Robert Osborne, who died March 6 at the age of 84, had been part of the Turner Classics Movie channel since its launch in 1994. In tribute to this long-time fan favorite, TCM is devoting this weekend (March 18 and 19) to replaying some of his highlights as an interviewer.
Among these will be episodes of “Private Screenings” with Debbie Reynolds, Liza Minnelli, Norman Jewison and Betty Hutton. Also featured will be the interview that his pal Alec Baldwin did with him on the occasion of the channel’s 20th anniversary in 2014.
Osborne also oversaw the annual TCM Classic Film Festival beginning in 2010 and TCM will air many of the interviews that he conducted there including those with Oscar winners Eva Marie Saint, Luise Rainer and Alan Arkin as well as honorary recipient Peter O’Toole.
This one-time actor, who got his start at Desilu under the tutelage of Lucille Ball in the late 1950s, turned to entertainment journalism in the 1970s. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oscars in 1978, the academy asked him to pen its official history. He updated it a decade later, and then every five years with the most recent version being released in 2013.
Osborne also wrote the “Rambling Reporter” column for The Hollywood Reporter for a quarter century (1984 – 2009). A one-time film critic for Fox 11 in Los Angeles, he served as president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. during the mid 1980s. He had hosted screenings on The Movie Channel for seven years beginning in 1986 until Ted Turner asked him to be part of his new channel devoted to old movies.
Osborne said then that being a host on TCM was his dream job. “I wanted to be apart of it; I just didn’t know where I fit in. I knew I couldn’t sing, I knew I couldn’t dance. I just lived in a small farm town in the Northwest. I didn’t know where I fit in. I was happy that Ted Turner started a channel and I got to be the guy. That was my great luck.”