My Robert Osborne Tribute
by Bob Jandoli
If you have read any of my columns here in Sharing Sentimental Journeys, you know that I write about the nostalgic times in my life, along with the events and moments that have affected it. In some cases, there were people whom I have admired and respected that have had an impact on me as well. Film historian, Robert Osborne was clearly one of them. Robert passed away last month at the age of 84, peacefully, in his sleep. He will be missed by so many of the stars and fans who loved him.
In my childhood, my father was my resident “film historian”; my dad loved the classic movies. He grew up during the depression when most people went to the movies for their entertainment. Not only because it was cheap, but because they saw and envisioned larger-than-life worlds and faraway places they could never truly go to. Movie stars, although only seen on the big screen, were like one of the family. My father’s generation knew everything about them and they admired and envied them. It was the “Golden Age”, and my father lived it. We would sit and watch a classic film and he would give his commentary throughout the entire movie. I learned so much from him, and he made me love them as much as he did.
I became a film historian because of my father, learning far more than he could ever imagine. After many years of his mentoring, I eventually became the teacher. As my dad grew older, his memory started to fade and it was I who became the family “go-to” for Hollywood trivia.
I first became aware of Robert Osborne in the early 1960’s. He was an interviewer of the stars and wrote articles telling of his experiences with them. I first saw him in the mid 1970’s, when he was a guest of the old Dinah Shore talk show. He was everything I wanted to be. I already was a film lover, but his love for the art brought him to much higher levels, and he immediately became my idol. Shortly thereafter, he joined the staff of the Hollywood Reporter as a writer, and later, in the 1980’s he introduced movies on The Movie Channel. It wasn’t until 1994 when Ted Turner asked Robert to be the host of what I think is the greatest thing on television: Turner Classic Movies. I now got to see and spend every day with my idol. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t sit and listen to his overtures to all the film classics that my dad and I would love so much. In essence, Mr. Osborne replaced my father as my real true film historian.
Most of my family and close friends know that I love the genre I am writing about, and I can and probably will write another story for a future SSJ column concerning this passion. But this month, this tribute is for Robert Osborne and the joy and knowledge that I experienced watching him all these years. My only regret is that I was never able to meet him, and although that didn’t happen, I still feel that he left a mark in my life that I will always cherish. It was because of men like Robert Osborne and my father – that because of their love and knowledge of the movies – I can easily be taken back to those days of The Golden Age and those faraway places filled with so many stars. Robert Osborne and the Turner Classic’s format have been my escape from the craziness of today’s world, especially on a warm winter night, snuggling up to the fireplace on a soft couch with a cup of hot chocolate. I am content, free and secure. Rest in Peace, Robert. Sit down with my dad in heaven; you’ll be pleasantly surprised of how much you great guys have in common.