The Stunning Transformation Of Katie Couric

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Katie Couric has enthralled and engaged audiences around the U.S. and around the world for decades. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Couric moved to Washington, D.C., to work for ABC. Eventually, she would move on to pastures that included much larger audiences (and much juicier paychecks), but she later recalled to the Washingtonian that her first job was exciting. Couric explained, "I didn't have a lot of responsibilities because I was in an entry-level position, but just to be involved in this whole new enterprise was fun and interesting."

While Couric has clearly enjoyed a tremendous professional life, her personal life has had its fills of highs and lows. After losing her first husband, Jay Monahan, to cancer in 1998, Couric eventually remarried in 2014. She's continued to be a stalwart advocate of health screenings, especially those that detect cancer. 

Here's a peek into a life that's truly been extraordinary — and one that is clearly still being lived fully. This is the stunning transformation of Katie Couric.

Katie Couric was raised by a Jewish mother and Presbyterian father who worked in media

In many ways, it's no surprise that Katie Couric pursued a career in journalism. As revealed in Edward Klein's biography about her, "Katie: The Real Story," her father, John Couric, tried his hand at journalism as well, picking up jobs at a newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving on to a position at a news service in Washington, D.C. After those options didn't pan out, he worked in public relations for a short time (via 18Doors). Though less is known about the life of her mother, Elinor Couric, the biography reveals her Jewish heritage.

According to NBC Washington, Katie's father retired in 1985 after having worked as a writer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2011, the news outlet reported his death at the age of 90 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. Katie's mother died in September 2014, with Katie expressing on Twitter that her heart was "broken" before adding, "I lost my mom and best friend. We love you and miss you, Mom/Granny."

She struggled with bulimia as a teen

Katie Couric released her memoir "Going There" in 2021, using the book as an opportunity to open up about a variety of issues, including the fact she suffered from bulimia as a teen. Couric reveals she dealt with the disease for nearly eight years, adding that her mother and sister were both regular dieters and that her own behavior took a long time to work through. She explains, "Starve, cheat, binge, purge — the cycle would take years to break" (per the New York Post).

While she has since recovered from bulimia, Couric admits she still wrestles with her body image and especially with being weighed at the doctor's office. In fact, she explains she often requests to be weighed facing away from the scale, telling People, "Sometimes I flat-out refuse. I don't want it to ruin my day."

Couric also believes that the social pressure on girls and women to be thin, as perpetuated by the media, contributed to her eating disorder, telling People, "I think back on my formative years when Twiggy was all the rage and that period of time in the '60s. And there seemed to be an ideal body type, which was extremely thin."

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Katie Couric pursued a career in reporting right out of college

Katie Couric pursued a job in journalism directly after graduating from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in American studies. Her first job on television was for ABC, which she found exciting. As she later recalled to the Washingtonian, her first day on the job was nearly unbelievable, with legendary reporter and anchor Sam Donaldson "grabbing me on my first day and whisking me to the White House to watch a briefing." 

However, Couric also says, per the Washingtonian, that not everything about the job was perfect, and the tough hours made her contemplate leaving television altogether. As she explained, "I'd work 11 to 7 one day, 3 to 11 the next day, I'd work the overnight, and I worried it was a dead-end job."

After ABC, Couric moved on to a role at a CBS affiliate in Miami, Florida. In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Couric revealed how her first attempt at anchoring actually happened while in Miami. She explained, "It wasn't that I necessarily had aspirations to be an anchor, but I thought the more skills I had, the more marketable I would be." While the experience didn't go quite as well as she hoped, Couric did move on to work at CNN soon after.

In 1991, Katie Couric joined Today as a co-anchor

On April 4, 1991, Katie Couric made headlines in a major way when she was named co-anchor of the "Today" show after filling in as interim co-anchor following the departure of Deborah Norville. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, Norville had only been brought on to "Today" in January 1990, ostensibly to replace popular longtime host Jane Pauley. When Norville bowed out in February 1991 to go on maternity leave, Couric jumped at the chance to join the show on a full-time basis, bringing a ratings boost with her. 

