Bobbie Wygant

Obituary of Bobbie Wygant

Beloved local television legend Bobbie Wygant has passed away at the age of 97.

Television was her life.  She faced her first TV camera at the age of twelve at the 1939 New York World's Fair where experimental television equipment was first introduced.  That early encounter led to her trailblazing career in broadcasting that lasted more than seventy years, all at NBC 5.

A native of Lafayette, Indiana, Bobbie graduated from Purdue University in 1947 with a degree in broadcasting.  After moving to Fort Worth with her husband, Philip Wygant, she was hired by Channel 5 two weeks before the station went on the air in 1948. She liked to say, "They poured me in with the foundation."

During the station's early years, Bobbie performed in live skits, game shows and commercials. In 1961, she became the first woman in the Southwest to produce and host her own live talk show, "Dateline." She was on the air live on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot.  For many years, she was the local co-host for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In the mid-1960s, Bobbie found herself among a select few television journalists to be invited to travel on national and international press junkets that promoted newly-released motion pictures.  Admired for her innate curiousity and good nature, Bobbie developed into a world class interviewer and Hollywood insider who loved comedy as much as drama. Over the next six decades, she traveled the world to conduct thousands of celebrity interviews, many of which are now posted on her YouTube channel. 

She never overlooked covering the local arts community, especially Casa Manana, Dallas Summer Musicals, The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Kimbell Art Museum.

For her work as one of the nation's first entertainment reporters and critics, she received many honors and awards.  In 2000, she was recognized in Los Angeles by her peers in the national Broadcast Film Critics Association with their "Critics' Critic Award." She received an Emmy in 2004 when she was inducted into the prestigious Gold Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the first Texas broadcaster to be honored.  In 2014, she traveled to New York City to receive a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media. In 2018, TCU Press published her illustrated coffee table autobiography, "Talking to the Stars: Bobbie Wygant's Seventy Years in Television" that included more than 500 photographs.

With her old school professionalism and polish, she was a role model and mentor to many women, as well as men. She defied any gender biases she encountered by plowing past them with grace and aplomb.  In the NBC5 newsroom she was affectionately known as The Iron Butterfly. Her unshakable Catholic faith bolstered her from cradle to grave. 

A self-professed news junkie, at home she always had two TV sets going 24/7.  Sunday staples were "Meet the Press,"  "Fareed Zakaria GPS" and "60 Minutes." An NBC diehard, her weeknight highlight was Lester Holt at 5:30 followed by NBC 5's local newscast. NBC's "Dateline" was a favorite program, as were "Antiques Roadshow," "Dowton Abbey," and "Monty Python."

Her favorite movies included "Lawrence of Arabia," "Gone With the Wind," "Roman Holiday," "The Third Man," and Jacques Tati films. Gregory Peck and Meryl Streep were among her favorite actors.  Bob Hope was a long-time personal friend.  Later in life, she became a Cowboys and a Mavericks fan.

Bobbie was preceded in death by her husband of 38 years, Philip Wygant, who was the longtime Promotions Director at Channel 5.  She leaves behind many special friends she made across the country: Cathy and Tom Cogswell, Erin and George Pennacchio, and Virginia Walker.  Locally, a legion of devoted friends supported her through the years, including the Buckley family (Betty Bob, Betty Lynn, Norman, Patrick and Dianne), Erik Clapp, Olivia Lira, Carmen Vasquez, Libby Altwegg, Tracee Cummins, and Christina Patoski. Caregivers Patty Saenz, Veronica Delgadillo, and Orlena Samaniego surrounded her with boundless affection until her last breath. Nurse Stephanie Guzman and physical therapist D.K. Patel went beyond the call of duty.  Dr. Robert Kelly was always there for her and is without peer.

Rosary: Friends are invited to a Rosary at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, February 22, 2024 at Thompson's Harveson & Cole Funeral Home, 4350 River Oaks Blvd., Fort Worth.  

A time to share Eulogies will follow the Rosary and visitation will continue until 8:00 p.m. 

Mass of Christian Burial: 2 p.m. Friday, February 23, 2024 at St. Patrick Cathedral, 1206 Throckmorton, Fort Worth.  Pallbearers: Brian Curtis, Eric Kreindler, Erik Clapp, Patrick Buckley, Mark Simmeroth, Steve Moffett, and Johnny Reno.

Private entombment will be at Calvary Hill Mausoleum in Dallas. 

Memorials: Should friends desire, memorials in lieu of flowers may be given in her memory to a charity of your choice.