Ruth Ashton Taylorwho was the only woman in CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow’s postwar radio documentary unit and was widely believed to be the first female news anchor in Los Angeles, died on January 11 in San Rafael, California. She was 101 years old.

His daughter Laurel Conklin confirmed the death at an assisted living facility.

“Ruth showed what women could do,” Liz Mitchell, who worked with Taylor as a production assistant and writer at KNXT-TV in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview. She “could cover small and large events, all with different themes, and nothing stopped her.”

As one of the few women in television news in the 1940s and 1950s, Ms. Taylor had to contend with institutional biases about what she should cover and how her reports should sound and look.

At CBS, Ms. Taylor learned that women were not allowed to be heard on the air because their voices were too “squeaky,” she once said.

In Los Angeles in 1951, she was hired by KTSL-TV (later called KNXT and KCBS) to cover the women’s side of the news on a half-hour late-night show.

Shortly after her television assignment began, she auditioned at KNX Radio to produce and present a daily five-minute afternoon report from what was billed as “the women’s news newsroom.”

“It was such a novelty that everyone thought it was a real rarity.” he told a Washington Press Club Foundation interviewer in 1992. “’Hey, look at the monkey’s performance! We’ve never seen one like this before.’”

Topics he reported on included automobiles, airplanes and fashion.

“Taylor says she always approached her stories the way she wanted,” wrote Suzanne Haibach Marteney in your master’s thesis about Ms. Taylor for California State University, Northridge, in 1986. “She justified her attitude by saying that she must be giving the woman’s opinion because it was her opinion and she was, of course, a woman.”

Ms. Taylor left KTSL (now renamed KNXT) around 1952, but provided her women’s radio reports for several more years while also hosting “The Ruth Ashton Show,” a half-hour news and features program, also in KNX. She resigned in 1959 after a confrontation with management when she refused to cover events such as department store openings, she told Marteney.

She left journalism temporarily in 1960, when she accepted a job as a special projects editor at Claremont Colleges. After three years, she returned to radio.

Ruth Arlene Montoya was born on April 20, 1922 in Long Beach, California. Her mother, Flora Ashton, sold baked goods in Nebraska and later opened Sis Ashton’s Cafe in Signal Hill, California, in honor of her husband, Julian Montoya, who worked for a bank and left the family when Ruth was 4. years. She soon took the surname Ashton.

Ruth graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, California with a degree in American History. In 1944, she earned a master’s degree from the Columbia School of Journalism while writing news part-time for CBS.

After graduating, CBS hired her full-time and she worked for correspondent Robert Trout and wrote for the show “Feature Story.” Murrow encouraged her to find a subject that fascinated her for a documentary and she chose atomic science.

Her travels as a reporter for “The Sunny Side of the Atom” took her to numerous places, including Princeton, New Jersey, where Albert Einstein, who had ignored her letters requesting an interview, lived and worked.

A cooperative taxi driver took her to Einstein’s house, where he was walking nearby. She got out of the car and approached him.

“I said, ‘Good morning, Dr. Einstein,’” she recalled when interviewed by the Washington Press Club Foundation. “’I’m Ruth Ashton.’”

“Ah!” she said she: “The broadcasting lady.”

He agreed to an interview (although she did not record it) and they talked “about things that meant a lot to me, what the future of the world is or not.”

The documentary was produced by CBS as a nonfiction drama in 1947, with actors playing various roles. Agnes Moorehead played Mrs. Ashton.

In his review for The New York Times, RW Stewart called it “an eloquent call for a broader popular understanding of an obviously vital issue.”

Mrs. Taylor remained at CBS until 1949. Eager to return home to Los Angeles, she accepted a public relations job at KNX, which later became the on-air news position.

After her time at Claremont Colleges, Ms. Taylor returned to KNX in 1963. She hosted an infotainment program with comic actor Pat Buttram, a future cast member of the sitcom “Green Acres,” and reported for a evening news and feature films. , “Argument”.

In 1966, she was hired as an anchor for the Saturday afternoon television news on KNXT, making her the first known woman to hold that type of position in Los Angeles.

“Everyone came out of their cubicles to watch it,” said Mitchell, who recalled watching the first broadcast in the newsroom. “The reaction wasn’t ‘Oh my God, why is a woman presenting the news?’ but ‘Wow, a woman.'”

But many calls that came into the station after that first broadcast were about her hair.

“Here was a woman who had just done something monumental and this was all she had to say,” Jess Marlow, a local anchor, told The Sacramento Bee in 1990. “She was just despondent.”

After about a year as a presenter, she focused on journalism, but still had to deal with outdated attitudes towards women in journalism.

“Ruth Ashton Proves Girls Can Succeed in News,” read the headline of an article about her in The Valley News of Van Nuys, California, in 1968.

Joe Saltzman, former KNXT senior producer, said by phone: “If they sent a man to cover a criminal trial, they would send her to talk to his grieving girlfriend. She said: “I want to be treated like any other journalist.” I’m going to cover fires and bank robberies. And he finally won that battle.”

He covered political conventions, the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, California state politics, floods, school board meetings and entertainment.

KNXT host Connie Chung said by phone that while Ms. Taylor was not well known nationally, “everyone in Southern California knew that every woman who followed her was following in her footsteps. “She paved the way for all of us.”

Ms. Chung added that after becoming co-anchor of “CBS Evening News,” with Dan Rather, in 1993, “Ruth wrote me letters when the old goats at CBS were giving me a hard time in New York, which was threw on them and encouraged me.”

Ms. Taylor retired in 1989, but freelanced for several more years as a political reporter and moderator of the station’s “Meet the Press-like” program “Newsmakers.”

In addition to her daughter, Laurel Conklin, Ms. Taylor is survived by another daughter, Susan Conklin; a stepson, John Taylor; a grandson and a great-grandson. Her marriages to Ed Conklin, a news editor, and Jack Taylor, a cameraman, ended in divorce.

Ms. Taylor received the Television Academy’s lifetime achievement award in 1982 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990.

“Mom, I finally made my mark,” she said at the ceremony. “It’s right here on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in cement.”