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Robert Flick, an NBC journalist who covered the 1978 Jonestown massacre in Guyana before helping get the syndicated program Entertainment Tonight off the ground as a producer, has died. He was 84.
Flick, who spent more than 15 years at ET, died on New Year’s Eve in a Pasadena hospital after injuring his head in a fall, his wife, Shirley, told the Los Angeles Times.
Flick was working as a West Coast producer for NBC News when he accompanied California congressman Leo Ryan and other journalists and officials to Guyana to investigate reports that cult leader Jim Jones was abusing his followers.
He was standing on an airfield tarmac on Nov. 18, 1978, when some of Jones’ faithful attempted to return with Ryan and his caravan to the States. A group of Jones’ followers suddenly attacked, and Ryan and two of Flick’s NBC colleagues were among those shot to death.
After helping some of the wounded at the airfield, Flick hid in the jungle, escaped to Puerto Rico and filed one of the earliest first-hand reports on the tragedy. More than 900 Americans — virtually the entire population of Jonestown — wound up dead in a mass murder-suicide.
A few years later, Flick exited NBC and in 1981 became coordinating producer of the fledging celebrity-news program ET. He stayed with the show until 1997.
A native of Indianapolis, Flick worked for United Press International and a local NBC affiliate before he joined the network.
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