Shelby Scott, Broadcaster and Former AFTRA President, Dies at 86

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Shelby Scott, broadcaster and former president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has died. She was 86.

SAG-AFTRA announced Scott’s passing on Sunday. No cause of death was provided.

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“In front of the camera, Shelby Scott’s career spanned decades and broke barriers,” read a statement from the organization’s national executive director, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “But it is for her work off camera as a dedicated union leader that we at SAG-AFTRA will always be most grateful. As AFTRA national president for eight years, and a board member for many more, as a trustee on the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, and through her foresight in working to merge SAG and AFTRA, Shelby’s legacy is profound and she will be deeply missed.”

Scott was born in Washington State in 1936 and began her career at KIRO-TV and radio in Seattle, where she worked as traffic manager and later became an on-air reporter, writer, film editor and documentary producer. Scott joined Boston CBS affiliate WBZ in 1965 as a general assignment reporter and news anchor. Among Scott’s roles, she co-anchored the station’s Channel 4 News at Noon for fourteen years and its 5:30 News program for 5 years.

Accolades received during Scott’s broadcasting career included the United Press International’s Tom Phillips Citation for Excellence in Broadcasting and the William F. Horner Jr. award from Suffolk University for Excellence in Journalism. In 2008, she was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcast Hall of Fame.

She was elected to the board of AFTRA in 1981, and in 1993 she became national president of the union. During her term, then-President Bill Clinton appointed Scott to the advisory committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters. Scott was also awarded AFTRA’s George Heller Gold Card for her service.

After leaving her post in 2001, Scott remained as a board member and served in multiple capacities, including serving as union co-chair to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds Board of Trustees and as president of the AFTRA Foundation. Scott was a member of the Group for One Union of SAG and AFTRA leaders, who spearheaded the merger effort in 2012.

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