June Cross was born in New York City to aspiring white actress Norma Greve and Jimmy Cross, an African-American vaudeville entertainer known for playing “Stump” as a part of the black song-and-dance team “Stump and Stumpy.”
At the age of 4, when June Cross could no longer “pass” as “looking white,” she was sent to live with her mother’s African-American friends, Peggy and Paul Bush, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Cross spent her holidays and summers visiting with her mother in New York and later in California after she married Larry Storch, a well-known actor in a number of 1960s sitcoms.
Given the racial tensions of the time and the Hollywood spotlight of Norma Storch’s world, Cross would always be introduced as a niece or an adopted child.
Cross became interested in reporting at a young age, enthralled by the prospect of questioning strangers.
June Cross attended Radcliffe College and earned her B.A. degree in 1975.
After graduating, she worked at a number of prominent news sources, including the Boston Globe, CBS News, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and Frontline, covering various stories.
In 1983, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story about the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
Cross received a senior producer credit for Living on the Edge, Mandela, and School Colors, which won the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.
Cross is best known for her documentary about the trauma of her childhood, Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away, released by PBS in 1996.
This was the first time it was publicly revealed that Cross was the daughter of Norma Storch.
The documentary won an Emmy as well as a DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. A few years later, Secret Daughter was turned into a memoir.
In 2000, Cross accepted a teaching position with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York.
June Cross continued to produce a number of captivating reports, including “The Old Man and the Storm,” about a family living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
June Cross has been a fellow at Columbia’s Institute for Research in Afro-American Studies, at Carnegie-Mellon University’s School of Urban and Public Affairs, and at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies at Harvard.
In 2015, she received an honorary doctorate in humanities from Knox College in Illinois.
Her film, Wilhemina’s War, about a South Carolina grandmother fighting for access to health care for her family, aired on PBS’ Independent Lens in February 2016.
June Cross also produced the PBS FRONTLINE documentary about the effect of COVID-19 on the 2020 election.