Elizabeth Vargas Biography

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Birth Name: Elizabeth Vargas
Born: 09/06/1962
Birth Place: Paterson, New Jersey, USA

Born Sept. 6, 1962, in Paterson, NJ, Vargas was raised by her father, Rafael, a former colonel in the U.S. Army, and her mother, Anne. Like many children of military personnel, Vargas spent much of her childhood at various army bases both stateside and abroad, including stints in Germany and Belgium. She graduated from Germany's Heidelberg American High School in 1980 and returned to the United States to attend the University of Missouri, where she majored in journalism. While attending the university, she had her first on-air experience as an anchorwoman at the school's television station, KOMU-TV, while after graduation, Vargas worked at TV stations in Nevada and Arizona before joining WBBM in Chicago. Her tenure in the Windy City lasted four years before she departed to become a correspondent for "Dateline NBC" (1992- ) in 1993. While with NBC, she also appeared as a substitute co-anchor on "Today" (NBC, 1952- ) and as a substitute weekend anchor for "Nightly News" (NBC, 1970- ).

Vargas left NBC for ABC in 1996, where she again served as a news anchor and substitute co-host for "Good Morning America" (1975- ). A year later, she became a noted correspondent for "20/20" (ABC, 1978- ), with several of her profiles earning national attention, including pieces on The Da Vinci Code and Mary Magdalene that focused on the role of women in organized religion, breast cancer research, the Laci Peterson case, and the wrongful conviction of Betty Tyson. In fact, her story on Tyson earned Vargas an Emmy nomination in 1998, while the following year she won the award for her coverage of the Elian Gonzalez story. In 2004, Vargas was elected to replace the retiring Barbara Walters as co-anchor of "20/20." Despite her hectic career, Vargas managed to maintain an active social life. She dated actor-producer Michael Douglas and singer Lyle Lovett before marrying Grammy-winning singer Marc Cohn in 2002 after being introduced by Andre Agassi at the 1999 U.S. Open. In 2005, Cohn was slightly injured in a traumatic carjacking incident, which received considerable press attention at the time.

Also that same year, Vargas received her biggest break to date, albeit under tragic circumstances, when "World News Tonight" (1965- ) longtime anchor Peter Jennings stepped away from the desk to begin chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer. Vargas was tapped to co-host the broadcast with "Good Morning America" co-host Charles Gibson. Following Jennings' unexpected and sudden death in 2005, she and Bob Woodruff were named permanent co-anchors. However, not long after the announcement, tragedy struck again when Woodruff was seriously injured by roadside bombs while reporting in Iraq in January 2006, leaving Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer taking turns as guest co-hosts. But by May, Vargas suddenly announced her resignation from "World News Tonight, while Gibson took over. Vargas cited doctor's orders to relax her hectic schedule due to a difficult second pregnancy that resulted in son, Samuel Cohn, and wanting to spend more time with family. But a June 2006 New York magazine article revealed that Gibson threatened to leave if he was not permanently given the anchor, effectively putting Vargas out of a job. However, she did return as co-anchor and correspondent on "20/20" while hosting a number of primetime TV specials on celebrity figures like J.K. Rowling and Michael Jackson.

By Shawn Dwyer