Jeannie Morris, Trailblazing Chicago Sportscaster, Dies at 85
The marriage ended in divorce, and in 1960 she married Johnny Morris, a broad recipient for the Chicago Bears whom she had also met on the Santa Barbara campus.
Ms. Morris’ first sports break came after her husband retired from the bears in 1967 and became a local sports caster. When the American newspaper Chicago asked him if he would write a column, he declined, but said his wife was a writer and should be hired.
She got the job, but her byline didn’t reflect her name. Rather, one follows the social norms of the time: “Mrs. Johnny Morris ”wrote a weekly column entitled“ Soccer is a game for women ”that appeared on the women’s pages of the paper before joining the sports division of The American and later of The Chicago Daily News. Eventually her line changed to Jeannie Morris.
As the wife of a bear, she had a lot of material to write about.
“It was because I lived 10 years of a football life that most people haven’t seen,” she told The Athletic in her last interview, just before she died. “There was a subculture. There were good stories in the subculture. “
In 1969 Ms. Morris moved to Mr. Morris at Chicago TV station WMAQ, where she started out as a popular local media couple for a long time. The station marketed her early on as a soft news reporter. An advertisement in The Chicago Tribune in 1970 promoted the “Woman’s View of the Sports World,” through which viewers could meet “The Sports Leaders, Their Families and Friends.”
She would soon prove herself as a field reporter covering and producing news and features related to Chicago sports.
“She was my # 1 reporter,” Morris said in a telephone interview. “I often had to give her tough tasks, but I knew she’d made it.” He added, “She was competitive – as competitive as I am – and we made a good team.”