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Robert Osborne's passing

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I looked earlier on wiki to see if his cause of death was listed (currently it is not).

 

But I thought it was interesting to see him listed as an LGBT writer:

 

 

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Wikipedia lists as "partner" David Staller. I didn't have the patience to check through all of the revision edits to see when that was added, but I have a very STRONG feeling it was not listed before yesterday. Robert was of the older more closeted generation who kept their private lives private. Most who are "out" these days either were part of the liberation if they are his age, married heterosexually and only lived their own lives after they became comfortable or are much younger, benefiting from all of the social progress. (Not that the progress is complete since the GOP is in power and can easily remove many constitutional rights if they so desire.)

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Wikipedia lists as "partner" David Staller. I didn't have the patience to check through all of the revision edits to see when that was added, but I have a very STRONG feeling it was not listed before yesterday. Robert is of the older more closeted generation who kept their private lives private. Most who are "out" these days either were part of the liberation if they are his age or much younger, benefiting from all of the social progress. (Not that the progress is complete since the GOP is in power and can easily remove many constitutional rights if they so desire.)

 

I didn't click on the edits section. I was also wondering when the LGBT writer tag was added, and figured it was yesterday after Robert's death was announced. For all we know, a relative or close friend may have added it.

 

I agree that for some there may be generational attitudes involved in staying closeted. But if a partner is significantly older or significantly younger, then a couple may not be defined by one specific generational viewpoint. 

 

As most know, Robert's health issues were kept very private. Though usually a cause of death becomes public knowledge. And now, it would seem, so does one's romantic life.

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Robert Osborne will be greatly missed.

 

His knowledge was astonishing.

 

He was also extremely personable.

 

RIP, Mr. Osborne.

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Robert Osborne will be greatly missed.

 

His knowledge was astonishing.

 

He was also extremely personable.

 

RIP, Mr. Osborne.

 

I agree, Ray. People will miss him on TCM for a long time to come.

 

I just found an article published by the Advocate magazine that discusses Robert's life and mentions David Staller:

 

http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2017/3/06/tcm-host-robert-osborne-dead-84-survived-same-sex-partner

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I was glad to see this thread here, since there is a bit of a stir at the moment on the General Discussions thread about Robert's partner having been introduced into the discussion, with some insinuations that it was inappropriate and classless to do so. I simply can't imagine that Robert Osborne would object to us sharing our sympathies with the person he himself loved most and to see others objecting on his "behalf" bothers me more than I can say.

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The Washington Post, LA Times, and other papers mentioned RO's partner as well, in the obits, as they should. It's customary to mention the next of kin in obits and in tributes. And RO's partner is clearly specified in his Wikipedia entry.

 

What concerns me -- I didn't want to mention it in the other thread, because someone said "let's get back to the tributes" and someone else wrote "it's disrespectful to mention it" (I think RO would be horrified at that last remark)-- is that there seem to be those here who are uncomfortable with the fact that TCM's very own icon was gay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Washington Post, LA Times, and other papers mentioned RO's partner as well, in the obits, as they should. It's customary to mention the next of kin in obits and in tributes. And RO's partner is clearly specified in his Wikipedia entry.

 

What concerns me -- I didn't want to mention it in the other thread, because someone said "let's get back to the tributes" and someone else wrote "it's disrespectful to mention it" (I think RO would be horrified at that last remark)-- is that there seem to be those here who are uncomfortable with the fact that TCM's very own icon was gay.

 

Yes, I completely agree. And I think it's disrespectful to David (Robert's partner) to act like he doesn't exist and cannot be mentioned as we all mourn the loss of a great man who meant as much, if not more, to him.

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The Washington Post, LA Times, and other papers mentioned RO's partner as well, in the obits, as they should. It's customary to mention the next of kin in obits and in tributes. And RO's partner is clearly specified in his Wikipedia entry.

 

What concerns me -- I didn't want to mention it in the other thread, because someone said "let's get back to the tributes" and someone else wrote "it's disrespectful to mention it" (I think RO would be horrified at that last remark)-- is that there seem to be those here who are uncomfortable with the fact that TCM's very own icon was gay.

Like it somehow sullies the discussion of his life and career. There are still plenty of people who are "OK" with others being gay as long as they themselves don't have to go on record and be part of the discussion.

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Like it somehow sullies the discussion of his life and career. There are still plenty of people who are "OK" with others being gay as long as they themselves don't have to go on record and be part of the discussion.

Only a genuinely gay man could have appreciated film in the way that he did - and only a genuinely gay man could have known so much about film.

