Post by Ryan Pumroy
Like many, I was deeply saddened to learn Robert Osborne had passed away earlier this month. It is comforting to see all of the tributes in the media and on social media. A humble man, Bob probably would have thought it all too much.
Bob was born in 1932 in rural Washington. He studied journalism in college, but tried to make a career in acting. He has a few television and film credits from the 1950s and early 1960s. Lucille Ball was his original mentor, and Bob credited her with urging him to focus on writing. He worked for The Hollywood Reporter for more than 20 years as a reporter, columnist, and critic, plus he has written several books about the Academy Awards.
But he’s probably best known as the face of Turner Classic Movies. Since 1994, Bob hosted TCM, introducing films and interviewing stars and filmmakers.
The closest thing to a catchphrase was his warm, unassuming introduction: “Hi, I’m Robert Osborne.” Bob would then spend a few minutes talking about the film, its stars, and the time in which it was made. Take a look at his intro and outro for Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950):
These are just two brief examples displaying Bob’s passions. He loved Classic Hollywood. He loved the movies. He loved the stars. Bob was a nostalgic man. While many didn’t care about movies gone by, or the “has-beens” from the ’30s and ’40s still inhabiting Hollywood, Bob did.
In 2013, Bob presented an honorary Oscar to Angela Lansbury, honoring her long career and contributions. His speech is delivered with class, grace, intelligence, and reverence — all qualities which describe him well.
He understood that when we remember the past, we are remembering part of ourselves.
Now, we remember Bob Osborne.
Ryan Pumroy is an advisor and occasional instructor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University. He is the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of The 2 Shot. His other writings have appeared in The Journal of Popular Culture and In Media Res.