'I think about it every day': Brother of television anchor Christine Chubbuck who killed herself live on air speaks ahead of release of two new films about the tragedy
- 'Kate Plays Christine,' is a film about an actress, Kate Lyn Sheil, who struggles to develop into the character of Christine Chubbuck
- Chubbuck died live on television in 1974 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head during a Saturday broadcast of her show in Florida
- She suffered from depression for years and her parents spent $1million over 20 years on psychiatrists and psychologists to help her
- Video of her actual suicide was recorded and kept by the station owner
- It is now in the possession of lawyers, never to be released
Two new films are due to be released about the tragic story of a young television anchor in Florida who was the first person to commit suicide on live television.
Christine is about TV presenter Christine Chubbuck, who died on air as she read the news in 1974, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Coming out on the same date, Kate Plays Christine, is a film about an actress, Kate Lyn Sheil, who struggles to develop into the character of Chubbuck as she attempts to portray her in a movie.
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Two new films tell of the tragic and little known story about Christine Chubbuck (pictured above), a TV anchor in Florida who was the first person to commit suicide on live television
Brother, Greg Chubbuck, has been speaking about his sister's life in the run-up to the films
The topic is the subject of two films which are both due to be released this October
Kate Plays Christine is a film about an actress, Kate Lyn Sheil, who struggles to develop into the character of Chubbuck. Sheil is pictured above from the film as she prepares for the scene about the suicide
In the film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, Sheil can be seen trying on costumes, gathering information about the person she is attempting to play and running lines from the script
Her brother, Greg has now shared his thoughts about his sister's death, one of the most shocking moments in broadcasting history.
On July 15, 1974, Chubbuck appeared on the talk show and went through a few stories live before she made a surprising announcement.
'In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color,' she said.
'You are going to see another first: an attempted suicide.'
Chubbuck, still on air, then held up a .38-caliber revolver that she had underneath her desk. The brunette aimed it at the back of her head and pulled the trigger.
Her news team froze and, at first, thought it was a joke, but when her boss ran over to shout at her, he came face to face with the horrible reality of what she had done.
Chubbuck (above), 29, worked as the anchor for a show broadcast that aired in the Sarasota area on WXLT, which is now WWSB. The show, Suncoast Digest, aired at 9am on Saturdays
Chubbuck (above) battled with depression for years. On July 15, 1974, she appeared live on her show and went through a few stories before she made a surprising announcement
The station's live broadcast went black seconds later before running other programming for the rest of the day.
Chubbuck suffered irreparable brain damage and died about 15 hours later at a local hospital.
Speaking to The Sun from his home in Florida, Greg Chubbuck says that not a day goes by where he doesn't think about his sister's death.
'Public suicide is another level beyond suicide. It's an anger and rage that I can't understand and I've thought about it every day for 42 years.'
In the months and years after her death, Greg was active in ensuring that the footage of the gruesome episode was never made public. It is now in the hands of a large law firm who have been entrusted with keeping the tragic clip safe.
Chubbuck announced that 'you are going to see another first: an attempted suicide' on the show. She pulled out a gun and shot herself in the head. She died 15 hours later at a hospital
Video of Chubbuck's actual suicide was recorded and kept by the station owner for years and is now in the possession of a law firm who keep it under lock and key
Greg, who is now 70, also made sure that nothing was ever produced by filmmakers or documentary makers.
He wanted to protect his family, particularly his parents, from the sad story of their daughter's death being replayed over and over.
Chubbuck, 29, worked as the anchor for a talk show broadcast that aired in the Sarasota area on WXLT, which is now WWSB.
The Ohio native graduated from Boston University in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism.
She went on to land her first TV job in Cleveland the following year, before spending a few years in between jobs in several states.
Chubbuck moved to Florida to live with her mother after her parents divorced and worked as a hospital computer operator until she was hired as a reporter for WXLT.
The station's owner, Bob Nelson, decided to give Chubbuck a community affairs talk show called the 'Suncoast Digest'. It aired at 9.00am on Saturdays and was hosted live by the journalist.
Kate Lyn Sheil seen in a scene from the documentary film, Kate Plays Christine
Despite being the last survivor from Christine's immediate family, Greg is unhappy at the latest films being made.
Although he has no plans to view either of them, he believes that her story will be twisted and focus on Christine's miserable love life that saw her have a series of failed affairs.
Greg tells The Sun that she had two serious relationships. The first ended when the guy died in a car crash while Christine was still a teenager. The second was with another man who worked in television.
She moved to Pittsburgh to be with him but her father was dead against the relationship because the man was a Jew.
Greg believes the films may focus on the fact Christine was a spinster and still a virgin at the age of 30.
In the second film, Rebecca Hall portrays Christine in the film of the same name
British Hollywood actress Rebecca Hall playsthe lead role in the film
Hall, 33, who has featured in a host of films including Frost/Nixon and Iron Man 3, hopes the story can raise awareness about rare mental illnesses
Another part of the film is likely to focus on Christine's love for fellow news anchor George Peter Ryan who ended up dating one of her close friends. Her love was never returned.
Greg tells The Sun said that he admits he never approved of George, who had a reputation for being a ladies' man.
'If things had developed between them, then I would certainly have stepped in.'
The film also looks at his sister's disapproval that her newsroom bosses focus on violent tragedies to lead her weekend newscasts.
The notion was, 'if it bleeds, it leads'. Though her bosses can't have known it at the time, such a policy ended up exacerbating Christine's longstanding mental health issues.
Hall said Christine makes the audience emotionally attached to Ms Chubbuck
The 29-year-old looked into the camera and said: 'In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first — attempted suicide' (pictured here from the film Christine)
She had exhibited signs of depression since she was ten-years-old, however she was only ever diagnosed as having 'general depression'.
In the weeks before her death, Christine suggested to her bosses that she do a news story about suicide.
She went around asking experts tips on how to end a life. She ended up taking their advice and used the gun that they suggested.
Mike Simmons, the TV station's news director at the time, found the script that she had been reading from during her newscast.
It reportedly included the lines she read before shooting herself, and also an account in third-person that was to be read by another staff member who took over the broadcast after the incident.
It described her as being in a 'critical condition' in hospital.
Hall said of Christine, 'I felt that, playing her. It was an interesting feeling on set. The film is a group of people trying to help and trying to help someone survive.'
Christine ending her life was deliberate. She had handwritten a news item where she wrote about her suicide in the third person mentioning she would be taken to hospital before dying
Speaking to The Sun Greg believed that his sister plotter her suicide meticulously.
The weekend before she died, she gave his fiancée an piece of jewelry that was a family heirloom.
Christine apparently also chose a day when none of her family would be watching her show.
Her brother was working that morning and her grandparents were at the doctors.
Kate Lyn Sheil, as Christine Chubbuck. In the weeks before she died, the real Christine prepared a news story about suicide
Christine asked various 'experts' the best way to die for a new feature. She ended up taking their chilling advice
Video of Chubbuck's actual suicide was recorded and kept by the station owner for years.
After he died, his wife, Mollie Nelson, took possession of the tape.
She told said that her husband never told her why he kept the tape, but that after the debut of Kate Plays Christine earlier this year, she gave the tape to a 'very large law firm' for safekeeping.
Mollie Nelson also said that she has no plans to ever make it available to the public and that she's only kept it to honor her husband's wishes.
Ever the devoted brother, even before Christine died, Greg managed to get lawyers to take out an injunction preventing the channel repeating any of the footage.
'There's nothing glorious about suicide, or what it does to the people who loved the person,' he says.
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