Tom Ellis, longtime Boston TV anchor, dies at 86

Ellis was the only person to have anchored number-one newscasts on each of the city's primary network affiliates, according to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Tom Ellis, as seen in a 2009 photo. —Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

Tom Ellis, the Boston television news anchor whose career spanned four decades across the city’s networks, has died at the age of 86, WBZ-TV reports.

Ellis was the only person to have anchored number-one newscasts on each of Boston’s primary network affiliates, according to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

The Sandwich resident began his career in radio before he got his start in television news in his native Texas in 1958.

He made his way to New England 10 years later for a job at WBZ-TV.

“His early ratings in Boston set all-time records; six months after joining WBZ in 1968, his solo newscasts captured more than half of the television audience at both 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.,” his biography on the Hall of Fame website reads. “His tenure at WCVB also was distinguished by top-of-the-market ratings for an extended period.”

Advertisement

Ellis anchored at WBZ-TV until 1974, and later co-anchored with Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson during his tenure at WCVB between 1978 and 1982, according to his biography.

He went on to co-anchor with Robin Young and later Diane Willis at WNEV-TV, now WHDH, between 1982 and 1987.

For 15 years starting in 1994, he was an anchor for NECN, according to the Hall of Fame.

“I couldn’t wait to get to work every day,” Ellis told a reporter last year. “It was so much fun. I hated to leave.”

Ellis also appeared in three movies: “Marathon Man” (1976), where he played a television anchor; “29th Street” (1991), in which he was a newscaster; and “True Color” (1991), where he played an FBI agent, according to the Hall of Fame.