Dow had been a correspondent for "48 Hours" since 1990 after serving as a contributor to the broadcast since its premiere Jan. 19, 1988. Dow was also a contributor to the critically acclaimed 1986 documentary "48 Hours on Crack Street," which led to creation of the single-topic weekly news magazine.
"CBS News is deeply saddened by this sudden loss," said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports. "The CBS News family has lost one of its oldest and most talented members, whose absence will be felt by many and whose on-air presence and reporting skills touched nearly all of our broadcasts. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Kathy and their children Joelle, Danica and David."
Dow's family released the following statement on Sunday:
"At the time of Harold's death, he was suffering from adult onset asthma. On Monday, Aug. 16, 2010, Harold checked himself into the Valley Hospital emergency room in Ridgewood (N.J.) for severe asthmatic symptoms. According to the Hackensack Police Department incident report, an inhaler was found on the floor of Harold's vehicle. Therefore, it is believed at this time that Harold succumbed to an asthma attack while behind the wheel."
Over the course of his distinguished career at the network, Dow served as a correspondent for the CBS News magazine "Street Stories" (1992-93) and reported for the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "Sunday Morning" and the CBS News legal series, "Verdict." He served as co-anchor on "CBS News Nightwatch" (1982-83), prior to which he had been a correspondent (1977-82) and reporter (1973-77) at the CBS News Los Angeles bureau.
He has covered many of the most important stories of our times, including 9/11, where he barely escaped one of the falling Twin Towers; the return of POW's from Vietnam; the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, with whom he had an exclusive interview in December 1976; the movement of American troops into Bosnia and the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster. He also conducted the first network interview with O. J. Simpson following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
"Harold Dow was a reporter for the ages. Insatiably curious, he was happiest when he was on the road deep into a story. He took pride in every story he did," said "48 Hours Mystery" Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky. "It was his humanity, which was felt by everyone he encountered, even in his toughest interviews, that truly defined the greatness of his work. He was the most selfless man I have known. It is a tremendous loss for '48 Hours,' CBS News and the world of journalism. I deeply miss him already."
Dow's reports have garnered him numerous awards. He has been honored with a George Foster Peabody Award for his "48 Hours" report on runaways and a Robert F. Kennedy Award for a report on public housing. He has received five Emmy Awards, including one for a story on the American troops' movement into Bosnia (1996) and one for "distinguished reporting" for his coverage of the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster (1989). He won an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award, an Operation Push Excellence in Journalism Award and, for a "48 Hours" profile of Patti LaBelle. He also was recently recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists for his report about Medgar Evers, which was featured in the CBS News special "Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama."
Dow began his career at CBS News in 1972 as a broadcast associate. Before joining CBS News, Dow, who has been based in New York since 1982, had been an anchor at Theta Cable TV in Santa Monica, Calif. He was also a freelance reporter for KCOP-TV Los Angeles and a news anchor for WPAT Radio in Paterson, N.J. Dow became the first African American television reporter in Omaha, Neb., where he served as co-anchor and talk-show host for KETV Omaha.
Dow was born in Hackensack, N.J., and attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha.