Ruth Ashton Taylor, Historic Los Angeles Anchor, Has Died

 Ruth Ashton Taylor on KNXT Los Angeles in 1951.
Ruth Ashton Taylor on KNXT Los Angeles in 1951.
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Ruth Ashton Taylor, who was believed to be the first female newscaster in Los Angeles, died January 11 at an assisted living facility in San Rafael, California. She was 101.

Ruth Montoya was born in 1922 in Long Beach, California. Her father left the family in 1926 and Ruth took her mother’s surname, Ashton.

She graduated from Scripps College in California with a degree in American history. She then earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s journalism school while working part-time at CBS, writing in the news division.

After graduating, Ashton began working at CBS as a correspondent. She also wrote for the program Feature Story. She was part of a 1947 documentary film called The Sunny Side of the Atom where she interviewed Albert Einstein after showing up, uninvited, at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.

Ashton left CBS in 1949 and returned home to Los Angeles, taking a PR job at KNX Radio, which turned into an on-air news position.

She was hired by KTSL Los Angeles in 1951, to give the women’s side of the news on a nightly half-hour newscast. KTSL became KNXT in 1951, then KCBS in 1984. 

She left a year later to produce and deliver a five-minute daily afternoon report on the radio. She also hosted The Ruth Ashton Show on KNX Radio.

In 1960, Taylor took a job as editor for special projects at the Claremont Colleges. After three years, she went back to radio.

In 1966, she was hired as anchor for KNXT’s Saturday afternoon newscast, which The New York Times said made her “the first woman known to hold that type of position in Los Angeles.” She did that for a year, then went back to reporting. She grew increasingly frustrated with how some viewers perceived women journalists working in television.

Taylor later worked part-time at KNXT, moderating the public affairs program Newsmakers.

She received a lifetime achievement award from the Television Academy in 1982 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990.

Taylor had worked with Connie Chung, who went on to anchor at ABC, NBC and CBS, at KNXT. Chung told the Times: “Everyone in Southern California knew that every woman who followed her was following in her footsteps. She paved the way for all of us.”