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Janet Langhart

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Occupation  Writer, journalist
Role  model
Nationality  American
Spouse  William Cohen (m. 1996)
Subject  Racism
Education  Butler University
Name  Janet Langhart

Janet Langhart Donna Lee and Janet Langhart Photos Zimbio

Born  December 22, 1940 (age 82) Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (1940-12-22)
People also search for  William Cohen, Diana Dunn, Clara Hartley, Reuben Cohen

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Janet Leola Langhart Cohen (née Floyd; born December 22, 1940) is an American television journalist and anchor, and author. Beginning her career as a model, she started in television reporting the weather.


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She serves as President and CEO of Langhart Communication. She is the spouse of former Defense Secretary William Cohen. She has written two memoirs, one with her husband. In June 2009, her one-act play Anne and Emmett, inspired by the lives of Anne Frank and Emmett Till, premiered at the United States Holocaust Museum.

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Early life and education

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She was born as Janet Leola Floyd in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1940. She and her mother Mary Floyd lived in an Indianapolis housing project; her mother worked as a maid and hospital ward secretary. Both her parents were African-American; they also had European and Native American ancestry. Her mother, Mary, and her father, Sewell Bridges, had formed a relationship at a young age but they never married. Bridges served in World War II and abandoned his family after the war.

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In 1959, Floyd earned her high school diploma from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis. She was a member of the band and debate team. From 1960 until 1962, she attended Butler University, a private liberal arts university in Indianapolis founded by abolitionist and attorney Ovid Butler in 1855.

Marriages and family

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Floyd was married to Melvin Anthony Langhart for one year. Her second marriage was to Dr. Robert Kistner, a Harvard Medical School professor who specialized in the treatment of endometriosis. She was married to Kistner from 1978-89.

Media career

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In 1962, Langhart began her career in Chicago as a model, where she worked for Marshall Field's and the Ebony Fashion Fair. She won the title of Miss Chicagoland. At the age of 29, Langhart became the first black "weathergirl" for WBBM-TV. She became a noted black television journalist at a variety of outlets, most notably Boston's WCVB-TV, where she co-hosted the morning program Good Day! (originally titled Good Morning!) for three stints between 1973-87. During her career, she interviewed numerous personalities including Rosa Parks and David Duke. She became friends with Muhammad Ali and F. Lee Bailey, and considered Martin Luther King, Jr. to be a personal mentor.

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Langhart worked on a television show at WOR-TV in New York City called 9 Broadcast Plaza alongside Richard Bey. She was fired from Entertainment Tonight in 1990 after she asked Arnold Schwarzenegger, apparently violating an agreement he had with producers, about his father Gustav Schwarzenegger's Nazi background. "I was terminated by The Terminator", she remarked. Later, she was a commentator on Black Entertainment Television (BET). She has also worked for the Boston Globe and WCVB-TV in Boston. She has been a spokeswoman for U.S. News and World Report and Avon Cosmetics. She identifies as a liberal Democrat.

Marriage to Cohen and Pentagon life

Langhart met William Cohen during a long-distance interview when she was based in Boston and he was a Congressman from Maine. They did not meet in person until she worked for BET in Washington, D.C.; Andrew Young set up an interview for her with Cohen. They remained friends. They began dating after each divorced. The couple married in the United States Capitol on Valentine's Day 1996. Cohen, a moderate Republican, was appointed by President Bill Clinton as his Secretary of Defense.

When William Cohen became Secretary of Defense, Langhart-Cohen became known as "First Lady of the Pentagon." She had a visible public role while Cohen was in office. She spurred several initiatives to support the morale and well-being of military and civilian employees of the Defense Department, including the Military Family Forum, the Pentagon Pops concert series, the Secretary of Defense Annual Holiday Tour (an entertainment revue), and her series of interviews on Pentagon TV, Special Assignment. She was given a volunteer position as "First Lady of the USO" and helped recruit celebrities and civilians to work with the United Service Organizations.

In 1999, Langhart-Cohen founded the Citizen Patriot Organization (CPO), a non-profit dedicated to recognizing "those who serve, protect, and defend the United States of America". The group periodically presents a CPO Award. The award has been given to Jack Valenti and John McCain. The group has also organized events including a Homeland Defense Tour. This brought appreciation events to first responders at the September 11 attacks sites and other domestic locations, and a Citizen Patriot tour to military locations overseas.


Langhart is the author of a memoir, My Life in Two Americas; From Rage to Reason (2004). She and her husband William together wrote a joint memoir, Love in Black and White (2007). It explores race, religion, and the bonds that Langhart and Cohen share through similar life circumstances and backgrounds.

Langhart wrote Anne and Emmett, a one-act play that imagines a conversation between Anne Frank, a Dutch Jew who died in a Nazi concentration camp, and Emmett Till, an African American from Chicago who was lynched in a small town in the Mississippi Delta. They were both young teenagers at their deaths. It premiered in 2009.

Holocaust Museum shooting

On the afternoon of June 10, 2009, Langhart was on her way to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the premiere of her play, Anne and Emmett. It was to be presented in honor of the 80th anniversary of Anne Frank's birth. Her husband William Cohen was waiting for her at the museum.

The premiere was cancelled after 88-year-old James Wenneker von Brunn fatally shot a security guard. Langhart and her husband appeared on CNN that afternoon to describe what they had seen.


Janet Langhart Wikipedia