Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Harry Ryttenberg died

We just got word that Harry Ryttenberg died.

Harry was one of the great characters of the New York City news business, and he was in the business since he was a kid. His mother ran the newsstand outside the New York Daily News building, and he made the paper when he was a kid, rescuing a cop from a subway attack by grabbing his police radio and screaming “10-13! Officer down!”  Later he wangled a job as a copy boy for the News, but Harry always really wanted to be a cop-- which is why you see him dressed as a cop above. Harry worked with the cops, he worked around them and he got a badge and a uniform, but he'll be remembered as a New York City TV journo.

In 1979, he launched the independent Broadcast News Service, the late night prowlers who roamed the city with police radios and video cameras and responded to bloody crimes and accidents, shot the footage and sold it to the local TV stations who worked by day. Mark Monsky and John Parsons brought Harry to the WNEW-TV 10 O’Clock News team in the early eighties, where he worked as assignment editor. He always had wad of bills, a handgun in an ankle holster, police radios on his belt and a big dark sedan with lights and sirens. Harry was a wheeler dealer, a joker and a schmoozer; generous, industrious, devious and hilarious. Later he got a badge directing PR for the FDNY, he worked for the governor, he got in some kind of hot water for some auxiliary police dealings, and he worked at various station around the city.

Around 15 years ago, there was talk Harry needed a heart transplant. His heart apparently healed. But something killed him recently. We hear the funeral in Yonkers was very sad. Harry was 55. He was one of the most unforgettable people we've ever met. And we remember him fondly.


Harry’s death is at the least the second this year among the legendary team at the old Channel 5 News on 67th Street in the 70s and 80s, before Rupert Murdoch took over (not to mention the death last week of Channel 5 announcer Tom Gregory, who first uttered the famed catchphrase at the top of the newscast: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”)

We learned only weeks ago that Mark Monsky died over the summer. He’d been fighting cancer for many years. After seeing a mention in a year-end death wrap-up in the Writers Guild magazine, we found some details on a friend’s blog. Harry Ryttenberg had written in to comment: “I had the pleasure of working for Mark for many years. Besides being my boss, he was a true and loyal friend and mentor. I will miss him greatly.”

Readers of Tabloid Baby know that we first met Monsky and joined the gang when he was news director and we worked with Harry on the assignment desk at Channel 5 News. Later, we moved on to WNBC. Not long after, Monsky became our boss there, too, and he brought Harry Ryttenberg along. Monsky and John Parsons Peditto created Hard Copy.

John Parsons Peditto, creator and executive producer of Court TV’s landmark Mugshots series, is still going strong, leading the way in hard boiled, hard edged documentary films and programming.


Frank Grimes said...

Harry and Mark, two classic New York characters. Channel five collected them. Great job, John Parsons.

Anonymous said...


From: Sancho, Robert (NBC Universal, WNBC)
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2006 1:56 PM
To: Dembo, Robert (NBC Universal)
Cc: Ullio, Helen (NBC Universal)

1652 CENTRAL PARK AVE Yonkers, NY 10710-4902




I received this email

"What I hear about HGR is sometime on Sunday he wasn't feeling well and drove himself to St. Johns Hosp. in Yonkers and about 5 AM on Monday he had a massive MI. I'm not sure what was doing in his life except that he was working as a dispatcher for an Amb. company in Queens..."

Anonymous said...

just to clarify HGR did not drive himself he was taken by ambulance to st. john where he went into cardiac arrest secondary to liver and kidney failure

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify where Harry was in life at the end, he was an ASSISTANT DIRECTOR for a NYC MTA Access-A-Ride provider.
He reached out to me a few years ago when he was teaching at one of the taxi academies in LIC. They had cut back on classes and he needed a full time gig. I was dispatching at Atlantic Paratrans (an AAR provider) at the time and brought him in there. Harry did his USUAL rapid climb up the old ladder and wound up as Ass't Dir at one of the new AAR providers that the MTA contarcted during 2006. He was living at home in Yonkers and sometimes when his ill health would dictate, he was staying with me at my home in Maspeth, Queens which was nearby to his job(s).
As referenced in one of the blog entries above, Harry's "hot water" that he got himself in caused many people to "shy away" from him. Me?...I reached out with open arms to help an old buddy with NO reservations. I have NO GUILT. I will miss him dearly.


Anonymous said...

I believe in giving those that die with honor the utmost resoect for peace by Harry is the whole reason why the Orange County NY Sherrifs department cannot do any charitable fundraising

This is the kind of legacy we will preserve for anyone who promotes corruption of leadership authority in America



May the worms have mercy on your flesh...

Hal Goldenberg said...

The anonymous (gee aren't you brave) comment above tipifies how quick some people are to put a noose around anothers neck. Elliot Spitzer went after Harry and managed to have him condemed for his alledged corruption. Hey Elliot, was that while you were in KRISTEN as CLIENT 9 ?? Talk about corruption of leadership authority in America. ALL CHARGES AGAINST HARRY RYTTENBERG SHOULD BE THROWN OUT !! The F.B.I. says that Elliot was "CLIENT #9" back as far as 10 years ago. VINDICATION FROM THE GRAVE....I LOVE IT !!

Hal Goldenberg

Shaun Gerien said...

Harry's friend Peter Sherry is said to have bankrolled some of the captal with which Harry bought 3 Ikegami HL77 ENG cameras and 3 Sony 3/4 inch VTRs to start the Broadcast News Service.
I shot news for Harry when BNS was based at CNN in The World Trade Center One lobby, 1980-81.
Shaun Gerien, WSHU - NPR News

Harry said...

My name is Harry M. Ryttenberg and Harry George Ryttenberg was my father. He was my father in the most clinical and distant of ways however, as I never met him once in his lifetime. He never reached out to me, as far as I know and can recall. We shared no moments or dialog that one would typically expect between a father and son. No phone calls. No birthday cards. No playing catch in the park.

Having said that, I would be lying if I said that his death had no effect on me. When I learned of his passing, years after the fact, I was overcome with an almost indescribable and curious wave of emotions: sadness at the passing of someone I never knew, but am indelibly connected to through the bonds of genetics; and regret that I will never know him personally.

I would have liked to have talked with him, just once... if only to achieve a better understanding of who I am based on who I came from. To help learn from his mistakes and avoid falling in to the same traps and troubles that he did in his life.