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Hoda Kotb pens emotional tribute on Today following the death of a beloved co-host

The star honored his legacy

The Today Show stars, including Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, and Craig Melvin, are reeling from the death of a beloved fellow Today host, one whose hiring onto the show made history at NBC studios.

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The co-hosts took a moment out of Monday morning's show to honor the legacy of Jim Hartz, who joined the Today Show in the mid-1970s alongside the legendary Barabra Walters to host the morning show.

Jim was 82 at the time of his passing. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1940, he died on 17 April in Fairfax County, Virginia.

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His wife, Alexandra Dickson Hartz, announced the cause of death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He is survived by his wife and their three children, John, Jana, and Nancy.

Hoda acknowledged just how important his time on the show was, having been the youngest correspondent NBC ever hired, in 1964 at the age of 24.

Ten years later, at 34, he succeeded Frank McGee when he joined Today, and though he held that position for only two years, he went on to have a multi-decade career until the 1990's.

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Jim during the 1976 New Hampshire Democractic Primary on 24 February, 1976

The Hoda & Jenna star highlighted Jim's "warm, laid back style," and though his reporting portfolio was expansive, having covered Richard Nixon's resignation amid the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam war, and Robert F. Kennedy's funeral, she revealed his one true passion within journalism went beyond national politics.

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She detailed how: "His real love was reporting on NASA space launches."

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Jim and Barbara hosting the iconic morning talk show

Per his New York Times obituary, he covered many space missions and: "He and the broadcast-news pioneer John Chancellor were co-announcers in 1971 during the Apollo 15 launch, which led to a three-day lunar visit by astronauts." He also co-wrote a book about space, Worlds Apart: How the Distance Between Science and Journalism Threatens America's Future with former astronaut Rick Chappell.

So strong was his passion that in a 1974 interview with The Christian Science Monitor, he endearingly admitted that "a NASA event was so overwhelming for him that afterward he would have no memory of what he had said on the air."

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