A member of the management team at NBC praised the choice, telling the Los Angeles Times that Couric was a great replacement because "Katie's somebody you can get up in the morning with." For her part, Couric was just as excited to have the opportunity to shine as co-anchor, telling The Washington Post how the role was one she ranked quite high. "I'm very happy. It's one of the best jobs, if not the best job, in television."

Couric also praised Norville, explaining to The Washington Post that her predecessor had already taught her a lot, despite their work days not overlapping. As she put it, watching Norville navigate a sticky work situation was inspiring. She said, "I've learned from Deborah how to hold your head high and conduct yourself with dignity when nobody seems to be in your corner."

The TV journalist met her first husband while working on Today

Katie Couric and her first husband, Jay Monahan, reportedly met while she was working at the "Today" show. The pair were both living in Washington, D.C., where Monahan worked as a lawyer. They were married in a small wedding ceremony on January 24, 1989. The couple headed to New York when Couric became an on-air reporter, and Monahan even jumped into the media as well, coming on board as a legal analyst for NBC News (per Good Housekeeping).

In her 2021 memoir "Going There," Couric shares that when she met Monahan, she was pretty marriage-minded for someone in her 20s. She writes, "I was always very goal-oriented, both professionally and then when I turned 30, I was like, 'I better get married to find a nice husband.'" In fact, Couric even describes her pursuit of a potential husband as similar to how she approached her career (via Hollywood Life).

While promoting the book in October 2021, Couric described Monahan as "handsome, young, mischievous" (per People).

Losing her husband in 1998 was devastating for Katie Couric

Katie Couric was devastated when her husband, Jay Monahan, died in 1998. At the time, Couric and Monahan had only been married for nine years. Monahan died from colorectal cancer, a diagnosis Couric later admitted they never would have thought to have screened for at the time (via Today).

In her memoir "Going There," Couric writes extensively about losing her husband and how she came to terms with the fact she would lose him. She also admits she didn't feel ready to face death, explaining, "I think it takes extraordinary courage to be able to face death, and I think I was too scared, honestly" (per Today). Couric also worried she could have  done more to prevent his death, or, at least, to delay it.

However, Couric is also frank about problems the two faced in their union, especially when she began earning more than Monahan. She described the situation to People as "destabilizing" and admitted it "created some challenges for us."

Katie Couric and Jay Monahan had two children together

Katie Couric and her first husband, Jay Monahan, have two children together: Elinor, whom the pair welcomed in 1991, and Caroline, who was born in 1996. After Monahan's death at the age of 42, Couric was left to raise the pair's children on her own. She told Working Mother how this meant being intentional about her demanding work schedule, hopefully without limiting opportunities that could come her way. In 2012, she explained how she balanced it all, saying, "I try to limit the things I do at night and not travel too much. If I do have to be away for work, I make sure I'm home for the nights before I leave and build in plenty of time at home once I return."

In the interview, Couric also offered advice for other moms struggling to balance the demands of life, sharing that, even when it's hard, it's important to find time for yourself. She also gave some excellent advice to parents of older kids, especially teenagers, adding, "And remember, if you have a teen, don't take her words personally. If you did, you'd spend the whole day crying!"

The famed broadcast journalist signed a historic contract in 2001

Katie Couric hit a career milestone a few years after her first husband's death. In 2001, she signed a landmark $65 million contract with NBC. At the time, Couric had just marked 10 years on the "Today" show, and media insiders reportedly paid close attention to the moves she made. Per The Guardian, Couric knew everyone in the industry was watching, and she loved it. As the publication notes, a producer at NBC told the now-defunct Brill's Content, "She's reve[l]ing in the fact that everyone is on the edge of her seat about what she is going to do."

