Society

Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies Host, Dies

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Robert Osborne, longtime host of Turner Classic Movies, has died at the age of 84.

The film historian, whose cause of death has not been released, has been on Turner Classic Moves since its on-air debut in April 1994, CNN notes.

"All of us at Turner Classic Movies are deeply saddened by the death of Robert Osborne," Jennifer Dorian, general manager of Turner Classic Movies, said. "He joined us as an expert on classic film and grew to be our cherished colleague and esteemed ambassador for TCM."

Osborne began his career as an actor, and had a contract with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at their Desilu Studios, according to his official website. His credits include "The Man With Bogart's Face," an episode of "The Whirlybirds," and stage productions. Ball encouraged him to seriously pursue writing, "especially after she saw me act," Osborne is quoted as saying. He considered her suggestion to be the best career advice he ever received. Until her death in 1989, Ball was a friend and mentor of Osborne's.

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In addition to his work at Turner Classic Movies, Osborne is well-known for being the official biographer of the Oscars because of numerous books he has written on the motion picture industry's annual Academy Awards.

In 2006, Osborne received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As news of his death was made public, Hollywood reacted.

"It was evident to anybody who watched Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies that his knowledge about Hollywood and film was second to none," longtime friend Liza Minnelli told Deadline. "He was an indispensable guide to viewers who tuned in every day to hear his thoughts. Often, if I couldn't remember the name of an actor or a particular film, I'd ring him up and he'd instantly know the answer."

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"I was saddened by the death of Robert Osborne, a remarkable and special man," actress Eva Marie Saint told Deadline in a statement. "I have wonderful memories of being interviewed by him and answering his insightful questions. Robert was an endearing and talented man. He brought so much joy to people around the world by sharing his knowledge and love of film. I will miss him dearly."

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences expressed its sadness over losing Osborne via its Facebook page: "The Academy is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved friend Robert Osborne. An Oscars historian, he worked tirelessly to document our organization's rich history, and he was our gracious greeter on the Academy Awards red carpet for several years. The affection he had for the Oscars and the Academy was wholeheartedly reciprocated, and we are grateful for his friendship and indelible contribution to film history and our community."

On Twitter, celebrities shared their feelings on losing the film historian.

"I loved him so much, [heart] is broken. I knew he wouldn't come back, but still hoped. It hasn't been the same, without him, nor will it ever be," Cher wrote.

"Robert Osbourne: One of a Kind. No one can or will ever replace him," Leonard Maltin tweeted.

"Oh No. A truly decent, funny, & intelligent man. Loved film and made others excited about it. Was lucky to have met him," Patton Oswalt shared.

Dorian credits Osborne with building Turner Classic Movies' popularity.

"Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend," Dorian said, according to CNN. "His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encyclopedic knowledge of film history, fervent support for film preservation and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a truly world-class host."

"Robert's contributions were fundamental in shaping TCM into what it is today and we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid," she added.

Sources: CNN, Robert Osborne, Deadline, The Academy/Facebook, Cher/Twitter, Leonard Maltin/Twitter, Patton Oswalt/Twitter / Photo credit: Ted Sullivan/Twitter

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