NEW YORK (AP) - Gil Noble, the longtime host of WABC-TV's groundbreaking public affairs program "Like It Is," on which he interviewed such notables as Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Jesse Jackson, died Thursday at age 80.
The television station announced the death of the Emmy Award-winning journalist, who had a debilitating stroke last summer, on its website.
"Gil Noble's life and work had a profound effect on our society and culture," WABC-TV President and General Manager Dave Davis said. "His contributions are a part of history and will be remembered for years to come."
Noble, who was black, joined WABC-TV as a reporter in 1967 and anchored the station's weekend newscasts the following year. Also in 1968, he became host of "Like It Is," which focused on issues concerning African-Americans.
He was equally as comfortable interviewing heads of state such as Mandela or Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as he was interviewing entertainers such as Harry Belafonte and Bill Cosby or sports icons such as Ali or Arthur Ashe.
Noble also created documentaries on luminaries such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Charlie Parker.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, a friend, said Noble's legacy "will continue as a trailblazer for African-Americans in journalism."
"For over forty years he was perhaps the nation's most important black journalist, bringing the struggle for civil rights and black equality into the homes of millions of Americans," Rangel said.
Noble was the recipient of seven Emmy awards and received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists. He also received five honorary doctorates and was cited with more than 650 awards from various community groups.
He had a passion for jazz and was a member of the board of directors of The Jazz Foundation of America.
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and five children. Funeral services haven't yet been announced.