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Legendary CBS Newswoman, TV Pioneer Marlene Sanders Dies At 84

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — Marlene Sanders, a veteran television journalist for ABC and CBS News at a time that relatively few women did that job, has died of cancer. She was 84.

Sanders was also the mother of lawyer and CNN and New Yorker journalist Jeffrey Toobin, who announced that she died Tuesday on his Facebook page.

"A pioneering television journalist — the first network newswoman to report from Vietnam, among many other firsts — she informed and inspired a generation," Toobin wrote. "Above all, though, she was a great mom."

Sanders was a producer for the late Mike Wallace in the early stages of his career. She wrote, reported and produced news and documentaries for WNEW-TV in New York before joining ABC News in 1964. She worked there for 14 years.

She was the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast in 1964 when she filled in for Ron Cochran. (Barbrara Walters would become the first full-time female network news anchor in 1976.) The tenacious Sanders reported from Vietnam in 1966. She often served as a weekend anchor and for three months substituted for Sam Donaldson in 1971. A pioneer off camera as well, she later became the first woman to be a vice president at ABC News, where she was head of the network's documentary unit.

She moved to CBS News in 1978, where she also wrote and produced documentaries. She often reported and wrote on the women's movement, and closely followed the status of women in her own industry, said James Goldston, ABC News president. While at CBS in the late 70s and early 80s, she also anchored "Newsbreak."

Sanders co-authored a book, "Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News" in 1994 and taught at both New York University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

"Marlene Sanders got there first," Bill Moyers said. "That women are finally recognized as first-rate professionals is due in no small part to the path-breaking courage of Marlene Sanders."

Even after her official retirement, Sanders often lent her unmistakable voice to PBS documentaries and the series "America Undercover" including "Autopsy."

In 2014, she appeared in the documentary "She's Beautiful When She's Angry" -- a chronicle of the many women who helped found the feminist movement.

Sanders won three Emmys.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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