New York Huskies

Robert Osborne, ’54: The face of Turner Classic Movies

For more than 20 years, Robert Osborne, ’54, has been the face of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) television network as its 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 a Hollywood Walk of Fame star now residing in New York is the product of rural Colfax, Washington. He attended the UW, studied journalism 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, ’55. “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, ’56. “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: The Official History of the Academy Awards,” 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. He has also hosted the annual Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival in Athens, Georgia, since 2005.

This fall, Osborne was inducted into the UW Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame. Read more about this award and other inductees.


Story adapted from “Face of TCM Robert Osborne (’54) Inducted into Alumni Hall of Fame” by Erica Thompson for the UW Department of Communication.