Whatever Happened To Charlie Gibson? – Nicki Swift
Charlie Gibson is a broadcasting legend. The Emmy-winning newscaster was a man about town at ABC News, having anchored Good Morning America, as well as the network’s evening broadcasts, like 20/20, Primetime, Nightline, and other specials. Gibson started as a reporter with ABC News back in 1975 and worked his way to the top, being named co-host of GMA in 1987. After more than 35 years in the business, Gibson retired in December 2009, leaving behind his final job at ABC News: the anchor of World News Tonight.
Also left behind was Gibson’s legacy of grace and generosity. As his former GMA co-host, Robin Roberts, once told The New Yorker, “Everyone loves Charlie Gibson.” During his April 2017 guest appearance on the show, Roberts commented on the GMA patriarch’s way with fans, saying, “This man would stay downstairs [with fans before the show] and would take a picture with everyone.” But does Gibson miss his time on television? It doesn’t seem so. Addressing his schedule as a morning show anchor, Gibson revealed that he awakened every morning at 3:21 a.m. during his GMA tenure. Noting that he was frequently asked, “Aren’t you tired when you do the show?” Gibson’s answer was a resounding, “Yes!” But he later added, “To be able to say good morning to the entire country is a rare treat.”
We took a look into what the former newscaster has been doing during retirement, and Charlie Gibson has remained quite a busy man!
Charlie Gibson loves to sail the seas
While cruising is a common method of travel for seniors, it is not common for many seniors to cruise the way Charlie Gibson does! In 2020, the retired news anchor told The Boston Globe that the Regent line, known for its luxurious accommodations and high price tag, is his and wife Arlene Gibson’s favorite.
Charlie noted the sticker shock of traveling luxe, but he feels “the memories [made] are worth every penny” of the cost of the journey, and quipped, “For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” The retiree said he and his wife appreciate “how lucky we are to be traveling in the first place.” He added, “I cherish the sea days just sitting on a balcony looking at the water. I feel totally at peace.”
Who wouldn’t want to take a giant, luxury ship across the globe? You unpack once, see the world through ports of call, and all of your food and beverage is provided. Just…don’t go during a global pandemic.
Charlie Gibson splits his time between his Manhattan and Cape Cod homes
From sailing the high sees in style to watching the tide roll by, Charlie Gibson seems to have a great affinity for coastal life. Maybe it has something to do with his briefly-held former profession: Next TV reports Gibson did a “short stint in the Coast Guard” prior to his newscasting days. The former anchorman told The Boston Globe that he enjoys the “very simple, peaceful, and slow-paced” Cape Cod lifestyle. So, Gibson and his wife, Arlene, tend to split their time between Manhattan and their vacation home in North Falmouth, Mass., which they purchased in 1991.
The Gibsons also previously spent time at their ellipse-shaped 8,507-square-foot ski chalet in Park City, Utah, with tall glass walls and expansive outdoor living space, but Realtor.com reports they put it on the market in 2018 for $9.4 million. The listing for the property described the winter vacation home, which was custom-built for the Gibson family in 1995, as “the happiest place on earth.” There is no word on whether the property sold for its asking price, but we’re sure the breathtaking vistas are worth every penny the buyer spent!
Charlie Gibson has made several guest appearances on Good Morning America
Once a member of the GMA family, always a member of the GMA family. Since retiring over a decade ago, Charlie Gibson has returned for several guest appearances on the morning show he once anchored. During his April 2017 GMA visit, for example, Gibson briefly reunited with former co-host Robin Roberts, as well as co-hosts Michael Strahan, George Stephanopoulos, and Lara Spencer.
At first, Gibson was seated in the audience, and it took some coaxing to get him on stage. After a short back and forth with Roberts, Gibson was compelled to join the GMA team at the table when the studio audience began chanting, “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” While they did take Charlie on a short “walk down memory lane” with a montage of clips from his time at GMA, the reason for Gibson’s visit was, of all things, a recipe he had created that rose to No. 1 on the GMA website. Gibson quipped, “It is so reassuring to know that my legacy on this show is a taco casserole.”
Of course, Gibson’s returns to GMA aren’t too surprising, considering he had this to say during a Lincoln Center celebration of his 35-year career in 2009 (via ABC News): “I lucked into the best team game outside of sports. You can’t forget how important it is what we do … I have loved every damn day of it.”
Charlie Gibson has been spending time with his family
If Charlie Gibson’s favorite GMA guest is any indication, he was born to be a father and grandfather. During his April 2017 GMA appearance, he said, “When I left, they asked me, ‘Of all the guests that you’ve had on the program … who would you like have [back]?” Gibson’s response? “Kermit the Frog.”
However, the retiree’s one complaint about life is that his daughters, Jessica and Kate, as well as his grandchildren, are scattered across the country in Seattle and Minneapolis. So, when Robin Roberts asked Gibson how life was going in his retirement, he said, “Life is terrific! … Four grandchildren, now,” before adding, “They’re too darned far away! … But they’re wonderful.” (Cue a chorus of awws.)
But it turns out Gibson prioritizing family time isn’t anything new. During his 2009 retirement celebration, youngest daughter Kate said (via ABC News), “I am very proud of my father, and not just for what he has accomplished with his work, which we celebrate tonight. I am proud of my father the good listener, my father the people person, my father the hard worker, and my father who is filled with both humility and courage.” She sweetly added, “If he had just a few of those traits he would be a good man, but he has all of them and he is a great man.”
