in the studio Shipp described what he'd seen on live television.

He wrote down many of his memories in his book "Details at 10: Behind the Headlines of Texas Television History."

On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death two years ago, Bert remembered the assassination to his son Brett, who carries on his father's tradition as a reporter at Channel 8 news.

Neither Shipp will ever be forgotten here.

Bert, though, was a special hoss.


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