Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning journalist Connie Chung has a storied past when it comes to reporting the news.
Known best for her rapid-fire interview style and trailblazing coverage of pivotal moments in history, Chung has worked for every major American news network throughout her decades-long career, including NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN. Her exclusive interview with President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal garnered widespread media attention around the globe, as did her sit-downs with other public figures like Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tonya Harding, and Marlon Brando.
As the first Asian American and second woman to co-anchor a major network news program, Chung’s work played a major hand in breaking down gender and racial barriers in modern journalism. Below are 10 interesting facts about the illustrious news anchor.
1. Connie Chung’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from China.
Connie Chung is the daughter of William Ling Chung and Margaret Ma, who emigrated to the United States from China in the mid-1940s. Prior to their arrival in Washington, D.C., Chung’s father was an intelligence officer in the Chinese Nationalist government during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which is now regarded as one of the most destructive conflicts of World War II.
It wasn’t until later in life that Chung learned about her elder sisters’ early memories of fleeing the city of Suzhou with her parents. According to her, the family left on two separate boats—one transporting the passengers, the other holding their furniture and other belongings. While the family was fortunately able to escape to safety, the boat with all of their furniture was bombed and destroyed by the Japanese army while in transit.
2. Chung is the youngest of 10 children.
Chung was born in Washington, D.C. on August 20, 1946, less than one year after the family arrived in the United States. She was the youngest of 10 children and the only one born in America. Five of her siblings died prior to her birth, due to the hardships brought on by the Second Sino-Japanese War.
3. Her sisters named her after Constance Moore.
Chung’s birth name is Constance Yu-Hwa Chung, which was chosen for her by her older sisters when she was born. “When my parents called from the hospital and said ‘It’s another girl,’ my sisters said ‘OK, we’ll name her!’ Because my parents didn’t care by then,” Chung explained in a 2009 interview with Karen Herman for the Television Academy Foundation.
Her siblings then decided to open one of their favorite movie magazines and name their new baby sister after the first actor they saw. “Thank God it wasn’t John Wayne,” Chung joked. “It was [the actress] Constance Moore … so my name is Constance.”
4. Chung’s first journalism job was at a local news station.
After growing up in Washington, D.C., Chung went on to attend the University of Maryland, where she studied journalism. Chung graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1969 and soon after landed her first industry job as a part-time evening “copy person” at WTTG-TV, a local D.C. television station.
At the copy desk in the heart of the newsroom, Chung spent two nights a week pulling news stories off the wire and writing them up for the anchors. “It was a very small newsroom, and I figured I could do a lot of things and I could learn a lot of things,” she recalled. “I just wanted to get my foot in the door.” From there, Chung was able to work her way up the ranks to newsroom secretary and, eventually, weekday news writer.
5. Chung’s been married to TV host Maury Povich for almost 40 years.
As luck would have it, Chung’s foot-in-the-door opportunity in media marked more than just the start of her successful career. She met Maury Povich, her future husband, at WTTG-TV; he was already hard at work making a name for himself as an established reporter on the scene. “I would rip the wire copy off the machine and give it to Mr. Povich,” Chung told People in 2020. “He was very gruff and very matter-of-fact. He never looked up. I kept thinking, ‘Maybe someday he’ll acknowledge that I’m a human being.’”
After she left the station, Chung and Povich didn’t cross paths again until 1977 when she was employed full-time as an anchor at a CBS station in Los Angeles. They dated for seven years before they officially tied the knot in 1984, at ages 38 and 45, respectively. Today, their blended family includes Povich’s two daughters from a previous marriage, along with Chung and Povich’s son Matthew, who they adopted in 1995.
“We’ve always respected each other’s careers and we’ve always respected each other’s space and values,” Povich has said of their relationship. “There’s no need for any do-overs. Maybe that’s the reason why we’re still married.”
6. She converted to Judaism after their marriage.
Shortly after marrying Povich, Chung made the decision to fully embrace the Jewish faith. (Chung and Povich were actually married by a rabbi, though she didn’t officially convert until later that year.) The pair has stated publicly that they regularly attend synagogue and maintain a kosher lifestyle year-round.
7. Chung is a three-time national Emmy Award-Winner.
Among her many other honors and accolades, Chung has earned three national Emmy Awards over the course of her career, plus multiple local Emmy Awards for individual achievement.
She was first recognized at the 1987 News Emmys for her work on Shot in Hollywood, a segment which received a special classification for Outstanding Program—Individual Technical Achievement. Two years later, Chung won the 1989 Emmy for Outstanding Interview after her sensational sit-down with Marlon Brando captured audiences around the country. And in 2000, the news anchor took home her third and final national Emmy for her work as a correspondent alongside Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings, and the rest of the team on ABC 2000: The Millennium, which received the award for Outstanding News and Documentary Program Achievement—Programs & Segments.
8. She doesn’t recommend studying journalism.
As one of the most well-known and respected journalists in history, it’s no surprise that Chung is frequently asked to share what advice she’d give to aspiring reporters who are just starting their careers.
Shockingly—and contrary to her own path in higher education—the acclaimed anchor actually recommends against majoring in journalism. “I think anybody who wants to go into journalism should major in history, English, or political science,” Chung said in 2009. “Forgive me, University of Maryland, but I would say do not major in journalism.”
According to Chung, the industry has also changed significantly since she got her start. “The media is evolving and there is no resemblance to when I was in television news,” she told the Toronto Star in 2012, after stepping back from broadcast journalism to focus on her family. “I think I was very, very lucky to be in television news in its heyday.”
9. She has also appeared as herself on multiple television shows.
Beyond her work in news, Chung has also dabbled in acting over the years. It hasn’t been such a far departure from her typical role in front of a camera, though—so far, her credits are all guest appearances as herself on shows like House of Cards, Fresh Off the Boat, and Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine. Most recently, she appeared as herself in two episodes of the HBO miniseries The Undoing, opposite Hugh Grant.
10. Chung and Povich started a local weekly newspaper together in Montana.
Chung and Povich reportedly split their time between homes in New York, Florida, and Montana. In 2007, they established The Flathead Beacon, their own weekly newspaper based out of downtown Kalispell, Montana.
“We felt that the community where we lived in the Flathead Valley deserved more in a daily newspaper than what they were getting,” Povich told Parade in 2018.
With an overarching mission to deliver thought-provoking journalism and commentary to the region, the award-winning outlet has since been recognized as one the best newsrooms in Montana by The Columbia Journalism Review. “I look at the Beacon like a father who’s very proud of a child,” Povich has said of the paper and its success.
After producing and distributing more than 800 weekly print newspapers over the span of 16 years, The Flathead Beacon recently announced their intentions to switch to an online-only format in early 2023.