August 19, 2022

Nick Charles, 64; Became the Face Of Sports on CNN

Nick Charles, a former taxi driver who became CNN’s first sports anchor and served in that role for nearly two decades, died Saturday at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 64.

He had been suffering from bladder cancer for two years, the network reported.

Nicholas Charles Nickeas was born June 30, 1946. He grew up in Chicago, working late-night jobs in high school to help his family, CNN said. He eventually went to Columbia College Chicago to study communications and drove a taxi to help pay his tuition.

He was still driving taxis in 1970 when he landed a job with WICS in Springfield, Ill. He adopted the name Nick Charles at the urging of his news director, the network said.

Mr. Charles later worked at local stations in Baltimore and Washington and then began at CNN in Atlanta on the network’s first day, June 1, 1980.

He worked with Fred Hickman for almost 20 years on “Sports Tonight,” a daily highlight show that battled with ESPN for viewers. Mr. Charles became such a popular TV personality that Topps put his face on a trading card, CNN reported.

With his well-coiffed, curly black hair and sharp suits, Mr. Charles brought GQ-like style to CNN’s broadcasts. But he also was known as a skilled interviewer who related easily to subjects while not being shy about asking tough questions.

In recent months, Mr. Charles openly discussed his battle with cancer. He made video diaries for his 5-year-old daughter Giovanna to see in years to come.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Charles is survived by his wife of 13 years, Cory, and three children from two previous marriages, Jason, Melissa and Katie.

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