Robert Osborne, the longtime host of TCM, passed away today. He was 84 years old.
I write those words with the heaviest of hearts. I never met Robert Osborne. I did not actually know Robert Osborne but, like a lot of classic film lovers, I felt as if I did.
Usually, I am not the most patient of film watchers. When I show up for a movie, I want the movie to start as quickly as possible. In theaters, I’m usually the one who is cursing under her breath during the whole spiel about how to safely exit in case of a fire. I once got in trouble in a film class when the professor heard me muttering, “Shut up and start the movie.”
But, whenever I watched a movie on TCM, I always made sure to watch Osborne’s introduction. It didn’t matter what movie he was introducing. Over the years, I watched Robert Osborne introduce everything from acclaimed Oscar winners to quirky grindhouse features. And, without fail, his introductions always made the viewing experience better. It wasn’t just that he was knowledgeable. It wasn’t just that he was erudite. It was that he loved the films as much as I did. Robert Osborne was just as happy to introduce a film directed by Jess Franco as he was to introduce one directed by William Wyler. Regardless of genre, regardless of director, regardless of reputation, Osborne treated all films and all filmmakers with equal respect. Today’s film community, so full of elitism and willful ignorance, could stand to learn a little from Robert Osborne.
I’m going to miss Robert Osborne. In many ways, he was the mentor that every film lover wishes that they could have had.
Don’t get me wrong. I will never stop watching TCM and Ben Mankiewicz is a wonderful host in his own right.
But I will never forget Robert Osborne and I imagine that I’ll never watch or discover another film on TCM without missing him and his articulate love for the movies.