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Mr Osbourne came from an older generation which kept their private life private- but I do wish he would have come out when he was still living.  He will be missed- interesting in the NY Times obit not surviving family members are listed but in the Daily News his partner is mentioned from the start. Mr Osbourne will be greatly missed I hope he is having a good time reuniting with all the Hollywood royalty in heaven

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I hadn't realized that there was some sort of controversy in the Tribute thread. I missed that section of the discussion, and went back and read it after seeing this thread. The reaction was sad, to say the least. People acted like mentioning Osborne being gay was some sort of bad-taste insult. Pathetic, and a few of the offended people are regulars around here that I would have expected more from. 

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I hadn't realized that there was some sort of controversy in the Tribute thread. I missed that section of the discussion, and went back and read it after seeing this thread. The reaction was sad, to say the least. People acted like mentioning Osborne being gay was some sort of bad-taste insult. Pathetic, and a few of the offended people are regulars around here that I would have expected more from. 

 

Robert was still the same Robert regardless of whom he enjoyed comfort and affection with. He didn't suddenly change into Mister Potato Head just because there was a David involved.

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When I discovered TCM and started watching, I found myself enjoying movies I never thought would interest me. I credit Robert Osborne for making the viewing experience more than just about watching a film. His presentation of a films development, actors, director, backstory, etc. gave films meaning, casting them in a new light for the viewer. I have missed his insight over the last couple of years. He was always upbeat and had something positive to say about every film whether it be an Oscar winner or a B short. That his personal life was his own shouldn't be an issue, nor should it matter to the TCM followers that he was gay. We should all send best wishes to his partner David. Robert was an encyclopedic film historian who excelled at his craft, who made viewers interested in films, and who happened to be gay.  He left some big shoes to fill at TCM.

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When I discovered TCM and started watching, I found myself enjoying movies I never thought would interest me. I credit Robert Osborne for making the viewing experience more than just about watching a film. His presentation of a films development, actors, director, backstory, etc. gave films meaning, casting them in a new light for the viewer. I have missed his insight over the last couple of years. He was always upbeat and had something positive to say about every film whether it be an Oscar winner or a B short. That his personal life was his own shouldn't be an issue, nor should it matter to the TCM followers that he was gay. We should all send best wishes to his partner David. Robert was an encyclopedic film historian who excelled at his craft, who made viewers interested in films, and who happened to be gay.  He left some big shoes to fill at TCM.

 

Great post.    With regards to 'and who happened to be gay';   I do wonder if RO being gay made actresses like Lucile Ball,  Olivia de Havilland and others feel more comfortable with him and this lead to their close friendship.     Yea, this is a rather cliché and dated concept but it might apply here.    Of course RO was such a decent and compassionate individual so maybe this cliché' had no impact. 

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Great post.    With regards to 'and who happened to be gay';   I do wonder if RO being gay made actresses like Lucile Ball,  Olivia de Havilland and others feel more comfortable with him and this lead to their close friendship.     Yea, this is a rather cliché and dated concept but it might apply here.    Of course RO was such a decent and compassionate individual so maybe this cliché' had no impact.

He really was unique

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Like it somehow sullies the discussion of his life and career. There are still plenty of people who are "OK" with others being gay as long as they themselves don't have to go on record and be part of the discussion.

 

LOL. True.

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Re-watching the Osborne tribute I really do wish he had written an honest biography- perhaps he was too classy to air his celebrity friends dirty laundry- but his personal story as gay man growing up in a small town to Hollywood must have been fascinating

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He would have just entered his twenties at the height of the Cold War witch hunts when Eisenhower/McCarthy's "pink scare" in Washington DC started having a trickling effect on Hollywood. This was the era when all the tabloids were greedy for gossip and even Rock Hudson had to marry for convenience. Since he wanted some success as an actor, he had to be very cautious.

 

However I do feel... and this is just my personal feeling... that he could have "come out" during the last decade or so. You reach a certain age when most of the family members whom you are most concerned about are either too old or already deceased for it to even matter. Who is going to attack you when you are in your seventies and eighties?

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However I do feel... and this is just my personal feeling... that he could have "come out" during the last decade or so. You reach a certain age when most of the family members whom you are most concerned about are either too old or already deceased for it to even matter. Who is going to attack you when you are in your seventies and eighties?

 

I thought about this while I was watching the Private Screenings with Osborne and Alec Baldwin. During the interview, Osborne mentioned how TCM had provided a cinematic safe haven for people who were put off by modern film's darker stories or more "morally objectionable" subject matter. I think one reason Osborne may have kept his "private life private" may have been him not wanting to risk alienating some of the older, more conservative audience of TCM. You saw the reaction his orientation had in the memorial thread. 

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I look at many old movies aired on TCM and find plenty that is "morally objectionable" such as constant killings, constant playing with guns, heavy smoking and drinking, chaotic car driving, stereotypes of minorities (and who must always address the Caucasians in power as Mister or Mrs while answering to their first names as children) and a long laundry list of other things that only "the older, more conservative audience of TCM" would not be disturbed by. Granted, when TCM aired I Am Curious, Yellow in the wee hours of the night, there was plenty of commentary among that group even though it was way past their bed time.