The colossal payout — which made Couric the highest-paid journalist ever in the history of news television – was spread over four-and-a-half years. The Guardian notes that Couric's new salary was even higher than those of broadcasting legends Barbara Walters and Tom Brokaw. While some might have been surprised by the sum, a producer at NBC rival CBS said he understood completely. Steve Friedman told The Guardian that the move was strategic, noting, "This was about protecting one of your crown jewels with one of your major talents."

In 2006, Katie Couric became the first woman to anchor a nightly news show

Katie Couric accomplished another major milestone in 2006 when she was named the first female solo anchor of a nightly news program. The move prompted Couric to leave the "Today" show after an impressive 15 years, but she later admitted she's not quite sure Americans were prepared to welcome a woman as a nightly news anchor.

Couric later explained to Today that her experience as such a beloved co-anchor on the show led her to believe she would similarly thrive as a nightly news anchor. Unfortunately, the reality was quite different. While she admitted she's unsure if the less-than-stellar public reaction was because she's a woman or because she's Katie Couric, she explained that she still believes the role can work for a woman. She said, "But I really went there to say a woman can do this job with confidence and competence, and that's really what motivated my decision."

Couric also told Today that one reason she left for CBS is simply because she enjoys new experiences. However, she thinks it's possible she still had too much of her old job in her, noting, "I think the problem is probably I didn't change enough when I went to CBS. I was more of a product of the TODAY show and NBC."

She married her second husband, John Molner, in 2014

Katie Couric married her second husband, Jay Molner, in June 2014 after a 10-month engagement. As related by The U.S. Sun, the two first met in 2012, after Couric asked a surgeon friend if she had knew any single doctors. The friend didn't, but she did know a single banker. By 2013, the two happily announced their engagement.

Couric and Molner dove into developing their professional lives together following their wedding. In 2017, they launched a short-lived cooking show on YouTube called "Full Plate with Katie & John" before moving on to other pursuits. The same year, they established Katie Couric Media.

Couric once told People she was deliberate when looking for another partner because she enjoyed marriage the first time around and desired another good experience. "It took me a long time [to marry again], because I loved being married and I love being married now," she explained, adding, "And I'm not a solitary person. I like company."

Katie Couric launched a National Geographic series in 2018

Katie Couric added another show to her repertoire in 2018 when she launched the six-part documentary series "America Inside Out" on National Geographic. The series, launched as an exploration of the divisions that exist within the U.S., is billed as an opportunity for Couric to "invite[s] her audience to ... hear directly from the people facing these challenges in the hopes that viewers can form a deeper understanding of the issues that seem to be tearing society apart" (per National Geographic).

The series showrunner, Jeanmarie Condon, praised the concept of the show, explaining to Realscreen that Couric was the ideal person to bridge the gaps that exist. As Condon explained, "These are issues that ultimately touch all of us in some way, and the idea was [to have] Katie go right into the center of what's happening." Tim Pastore, president of programming at National Geographic, also praised Couric, saying her talent as a journalist, especially her ability to listen to both sides of any story presented to her, would propel the show to success.

Her tell-all 2021 memoir was written in part for her daughters

Katie Couric released her memoir, "Going There," in late 2021, taking a chance to peel back the layers on her career and personal life. While the book is quite open about a lot of things, Couric has been clear it was written in large part to keep the father of her daughters alive for them. 

During an interview with Today, Couric explained that, because her daughters were only ages 6 and 2 when their father died, they don't have a lot of memories of him. "I dedicate it to Ellie and Carrie because I really wanted them to get to know the father they never got to know," Couric explained, "and they both called me in tears, and I think they're grateful for the book." Couric also shared that, per People, as painful as writing parts of the memoir were, it was also an experience that "reminded me of the sheer joy of starting out, starting our lives together."

Couric also explained why she hasn't opened up about her first husband's death in great detail before. As she relates, while Jay Monahan was in the hospital toward the end of his life, her own father reminded her of a simple truth: This was not her story to tell. "This was happening to Jay, not me, as my dad reminded me in the hospital. It was heartbreaking," she explained to Today.