Charlie Gibson isn't hurting for cash
When Charlie Gibson retired, ABC News President David Westin wrote in an email to the press (via Politico), “We owe him much for the leadership he gave us when we needed it most.” Indeed, from Congressional reporter to hosting primetime specials to anchoring Good Morning America and World News Tonight, Gibson was a fixture at ABC News in a variety of roles for decades.
Whenever the network needed rescuing, Gibson was there. As his former GMA co-host, Joan Lunden, revealed on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, she and Gibson were both pushed out of the program in the late ’90s due to ageism: “They replaced both of us with … a 30-year-old version of each of us, and it didn’t work.” The New York Times reported that ratings plummeted with new hosts Kevin Newman and Lisa McRee, so ABC News brought Gibson back alongside new co-host Diane Sawyer. These two also swooped to the rescue in 2006 to take turns anchoring the evening news when former World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff was injured by a roadside bomb while on location in Iraq, leaving the program anchorless. Gibson was ultimately named Woodruff’s permanent replacement, and Sawyer fittingly succeeded Gibson when he retired.
It’s no wonder, then, why Gibson was very well compensated for his efforts. According to Celebrity Net Worth, his GMA salary rose to as high as $7 million per year, and as of this writing, he has an estimated net worth of $50 million.
Charlie Gibson has gone on several African safaris
Another frequent travel destination for Charlie Gibson is perhaps not quite as cushy as a cruise. While speaking with The Boston Globe in 2020, he revealed that he and wife Arlene “have fallen in love with sub-Saharan Africa and have been on safari four times in three countries in the last six years.” Ah, the wildlife they must have seen during those adventures!
A funny story: one of Gibson’s first wildlife segments on GMA was, um, memorable. As zoologist Jack Hanna tells it in his memoir (via ABC News), “About thirty seconds before our cue to go on … I handed Charlie the fox, and it bit him hard on the index finger.” Gibson, of course, was a total pro, wrapping his finger with a handkerchief before continuing with the interview as if nothing had happened.
Gibson clearly developed an affinity for Africa a long time ago, though. During an August 2015 Q&A session at Harvard University, he said, “If you showed people a map of Africa, I’ll bet you not one out of 100 people could tell you what country is Uganda on that map. It’s shameful in many respects. It’s also a reflection of the fact that when Americans study geography in schools, they study geography of areas that are white. And Africa sort of gets lumped together.” He added, “News from that continent is probably less reported, I guess, than any other continent in the world. And it’s just — I don’t know how to excuse it.”
Charlie Gibson played himself on an episode of House of Cards
Charlie Gibson got a look at the entertainment industry from a new perspective in 2016: as an actor. Yup, Netflix binge-watchers may recall the time Gibson played a version of himself in an episode of House of Cards, “Chapter 43” (Season 4, Episode 4). While it wasn’t a stretch for the former news anchor to play, well, a news anchor, we’re sure the experience was a treat.
In the episode, President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) had just been shot. The New York Times‘ episode recap supposed that Gibson’s line, “This is a difficult moment for the country. It is not the first time that a president has been shot, in my lifetime or in many of yours,” referenced John Hinkley’s 1981 attempt to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan, whose presidency Gibson covered in real life for ABC News.
But who could have foreseen that, almost exactly one year after the episode aired, Spacey would be fired from House of Cards following multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault? According to Vanity Fair, Spacey’s Underwood would be killed off the show, a decision that lost Netflix $39 million. Still, even in retirement, Gibson found himself news-adjacent on House of Cards.
Charlie Gibson's knowledge and commentary is still in demand
Speaking of Ronald Reagan (yes, that segue totally did just happen), Charlie Gibson appeared in a 2016 episode of The Eighties docuseries, entitled “The Reagan Revolution,” to discuss Reagan’s cultural and political impact on American society. However, this is far from the only documentary to which Gibson has contributed since retiring. In 2018, he appeared in the TV documentary, Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey, which detailed Graham’s rise to fame as a religious leader from his modest roots as the son of a dairy farmer. Gibson also took part in Trump A.C./D.C., a 2020 archival documentary short about Donald Trump’s shady casino businesses in Atlantic City, per the AV Club.
Gibson is a speaker for hire, as well. Speaker.com touts his availability for all sorts of public speaking engagements, though his fee is not publicly disclosed. A video of Gibson speaking about homelessness, and another featuring a Princeton University commencement speech, are posted in his profile. In addition to in-person gigs, Gibson is all about helming pandemic-friendly virtual events. Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, for example, he hosted the Kennedy Center’s “Political Polling: History and Trends” forum (via The Boston Globe).
However, Gibson lending his newscaster expertise to various mediums isn’t totally surprising. As he said during a conversation at the JFK Library in 2018, “We are in a totally revolutionary time in what journalism is … We need serious journalism now more than ever. But the traditional means by which news is delivered is changing.”
Charlie Gibson has been doing a lot of reading in retirement
In 2015, Charlie Gibson appeared on Good Morning America‘s 40th reunion special and admitted to being terribly nervous when he first started anchoring the show. “I was scared to death,” he said. “I remember, you get the homework, you get the packets, and I was reading those [research] packets, every word, until about 1 o’clock in the morning.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Gibson has always been a voracious reader, and was even invited to share his 2009 summer reading list on CSPAN2’s Book TV. When The Boston Globe asked Gibson what he won’t leave home without as he travels in 2020, he said — after his passport and wife, of course — his Kindle. “That invention has changed the entire experience of reading while traveling,” the retired newscaster revealed.
Thankfully, reading for pleasure is far less stressful than prepping for interviews, and after the long and successful news career Gibson has had, escaping into a good book on the deck of a cruise ship seems like the perfect way to spend his autumn years.
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