Keith W. McBee, an early television news broadcaster in Baltimore who moved on to Washington and the ABC network, died early yesterday at his home in Ruxton of cancer complicated by other illnesses.
Mr. McBee, who was 66, began his television career in Baltimore in 1948 at WBAL-TV, where he was news editor for seven years. In 1957, he moved to WJZ-TV which was known as WAAM-TV at the time he was hired but changed its call letters before he started to work.
At WJZ, he was news director until 1962, and was also sent on foreign assignments to Berlin and the Middle East.
In 1960, he hired George Baumann, now senior reporter at WJZ, who described him yesterday as remarkably talented with a tremendous sense of humor.
Mr. Baumann praised Mr. McBee's memory and talent for writing television news, recalling that in an hour, he wrote a half-hour program reviewing the news of the previous year, doing much of the work "off the top of his head."
In 1962, Mr. McBee moved to WMAL-TV in Washington as producer and anchor of the evening news. Then in 1964, he became a political correspondent in the Washington bureau of ABC News. Two years later, he added the job of anchor of the network's weekend news programs to his other duties, working in Washington during the week and in New York on the weekends.
Before leaving the network in 1970, he covered the 1964 and 1968 political conventions and was a pool correspondent for all the networks on Gemini and Apollo space missions.
In 1970, he became a special assistant and writer in the office of the Secretary of Transportation in Washington, dealing mainly with aviation security and anti-hijacking programs.
Five years later, he moved to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he retired as an editor of publications in 1981.
Born in Baltimore, he was a graduate of St. Paul's School and attended the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Hawaii. He worked as a newspaper and radio reporter in Honolulu before starting at WBAL.
During World War II, he was a flight engineer in the Army Air Forces.
In 1950, he married the former Lucy Hyde Banks, who survives him.
He continued to live in Ruxton while working in Washington and New York and was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars and the Maryland Society of Sons of the Revolution.
A memorial service is to be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Charles and Saratoga streets.
His survivors also include three sons, Keith W. McBee Jr. and Edward V. McBee, both of New York City, and Andrew A. D. McBee of Baltimore; and two grandsons.