Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy that Transfixed the Nation (ICW)

Wednesday, March 10 at 6:00pm

This is a past event.
Virtual Event

At dusk on a spring evening in 1949, a three-year-old girl fell down an abandoned well shaft near her family home in the quiet community of San Marino. Across more than two full days of a fevered rescue attempt, the fate of Kathy Fiscus remained unknown.

The region, the nation, and the world watched, read, and listened to every moment of the forty-eight hour rescue attempt by way of radio, newsreel footage, and wire service reporting. Because of the well’s proximity to the transmission towers on nearby Mount Wilson, the rescue attempt became the first breaking-news event ever to be broadcast live on television. The Kathy Fiscus tragedy singlehandedly proved the utility of live television news, proving that real-time television news broadcasting could work and could transfix the public. Media across the globe has never been the same.

In Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy that Transfixed the Nation, USC historian William Deverell tells the story of the first live, breaking-news TV spectacle in American history. 

Join Angel City Press and the Huntington-USC Institute on California & the West as we celebrate the book’s release on Wednesday, March 10, 2021! During the evening, Deverell will sit down for a virtual conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Patt Morrison, before taking questions from the audience.


Register here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/acpchannel-book_launch_kafi-20210310/register


  • William Deverell is professor of history and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West at the University of Southern California. He is the author of numerous studies of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century American West, including Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past and Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941.
  • Patt Morrison is a longtime Los Angeles Times writer, columnist and podcaster who has a share of two Pulitzer Prizes. Her broadcasting work has won six Emmys and twelve Golden Mike awards. Both of her nonfiction books have been bestsellers: Rio LA, her book about the Los Angeles River, and Don’t Stop the Presses! Truth, Justice and the American Newspaper. She the first woman in nearly twenty-five years to be honored with the L.A. Press Club’s lifetime achievement award. Pink’s, the legendary Hollywood hot dog stand, named its veggie dog after her.
Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


Other Location


history, social sciences, Dornsife, ICW




Registration required

History, Institute on California and the West (ICW)
Add this to your calendar

Recent Activity

You're not going yet!

This event requires registration.