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Hollywood Historian And TCM Host, Robert Osborne, Dies At 84

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The longtime host of Turner Classic Movies has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT OSBORNE: Hi, I'm Robert Osborne. Our next movie has often been called actually the greatest movie ever made. The film is "Citizen Kane."

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Osborne was a film historian, an affable tour guide who, for more than 20 years, escorted movie fans through the golden age of Hollywood. He sprinkled in lots of interesting facts along the way. Bob Mondello is NPR's film critic.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: He was encyclopedic. You know, I'm supposed to know something about movies. And when I watched him, I never failed to learn something that I didn't know about the classic movie that he was talking about.

GREENE: If he was teaching Bob Mondello something, that is saying something.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

GREENE: In addition to hosting Turner Classic Movies, Osborne wrote The Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column for more than 25 years. He also wrote several books on the Academy Awards.

MARTIN: Osborne not only loved classic movies, he was in a few of them. As a struggling actor, he had bit parts in "Psycho" and "Spartacus." He even appeared in the pilot episode of TV's "The Beverly Hillbillies."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES")

OSBORNE: (As Jeff Taylor) I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Drysdale.

RAYMOND BAILEY: (As Milburn Drysdale) Well, are we all set to give the Clampetts a red-carpet reception?

OSBORNE: (As Jeff Taylor) Well, I'm afraid Mrs. Drysdale still isn't too happy, sir.

GREENE: Now, despite being mentored by Lucille Ball, Osborne's acting career did not exactly take off. But his work as a host and historian earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

MARTIN: Robert Osborne died yesterday in New York. He was 84 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS CLARK'S PLEEN 1930S) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.