George Crile, III, papers
Scope and Contents
The George Crile, III, papers, 1978-2005, cover the CBS producer’s three-decades-long career. Materials include research files, clippings, audio and video recordings from new stories produced for CBS News, CBS Reports, 60 Minutes, and 60 Minutes II. There is special emphasis on Crile’s research and reporting on the Afghan War and the development of his 2003 book, Charlie Wilson’s War. The Crile papers also include a number of photo albums from Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson’s trip to Afghanistan.
- Creation: 1978 - 2005
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A portion of these papers is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
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There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.
George Crile, III, (1945-2006) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 5, 1945, to a prominent American family that included a grandfather, Dr. George Crile, who was a pioneering surgeon and co-founder of the Cleveland Clinic. Crile attended local schools and received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He then attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Crile served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a lance corporal from 1968 to 1974.
He began his journalism career working for the Washington columnists Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. He became a reporter for The Gary Post-Tribune (now The Post-Tribune), in Gary, Indiana, and also worked as a Pentagon correspondent for Ridder Newspapers. From 1973 to 1976, he was Washington editor of Harper's Magazine. In addition to Harper's, his articles appeared in other publications including Washington Monthly, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Crile joined CBS News in 1976 to produce The CIA's Secret Army, a documentary that chronicled the CIA's secret wars against Castro after the Bay of Pigs invasion It was broadcast in June 1977 and won an American Film Festival Blue Ribbon.
Among Crile’s early notable documentary reports were The Battle for South Africa, (1978) which won a Peabody Award; Gay Power, Gay Politics, (1980) which focused on politics in San Francisco following the assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978; and The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception(1982). The latter, which aired on January 23, 1982, was the subject of a libel action brought by Gen. William Westmoreland.
In 1985, Crile joined 60 Minutes, producing reports for Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, and Harry Reasoner. He received Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Awards for two reports: Room 19, a 1991 60 Minutes report, featured a secret room in Moscow where the brains of Soviet leaders were preserved, and General Sergeyev, a 1994 60 Minutes II segment he produced for Ed Bradley that followed a top Russian nuclear army officer touring secret U.S. nuclear sites.
In the 1986 report Michele, which won an Emmy Award, Bradley talked to Michele Duvalier, the wife of deposed Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier, whose extravagant lifestyle led to his downfall. Crile's reports also include the topics of Three Mile Island, the battle of the Panama Canal, U.S. Cuban policy, the Sandinistas, the U.S. Saudi connection, the Gulf War, the killers in Rwanda, the KGB and the world of Soviet intelligence.
In the late 1980s, Crile began the research and reporting on the Afghan War that led to his 2003 best-selling book, Charlie Wilson's War, about the Texas congressman’s work to supply Afghan rebels with weapons to fight the Soviets; the Russians' defeat helped precipitate the end of Soviet Communism and helped bring militant Muslims to power in Afghanistan. Crile’s book is the basis of the Tom Hanks/Mike Nichols film, Charlie Wilson's War.
The years of reporting on the book made Crile well-informed on militant Islamists and put him in a position to believe that al Qaeda would become an even bigger story and a more dangerous threat in the coming months. In early 2001, he traveled extensively and shot footage in Pakistan and Afghanistan, speaking with Islamic fundamentalists who knew bin Laden and with ordinary Muslims who supported him. His report Prophesies of Terror, in which Crile interviewed a member of bin Laden's inner circle, Khalid Kwaja, shed new light on al Qaeda and its supporters.
George Crile, III, died on May 15, 2006, from pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Susan Lyne; four daughters, Katy, Molly, Susan, and Jane.
Sources: Douglas Martin, "George Crile, CBS Documentary Producer, Dies at 61,” The New York Times; Gina Pace, “CBS Journalist George Crile Dies At 61,” CBS News
29.17 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The George Crile, III, papers, 1978-2005, includes research files, clippings, audio and video recordings from new stories produced for CBS News, CBS Reports, 60 Minutes, and 60 Minutes II. There is special emphasis on Crile’s research on the Afghan War and the development of his 2003 book, Charlie Wilson’s War.
This collection was processed by Christelle Le Faucheur, November 2017, revised by Emma Trent, March 2021.
- CBS News. (Organization)
- CBS reports (Television program) (Organization)
- 60 minutes (Television program) (Organization)
- 60 minutes II (Television program) (Organization)
- Wilson, Charles, 1933-2010 (Person)
- Avrakotos, Gust, 1938-2005 (Person)
- Bin Laden, Osama, 1957-2011. (Person)
- Westmoreland, William C. (William Childs), 1914-2005 (Person)
- George Crile, III, Papers, 1978-2005
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