Have you watched TCM my cousin asked me. TCM what’s that. Turner Classic Movies. At that point in my life the answer was no. The station he pointed me too was the old Nostalgia network. I had seen some of the big band videos but even that was few and far between.
TCM and more specifically Robert Osborne changed that permanently. On Tuesday the man who was the contemporary world’s leading light into another era of larger than life stars, directors and moguls moved on to the other sound stage.
He was the nicest, most humble TV star I ever got to know, and call a friend, and his humility, I suspect, came easy because he knew his material. He knew so much, and so many Hollywood legends he’d chronicled over the decades.
How many TCM fans felt like they lost an uncle, or a brother, or a fellow cinephile, when they heard of his death Monday? (Robert’s longtime TCM producer Sean Cameron delivered the news that morning to the Atlanta TCM crew; in a quirk of timing, I was among them, filming a batch of guest-host introductions to be aired next month on TCM.)
“I get stopped on the street all the time,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2014. “People say: ‘You got me through cancer last year. You got me past unemployment. You take me away from my troubles.’ Exactly what movies did in the ’30s and ’40s.”