Nancy J. Levine, 85, former executive assistant to the original “Today” show anchor Dave Garroway from 1952 to 1961, died May 11 at her home in Chicago.

She had Alzheimer’s disease, said her son Daniel Levine.

Mrs. Levine handled a number of responsibilities as Garroway’s right hand from 1952 to 1961, including attending to the occasional care and feeding of Garroway’s “co-host,” the NBC chimpanzee mascot J. Fred Muggs.

She met her future husband, longtime NBC News correspondent Irving R. Levine, at the NBC studio in New York. He was the first American television reporter to be accredited in what was then the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was the network’s first full-time economics correspondent. The Levines were married in 1957.

Mrs. Levine accompanied her husband on reporting assignments in Moscow and Rome before settling in Washington in 1971, when he was named NBC’s chief economics correspondent.

Nancy Cartmell Jones, a New York City native, was a 1949 English graduate of Columbia University. She wrote a number of articles for a variety of magazines, including Ladies Home Journal, about her experiences in Russia, said her son Daniel.

After her husband died in 2009, Mrs. Levine moved to Chicago.

Survivors include three children, Jennifer Levine of Washington and Jeffrey Levine and Daniel Levine, both of Chicago; and four grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough