John Chancellor was an award-winning reporter and evening news anchor for NBC-TV. John was born in Chicago on July 14, 1927. His mother was from County Mayo in Ireland. His father died when John was young and he and his mother lived at some of the best addresses in downtown Chicago. This was not because the family had money but because his mother worked for various fashionable hotels in management including the Stevens Hotel (later Conrad Hilton Hotel) at 720 South Michigan Avenue. Living quarters at the hotel was part of the compensation package
Early in World War II during his high school years, John attended DePaul Academy for three years and the University of Chicago Hyde Park Day School for one semester. He worked at a variety of odd jobs including a stint at the Chicago Daily Tribune as a copy boy. He also worked at Kroch and Brentano's Book Store on South Wabash and on a tour boat on the Illinois River. He got the equivalent of a high school diploma from the US Army in 1944 and served until 1946. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1949 and went to work as a reporter for The Chicago Sun-Times, a new newspaper that was the result of a merger of The Chicago Sun and the The Chicago Times in 1946. The paper was then owned by Marshall Field, III. He covered the Little Rock, Arkansas school desegregation story for The Chicago Sun-Times in 1957. Chancellor was married twice in the 1950s. The first marriage was short and the second marriage to Barbara Upshaw in 1958 lasted many years until his death.
In the late 1950s John worked as a reporter and then news anchor for WBKB-TV (later WLS-TV) and then for NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV. He had various appointments with NBC News as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and Berlin. He reported for the short version of the Huntley-Brinkley Report and served for one year in 1961 as host for The Today Show on NBC. Chancellor reported from Berlin on President Kennedy's visit to that city in June 1963 and then reported on European reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy in November of that year.
Years later NBC based another veteran reporter from Chicago in Berlin, Garrick Utley, who was the son of Channel 5 reporters Clifton Utley and Frayn Utley. John was one of a large number of Chicago news veterans who went on to work at the network level including Utley, John Palmer, Hal Bruno, John McWethy, Frank Reynolds, Bill Kurtis, and many others.