Sanders was also the mother of CNN and New Yorker journalist Jeffrey Toobin, who announced that she died Tuesday on his Facebook page.
"A pioneering television journalist — the first network newswoman to report from Vietnam, among many other firsts — she informed and inspired a generation," Toobin wrote. "Above all, though, she was a great mom."
Sanders was a producer for the late Mike Wallace in the early stages of his career. She wrote, reported and produced news and documentaries for WNEW-TV in New York before joining ABC News in 1964. She worked there for 14 years.
She was the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast in 1964 when she filled in for Ron Cochran. She reported from Vietnam in 1966 and later became the first woman to be a vice-president at ABC News, where she was head of the network's documentary unit.
She moved to CBS News in 1978, where she also wrote and produced documentaries. She often reported and wrote on the women's movement, and closely followed the status of women in her own industry, said James Goldston, ABC News president.
Sanders co-authored a book, "Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News" and taught at both New York University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
"Marlene Sanders got there first," Bill Moyers said. "That women are finally recognized as first-rate professionals is due in no small part to the path-breaking courage of Marlene Sanders."