Face of TCM Robert Osborne (’54) inducted into Alumni Hall of Fame

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For more than 20 years, Robert Osborne (B.A., 1954) has been the face of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) television network as the primetime host and anchor. Since the show first aired in 1994, Osborne has been vital to the TCM brand and an accustomed presence to families around the world.

Last year, New York Times writer Dan Barry called him a “one-of-a-kind cinematic savant, cramming delectable tidbits into brief intros and outros, dissecting films with guests and conducting intimate interviews with stars of a certain age.” Osborne has also been written about in many other publications, like the Washington Post, and has interviewed countless film icons, including Lauren Bacall, Shirley MacLaine, Mickey Rooney, and Tony Curtis.

One might not expect that this prominent figure now residing in New York with his own Hollywood Walk of Fame star is the product of rural Colfax, Washington. He studied journalism at the University of Washington and was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

“He has become recognized as the leading authority on movies and a familiar face in most American living rooms,” said former fraternity brother Ted Van Dyk (B.A., 1955). “On top of that, it should be said, he is a good human being who is modest and, unlike many in Hollywood, does not take himself too seriously. He is respected for that in an industry of huge egos and narcissism.”

After graduating and serving in the Air Force, Osborne moved to Los Angeles. He had a short stint in acting and then worked for many years as a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter covering all aspects of the movie, television, and Broadway worlds.

“He is a major historian and chronicler of the motion picture industry,” said Osborne’s DU ‘Little Brother’ Doug Ramsey (B.A., 1956). “As a primary columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, he illustrated public understanding of an important sector of American cultural life and the economy.”

Osborne is also known as the official biographer of Oscar because of the series of books he’s written on the subject of the motion picture industry’s annual Academy Awards – his latest being “80 Years Of The Oscar,” which was written at the request of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. Since 2006, he has been the official red carpet greeter at the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

Although Robert Keatley (B.A., 1956) has not met Osborne, he said Osborne is deserving of being recognized for his role as a preservationist in helping conserve old films “because movies are such an important part of 20th century American culture.”

Keatley said he has seen TCM broadcast in many places, such as Hong Kong and Bhutan. More locally, Osborne is one of the investors of the Rose Theater in Port Townsend. Since 2005, Osborne has hosted the annual Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival in Athens, Georgia.

On October 1, Osborne will join the ranks of former fraternity brothers Van Dyk and Ramsey, and admirer Keatley, as he is inducted into the UW Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame.

For more details about the event or to read about other 2015 inductees, click here.