Robert Osborne Dies: Beloved Turner Classic Movies Host Was 84

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You may not recognize the name Robert Osborne, but if you're a fan of the Turner Classic Movies network, you almost certainly recognize his face.

For 23 years, Osborn was the face of TCM, the number one cable destination for lovers of Old Hollywood and budding young filmmakers alike.

A respected film historian and preservationist, Osborne was hand-selected by Ted Turner when the network launched in 1994.

Robert Osborn and Debbie Reynolds

He was on the air to introduce the network's very first film, Gone With the Wind, on April 14, 1994.

"Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend," TCM general manager Jennifer Dorian said in a statement released moments ago.

"His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encyclopedia knowledge of film history, fervent support of film preservation and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a truly world-class host."

Dorian added:

"Robert's contributions were fundamental in shaping TCM into what it is today, and we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid."

Robert Osborne Image

In addition to his time at TCM, Osborne worked as a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter for several decades.

His "Rambling Reporter" column ran in the magazine from 1983 to 2009 and was considered a must-read amongst industry insiders.

Tributes to Osborne began pouring in on social media within minutes of the announcement of this death, thus making the beloved TV icon a worldwide trending topic within minutes:

"Very sad to hear about Robert Osborne passing. I programmed on TCM with him in 2015 & it was a treat. He couldn't have been more charming," tweeted filmmaker Edgar Wright.

Robert Osborne Pic

"Robert Osborne was a class act, a true gentleman & his historical nuggets as TCM host made watching those great old movies even better. RIP," wrote Larry King.

"All of us are better for having known him - I know I am," said Osborne's longtime co-star Ben Mankiwiecz.

"So saddened by the death of Robert Osborne of @tcm. He helped spark my interest in classic films. He was a special man," tweeted Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak.

One Twitter user suggested perhaps the best method of paying tribute to a man whose life was so fully devoted to the cinema:

"I think the best way to honor the life of Robert Osborne is to watch as many classic films as possible. Going to start right now. "

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