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Robert Osborne

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New York, New York

Robert Osborne



TCM Host

Turner Classic Movies

Years active

Robert Osborne cdnsixthmannet2011tcmimagesmarqueerobertos

Full Name
Robert Jolin Osborne

May 3, 1932 (
Colfax, Washington United States

Alma mater
University of Washington

Home town
Whitman County, Washington

Movies and TV shows
Private Screenings, Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer

Academy awards illustrated

Similar People
Ben Mankiewicz, Maureen O'Hara, Norma Shearer, Jeff Sherman, William Castle

University of Washington

Robert osborne s early career

Robert Jolin Osborne (; May 3, 1932 – March 6, 2017) was an American actor, film historian, television presenter, and author, best known for more than twenty years as the primary host of the cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Prior to TCM, Osborne had been a host on The Movie Channel, and, earlier, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. Osborne also wrote the official history of the Academy Awards, originally published in 1988, and most recently revised in 2013.


Robert osborne honors angela lansbury at the 2013 governors awards

Early life

Osborne was born on May 3, 1932, in the small town of Colfax, Washington, where he was raised. His parents were Robert Eugene Osborne, a public school teacher, and Hazel Ida (née Jolin). Osborne graduated from the University of Washington School of Journalism in 1954.


Osborne began his career working as a contract actor for Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball's Desilu Studios. There, Osborne became part of Lucille Ball's Desilu Workshop, in which Ball worked with and nurtured such young performers as Osborne and actress-singer Carole Cook.

One of Osborne's early television appearances was in a 1959 episode of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse called "Chain of Command", starring Hugh O'Brian. He was also featured in the Christmas Day Desilu Playhouse installment "The Desilu Revue" in December 1959. He also had small roles in such TV shows as The Californians and the 1962 pilot episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, "The Clampetts Strike Oil" (in the role of Jeff Taylor). He refrained from signing on for the series, however; not thinking the show would be a success, Robert, instead, focused his attention on acting in television commercials.

Ball suggested that Osborne focus his energies on becoming a journalist, as he would often quip, "especially after she saw me act". After The Beverly Hillbillies, Osborne would focus more on writing and journalism. In 1965, Osborne had his first book published, Academy Awards Illustrated.

In 1977, Osborne began his long-standing stint as a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. The following year, he published 50 Golden Years of Oscar, which won the 1979 National Film Book award. Having joined the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, he was elected its president in 1981, and served as such till 1983. In 1982, Osborne began a five-year stint as the entertainment reporter on KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles. In addition, he began his Rambling Reporter column for The Hollywood Reporter, published five times weekly.

In 1984, Osborne began hosting for The Movie Channel, as well as winning the Publicists Guild of America 1984 Press Award. The following year, he began a relationship with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), when he hosted a tribute to Shirley Temple at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. In 1988, AMPAS commissioned him to write 60 Years of the Oscar; he later wrote five updates to the volume, the latest being 85 Years of the Oscar in 2013.

In 1994, Ted Turner created Turner Classic Movies as a competitor to American Movie Classics (now known as AMC). Osborne was selected as the host of their nightly broadcasts. For TCM, in addition to hosting four primetime movies seven days a week, he was also the host of special one-on-one "Private Screening" interviews featuring many familiar actors and directors. Beginning in 2006, Osborne also co-hosted TCM's The Essentials. His co-hosts were Molly Haskell from 2006 to 2007, Carrie Fisher from 2007 to 2008, Rose McGowan from 2008 to 2009, Alec Baldwin from 2009 to 2011, Drew Barrymore and finally Sally Field.

Osborne also participated in events at the Paley Center for Media in New York City saluting the television careers of Lucille Ball and Cloris Leachman. Beginning in 2005, Osborne hosted the annual "Robert Osborne's Classic Film Festival" in Athens, Georgia. The non-profit event is held by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. In 2010, Osborne hosted the very first TCM Classic Film Festival, and participated in subsequent annual festivals.

In 2011, Osborne became ill and TCM announced that Osborne would be taking "a short break from his TCM hosting duties for minor surgery, followed by a vacation." Osborne continued to appear on Saturday nights, hosting "The Essentials" with Alec Baldwin. In 2012, Osborne began to share some of his hosting duties with Ben Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz hosts primetime films two nights a week as well as many daytime events. Osborne stated that he will continue to work “as long as I have health, and as long as I think I look O.K. on camera.” He also said, “If I really couldn’t do it with enthusiasm, that would be the time to quit.”

In 2014, as part of an exclusive programming deal with Disney, TCM agreed to become the sponsor of The Great Movie Ride. The attraction underwent a refurbishment in 2015, with the addition of a new pre-show and post-show hosted by Osborne, who also provides onboard narration to the ride. The changes were unveiled on May 29, 2015.


Osborne retired from the air in early 2016 due to ill-health and missed a number of TCM annual events over the next year. Osborne died at his New York City apartment in the Osborne on West 57th Street on Monday, March 6, 2017, from natural causes. He was 84.

Personal life

Osborne had moved to New York City in the late 1980s. During his lifetime, few details of his personal life were reported, but upon his death it was confirmed that he had been in a 20-year relationship with stage director and producer David Staller; it was Staller who confirmed Osborne's death to the media.

Awards and honors

Osborne won the Publicists Guild of America 1984 Press Award. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art University in 2005, and was awarded a star at Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. In 2007, he received the National Board of Review's William K. Everson Award.

In January, 2016, Osborne was given the inaugural William Cameron Menzies Award from the Art Directors Guild, recognizing his 35 years as a film historian, columnist and critic championing visual entertainment.



  • Academy Awards Illustrated. ESE California. 1965. ISBN 978-0912076041. 
  • Hollywood Legends: The Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo. Marvin Miller. 1967. ASIN B0075MDDA0. 
  • Academy Awards Oscar Annual. ESE California. 1971–1976. 
  • Best Actor Oscar Winners Since 1927. ESE California. 1977. ISBN 978-0912076034. 
  • Best Picture Oscar Winners Since 1927. ESE California. 1977. ISBN 978-0912076058. 
  • Best Actress Oscar Winners. ESE California. 1977. ISBN 978-0912076027. 
  • 50 Golden Years of Oscar. ESE California. 1978. ISBN 978-0912076300. 
  • 60 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Equation. 1988. ISBN 978-1853361463. 
  • 65 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. 1994. ISBN 978-1558597150. 
  • 70 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. 1999. ISBN 978-0789204844. 
  • 75 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0789207876. 
  • 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0789209924. 
  • 85 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. 2013. ISBN 978-0789211422. 
  • Osborne, Robert; Foreman, Alexa L.; Peltason, Ruth A.; Vieira, Mark A. (2004). In the Picture: Production Stills from the TCM Archives. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811844161. 
  • Forewords

  • Edwards, Dianna (2003). Picture Show: Classic Movie Posters from the TCM Archives. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811841542. 
  • Carlyle, John (2006). Under the Rainbow: An Intimate Memoir of Judy Garland, Rock Hudson and My Life in Old Hollywood. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0786720344. 
  • Turner Classic Movies (2006). Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811854672. 
  • Turner Classic Movies (2006). Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811852487. 
  • Miller, Frank (2008). Leading Couples: The Most Unforgettable Screen Romances of the Studio Era. Introduction by Robert Osborne. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811863018. 
  • Arnold, Jeremy (2016). The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Running Press. ISBN 978-0762459469.
  • References

    Robert Osborne Wikipedia

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