Robert Osborne, the face of Turner Classic Movies, died yesterday at 84 years old.


The cause of death of the veteran film historian has yet to be released, though he died in his sleep at home with his partner of 20 years David Staller. “It’s difficult to imagine a planet without him,” Staller said. “He made the choice to call it a day, and he wants everyone to know that he’ll see them at the after party.”

TCM announced his passing in a statement yesterday: “Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend,” said TCM general manager Jennifer Dorian. “His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encyclopedic knowledge of film history, fervent support of 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.”

Osborne was a host on TCM since its launch in 1994. He would begin his part with a casual, “Hi, I’m Robert Osborne,” and give viewers tons of movie information. Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales dubbed him “an avatar of erudition.”

Osbrone was also a longtime columnist for the Hollywood Reporter and was the “official biographer” of the Academy Awards. He wrote a series of books chronicling the awards show, and he chose to stick to the facts. “That goes back to a book I read a long time ago about movie musicals,” Osborne once said. “Whoever wrote it said Singin’ in the Rain was the best movie musical ever made. I thought it’s great, but what if I like The Band Wagon better? I found it insulting. I don’t think a writer’s opinion in this case is important.”

His first book, Academy Awards Illustrated, was published in 1965. He joined the Hollywood Reporter in ’77 and served as president of the LA Film Critics Association from ’81-’83. Osborne’s first stint in television was as a reporter in LA in 1982, and then in ’87 he became a regular contributor on CBS’s The Morning Program.

In addition to hosting TCM, Osborne aired his own “Private Screening” interviews, from Tony Curtis and Esther Williams, to Sidney Lumet and Liza Minelli. He co-hosted “The Essentials” and “Guest Programmer.” He even attended the annual TCM Film Cruise and mingled with other passengers, sharing his wealth of knowledge.

“For anyone who loves movies like I do, Turner Classic Movies will be like falling into paradise,” he said after being chosen as host in ’94.

Many in the Hollywood industry took to Twitter to share their condolences.

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