R.I.P. Robert Osborne, Host of Turner Classic Movies (1932-2017)
“Hello, I’m Robert Osborne.”
Film lovers of all ages took great comfort upon hearing these simple words, because they usually meant that you were watching Turner Classic Movies (“TCM” for short), and that you were about to be introduced to an important piece of cinema by one of the most respectable hosts on television. But they’re words we won’t be hearing anymore. Robert Osborne has died at the age of 84.
Robert Osborne got his start in the industry as an actor, appearing on TV shows like the hit comedy The Beverly Hillbillies. Robert Osborne co-starred in the pilot episode of sitcom, which aired for nine seasons from 1962 to 1971, but opted out of the series and chose to focus on commercials instead.
Soon, Robert Osborne switched his focus to writing. His book Academy Awards Illustrated was published in 1965, and eventually he started writing a regular column at Hollywood Reporter. His second book about the Academy Awards, 50 Golden Years of Oscar, was published in 1978.
Robert Osborne hosted movies at The Movie Channel in 1984, but it was his work at Turner Classic Movies that made him a household name. Robert Osborne became the face of the network in 1994, introducing new generations to classic films with enthusiastic and insightful commentary, placing older films in their historical contexts, detailing behind-the-scenes stories and adding amusing trivia.
The movies could always stand on their own, but anyone who ever watched Turner Classic Movies knew that Robert Osborne’s contributions were invaluable. He helped turn one of the last bastions of quality on cable television into a personable experience, a gathering of likeminded fans instead of a perfunctory presentation of programming. And although he has passed the mantle on to hosts like Ben Mankiewicz and Tiffany Vazquez, he will remain the face of the network for everybody who grew up with him, and everyone who ever saw a great movie for the very first time, accompanied by his commentary.
Robert Osborne was an invaluable member of the entertainment industry, who played a key role in folks like myself becoming film critics. He will be missed.
Top Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.