Chet Forte

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Fulvio Chester "Chet" Forte, Jr. (August 7, 1935 in Hackensack, New Jersey – May 18, 1996 in San Diego, California) was an American television director and sports radio talk show host.

Biography

Early life

Forte's life in the sports world began as an All-State basketball star at Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey. He was named to the Star-Ledger's Team of the Century in 1999. From there he starred at Columbia University. In the 1956-57 season, he was named first-team All-American as a point guard, and beat out the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for player of the year.1 He was short for a basketball player, but shot with deadly accuracy from the outside—the approximate location of today's three-point circle.

ABC Sports

After a brief career in the National Basketball Association, Forte began working in TV, joining ABC Sports in the mid-1960s.

In 1970, Forte was named the first director of Monday Night Football. His ability to present the game as entertainment spectacle as well as sporting event, under the mandate of executive producer Roone Arledge, made the show a huge success in both sports and pop culture.

Departure from ABC Sports

However, Forte hid a major problem behind the scenes: he had a gambling addiction. ABC feared that this was affecting his job. That, as well as larger changes that included the departure of Howard Cosell and the retirement of Arledge, led to his departure from ABC in the mid-1980s. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on 3 counts of mail fraud and tax evasion. He cooperated with the government and was spared prison time receiving a 5 yr. probation sentence.

Post-ABC activities

In 1989, he directed the roller derby program RollerGames, which was highly rated and beat American Gladiators in the ratings.

The next year, he became a talk show host at San Diego's XETRA, also known as "XTRA Sports 690." He co-hosted the Loose Cannons show with Steve Hartman. On the show, he openly discussed his addiction and offered to help others in a similar situation.

Death

Forte was still on the air days before his death on May 18, 1996. In fact, a caller even complimented him and mentioned that somebody should recognize his career accomplishments. He was known to enjoy unhealthy foods, so it probably should come as no surprise that he died of a heart attack at the age of 60. In the aftermath, there was a controversy about his medical treatment which led to his survivors filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Steven Gross. The family received a $1.7 million settlement.

References

  1. ^ "Chet Forte, 60, an Innovator in Television Sports", The New York Times, May 19, 1996. Accessed February 12, 2008.







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