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Mon, 12.22.1941

Janet Langhart Cohen, TV Journalist born

Janet Langhart Cohen

*Janet Langhart Cohen was born on this date in 1941.  He is a retired Black model, television journalist, and author.  

She was born Janet Leola Floyd in Indianapolis, IN, and raised in Indianapolis housing projects by her mother, a maid and hospital ward secretary.  Her father, Sewell Bridges, a Black man, served in World War II and abandoned his family after the war.   

She began her career in Chicago as a model, working for Marshall Fields and the Ebony Fashion Fair, and she was named Miss Chicagoland. At 28, she became the first Black "weathergirl" for WBBM-TV. She was a Black television journalist at various outlets and interviewed personalities including Rosa Parks and David Duke.   She became friends with Muhammad Ali and F. Lee Bailey and viewed Martin Luther King as a personal mentor. Her skin color hampered her at times, as she was alleged "too black for a white audience, too white for a black audience."   

She was married to Melvin Anthony Langhart for one year. Her second marriage was to Dr. Robert Kistner from 1978-1989; Kistner was a Harvard Medical School professor who specialized in the treatment of endometriosis and committed suicide one year later in 1990.  She worked on a television show called 9 Broadcast Plaza alongside Richard Bey. She was fired from Entertainment Tonight in 1990 after she asked Arnold Schwarzenegger about his father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, 's war service for Nazi Germany.  This violated his agreement with producers, "The Terminator terminated me," she remarked.  

Later, she was a commentator on Black Entertainment Television. She has also worked for the Boston Globe and WCVB-TV in Boston, and she has been a spokeswoman for U.S. News and World Report, and Avon Cosmetics. On February 14, 1996, she married U.S. Senator William Cohen.  In 1999, she founded Citizen Patriot, a non-profit dedicated to recognizing "those who serve, protect, and defend the United States of America." The group presents a periodic CPO Award, which has been given to Jack Valenti and John McCain, and has organized events including a Homeland Defense Tour, which brought USO-like appreciation events to first responders at the September 11 attacks sites and other domestic locations, and a Citizen Patriot tour to military locations overseas.  

Langhart is the author of a memoir, My Life in Two Americas; From Rage to Reason.  With her current husband, in 2007, she released Love in Black and White. It is a memoir about race, religion, and the bonds Langhart and Cohen share over similar life circumstances and backgrounds. She was working on a symbolic one-act play of an imagined conversation between Nazi child victim Anne Frank and child victim of the Jim Crow southern United States, Emmett Till

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Sitting here alone, in peace With my private sadness Bared of the acquirements Of the mind’s eye Vision reversed, upended, Seeing only the holdings Inside the walls of me, Feeling the roots that bind me, To this... PRIVATE SADNESS by Bob Kaufman.
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