Tributes as news anchor Sue Simmons leaves
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WNBC/4, along with celebrities, sports stars, current and former anchors, and a famous New Yorker or two, Friday said goodbye to Sue Simmons, who wrapped a 32-year career as the other half of a team known simply as "Chuck and Sue" to a generation of viewers.
And Sue said goodbye too: "I think I'm ready for a walk off Niagara Falls," she joked Friday night, (referring to Nik Wallenda's feat), later saying, "I've been crying for two weeks everything comes to an end at some point. I hope to be employed somewhere else, even if it's once a week."
Besides her longtime colleague -- or as she once joked, her "anchor husband" -- Chuck Scarborough, tributes were offered by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who declared Friday "Sue Simmons Day," Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, among others.
"You are the quintessential New Yorker," Bloomberg said in his taped remarks.
"I'm old enough to have nice people come up to me and say, 'I grew up watching you,' " said Williams. "But Sue, I grew up watching you."
To say Simmons, who turned 69 last month, has been merely a "TV anchor" in New York doesn't even begin to describe her outsized role in the culture of the tri-state area during the past 30 years. Congenial, flip (and in the early days, famously error-prone too at times, or as New York Magazine called her Friday, "The Blooper Queen"), Simmons' style was intimately familiar to most New Yorkers.
She was the looser half of the Simmons/Scarborough team, and for many -- if not most -- viewers, the more approachable half. Together, these two commanded -- sometimes at the pinnacle, sometimes not -- the New York TV news empire, while their longevity in the nation's biggest city made them arguably the most famous anchor team in the country.
Simmons was also co-anchor of the old "Live at Five," a groundbreaking news program in the early '90s and part of the old "NewsCenter 4" afternoon block. It was at "Live," co-hosted by Jack Cafferty, that Simmons built her early popularity.
In recent years, Simmons had been anchor of the 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts, but after returning from back surgery early in 2011, she retained only the later newscast.