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Pathbreaking Newsmaker

Footage from reporter Joanne Desmond ’58 featured in new Hulu film on the Boston Strangler.

Desmond in Studio
Image: Courtesy of Joanne Desmond

Spring 2023

On her final day at WBZ-TV in Boston in July 1965, reporter Joanne Desmond ’58 heard that the old news reels were going to be destroyed, so she asked her news director if she could take a roll of film from her reporting on the Boston Strangler. Her news director obliged.  

Credit: Courtesy of Joanne Desmond

That film clip was restored and featured in Hulu’s 2023 film Boston Strangler, which stars Keira Knightley as Desmond’s real-life news counterpart Loretta McLaughlin. In a scene that sets the stage for the action, Desmond’s report plays on TV as the characters watch. “I had to beg our news director to let me write, stage and deliver that report,” says Desmond. “As the only woman on the news team, I knew how terrorized women were. The Strangler knew where I worked and sent me letters. I was scared to death, frankly.” 

Desmond, who attended the March premieres in Boston and New York City, is finishing her memoir about her days as one of the nation’s first evening news anchorwomen. “How exciting it was to interview Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedys, the first Mercury astronauts and many more newsmakers,” she says. “I loved being part of that incredible era.” 

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