Robert Osborne – American Film Institute

Life and Work

In March 1977, Robert Osborne was a Hollywood newcomer with an encyclopedic knowledge about film history and an insatiable hunger to learn more. One month earlier, Osborne landed an interview with his most beloved star, Olivia de Havilland. Shortly after the interview, Osborne was shocked by a surprise call from the illustrious actress inviting him to escort her to the AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony for Bette Davis. Upon arrival, he learned that he had been seated at Ms. Davis’ table. The evening would leave an indelible mark on the young journalist, introducing him to the glamour and prestige of Hollywood. Soon after, Osborne officially joined the staff of The Hollywood Reporter to become a daily columnist from 1982-2009 with the “Rambling Reporter” series, as well as a reviewer for movies and Broadway plays.

When Turner Classic Movies (TCM) made its cable television debut in 1994, Osborne was the channel’s premier primetime host and he remained the face of TCM until his retirement in 2016. Osborne’s extensive historical research and numerous books about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscar® awards resulted in his eminent status as the official biographer of the Oscars® and his role as the official red carpet greeter at the awards ceremonies. Osborne and de Havilland continued a close friendship with weekly meetings or phone calls until Osborne’s death in 2017. Every year, Osborne celebrated the day she invited him to AFI’s Life Achievement Award.