Special Reports

Pasco High grad moves on to TV, movies

This former Pasco native made a career in the entertainment industry. While not as famous as James Wong Howe, he did make a name for himself in movies and television.

Ex-Pasco man followed national scene with camera

By Dave Eshleman, Herald staff writer

Published on Oct. 3, 1974

Don Norling has come a long way since graduating from Pasco High School in 1929.

He has worked in the movies with Cecil B. DeMille, traveled with every president since Truman, crawled in caves, and suffered a broken nose at the hands of the 1968 Democratic convention.Norling was back in Pasco to visit his mother, Helen Norling, and sister Florence McNeese. He is a television cameraman for WBBM, a CBS affiliate in Chicago.

Norling, 64, was born in Pasco, and first became involved in television in St. Louis in 1946 after serving in World War II.

He had filmed a tornado, sold it to KSD, one of the first television stations in the country, and signed on as a full-time cameraman. While there, he covered a mine disaster in which 118 coal miners were killed.

In 1952, Norling began a short career as a movie cameraman, working with Cecil B. DeMille on “The Greatest Show on Earth.”Between 1951 and 1953, he worked with Charlton Heston on “War Bonnet”” and “Savage,” with Jimmy Stewart on “Thunder Bay” and with Richard Widmark and Karl Malden on “Take the High Ground.”

Norling said he joined CBS in 1953 because he preferred steady work, and because he “recognized the potential and future of television.” He has lived in Chicago since then.

“My first rewarding assignment was with Harry Truman at the national plowing contest in a little Iowa town,” he said.“Then I traveled with Eisenhower, and spent a great deal of time with then Vice President Richard Nixon.”

Although Nixon has always been known for his dislike of newsmen, Norling said he always like him and that Nixon was “always most pleasant with newsmen.”

“He was a hard-hitting politician among hard-hitting politicians,” Norling said, “but he took his hits.”

Norling also covered presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Ford on their visits to the Midwest.

At the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, he was tear-gassed eight times and his nose was broken by Students for a Democratic Society members. He also served as a witness in the “Chicago Seven” trail, he said.

Norling won an Emmy for his “Eye on Art” series in 1962, and a National Press Photographers award for “The Leaper,” a dramatic film account of a man attempting suicide from the dome of the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago.

Another rewarding experience for Norling came when he filmed open-heart surgery in a Chicago hospital.

“We were doing a piece on emergency wards,” Norling said, “and I o sooner set up my equipment in the ward when a woman was wheeled in with a stab wound.”

Norling followed the action with his camera when the unconscious woman was wheeled into the operating room. “Here I was standing in my street clothes while they were cutting her open to remove a blood clot in her heart.”

He was finally ordered out of the operating room, but finished the film through a viewing window.

“That film has since been used all over the world for teaching.”