Robert Osborne 1932 - 2017
Robert Osborne was the face of Turner Classic Movies for decades, hosting the regular broadcasts of old films on the cable network, talking about them and introducing them with interesting facts and trivia about movie production.
His hosting role wasn't a new invention, American Movie Classics had been doing the same thing since the 1980s, but Osborne and TCM took the packaging of old films for a new audience to a whole new level, eclipsing AMC and becoming the central hub for old films on television and in home video sales through licensing and packaging.
Osborne also frequently served as a host for the various festivals and other events sponsored by TCM, and appeared on movie screens throughout the country when Fathom Events would present single-night showings of classic movies being re-released to theatres.
His name also appeared on numerous books about old films, and his endorsement would often help an obscure film tome to stand out from the stacks of publications about classic cinema.
Osborne was a friendly personality on the screen, simultaneously dignified but personable, an affable American ambassador for vanished Hollywood.
"Osborne lived in New York but shot his TCM appearances at the cable network's headquarters in Atlanta. As TCM's primary on-air personality, Osborne occupied something of an unique position in the history of television: Where once it was common for channels to provide hosts for the movies they programmed, TCM is now the last U.S. movie network to regularly feature hosts who offer information about a film before it begins."
"Osborne made friends in Hollywood for his deep movie knowledge and his diplomatic style. He wrote the official history “85 Years of the Oscar” and defended the prize in a 2009 interview with me [Hal Boedeker].
“I basically think the Oscars always get it right for the time,” Osborne told me. “It's not fair to critique an Oscar-winner if you weren't there at the time. You don't know what people were going through.”
"His ingratiating personality and insider knowledge led to work as a host on The Movie Channel from 1986 to 1993. American Movie Classics tried to recruit him as a daytime host, but he accepted an offer from the upstart TCM because it featured more of the fare he treasured — from Marx Brothers comedies of the 1930s to later works by directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Mel Brooks. And it was a chance to work in prime time."
"Some time ago, in an interview with Alec Baldwin, Osborne attributed his success to luck. His encounter with Lucille Ball had been random, he said; her career advice led to his book, which led to freelance work, which led to a 40-year friendship with actress Olivia de Havilland. In the late 1970s De Havilland invited Osborne to accompany her to a tribute to Bette Davis where he not only met the star of All About Eve but also made the connections that would put him on television. Once he was on the small screen he never left. By the early 1980s the stars that had inspired him in his youth were beginning to fall ill. It was left to Osborne to appear on L.A. news channels and explain who Henry Fonda was and why he mattered."
Original Page March 2017
From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association