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I look at many old movies aired on TCM and find plenty that is "morally objectionable" such as constant killings, constant playing with guns, heavy smoking and drinking, chaotic car driving, stereotypes of minorities (and who must always address the Caucasians in power as Mister or Mrs while answering to their first names as children) and a long laundry list of other things that only "the older, more conservative audience of TCM" would not be disturbed by. Granted, when TCM aired I Am Curious, Yellow in the wee hours of the night, there was plenty of commentary among that group even though it was way past their bed time.

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with that contingent at all (as you probably have noticed). I've always been amused (saddened) by what most Americans find objectionable (sexuality, coarse language) and what is fine with them (violence, greed). I wish Osborne had been open about his life (as much as he needed to be; I also don't need to know everything about everyone in the public eye), but I was making a guess as to why he wasn't.

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Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with that contingent at all (as you probably have noticed). I've always been amused (saddened) by what most Americans find objectionable (sexuality, coarse language) and what is fine with them (violence, greed). I wish Osborne had been open about his life (as much as he needed to be; I also don't need to know everything about everyone in the public eye), but I was making a guess as to why he wasn't.

 

I know.

 

I again watched Joan Crawford's famous interview for the BBC (black & white, 1966) and her words were less "darker" and just "more angry" in regards to "modern" movies. She also went into detail about her battles with a tabloid journalist a decade before about exposing people's private lives. She felt her personal life was nobody's business. (Of course, Mommie Dearest after her death did plenty there.)

 

With Robert, I think all of the 1950s homophobia (spurned by the Cold War hysteria when it was important for everybody to be as much alike as possible) had a long lasting impact. Yes, in more recent years, he had an image he wanted to project that was not determined by your "orientation". We don't know details of his private life or even when he first met his boyfriend. He may have also struggled determining what his "orientation" was for many years due to all of the conditioning he had from family and environment, much like married men who have children just as their families expect them to, but later divorce or are widowed from their wives and are finally, thanks to changing times and stronger independence as you age, able to explore where their true desires lay.

 

Obviously Robert, for all of his personal reasons, kept intensely private throughout the gay liberation movement in the seventies (although, again, he might have still been struggling with no real "gay" experience at that time) and had to deal with renewed homophobia in the 1980s when AIDS gave conservatives added ammunition and created an equally un-inviting environment.

 

In the 1984 documentary and 2008 fictional movie on Harvey Milk, we see him as a politician pushing many gay men and lesbians "out of the closet" in 1977, declaring who they were in front of family and co-workers. This was NOT a good idea at the time since many would become homeless when employers, landlords and families were told. Yet his reasoning was two-fold:

1.) to show that being gay did not define who you are and your friends need to know so they will stop being prejudiced a.k.a. Anita Bryant style and now see you as no threat to school children

2.) to unite many people into a cohesive group with the motto of "power is determined by numbers". United "we" stand, divided "we" fall.

 

Yet everybody must operate at their own pace. He just had to wait until the end.

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From what I've read, Robert and his partner became a couple in the early 90s. Which means he was in a committed relationship with his partner the whole time he hosted on TCM. Yet he did not bring any of that part of his personal life to the job. Most of his work related duties (including the festivals and cruises) seem to have occurred without the presence of his partner, even on the sidelines or in the background. If so, that seems kind of sad to me-- and I think it explains why when he died, his partner kind of made a point of "outing" him. And I don't mean this in a negative way, but by granting interviews about his death to certain media outlets and not letting a publicist do it, the partner was basically claiming their relationship and making it go public without Robert there to say "no, don't do that, let's continue to keep it private." Again, I don't think it's a negative thing, it's the partner defining it as something legitimate, while also honoring his passing.

 

But when we look at what keeps a person in the closet all his life, at least to his fans and the general public, I wouldn't say it's as much a generational thing as it is a personal comfort issue. Usually people do not go public with their sexuality because they are fluid and can't define it in one direction (which doesn't seem like the case with Robert); because they are afraid and it's an internal fear and form of cowardice; or they are trying to compartmentalize and keep their private life separate from their public persona to avoid conflicts with others; or maybe they are just still in denial and do not consider it a legitimate part of who they are, even though they may be in a relationship (which seems complicated). There is also the whole media image thing-- if you have spent years ensuring people take you serious as a reporter, you might worry that your credibility would be undermined if you were out. 

 

Not long ago I read an autobiography written by a daytime soap actress. One of her costars in the 80s was gay and he died of AIDS. It's easy to look this stuff up online. But in her book, she tried to play him up as straight-- saying he played with her kids when they visited the set; saying he was a great kisser on screen; and then when it came to addressing his death, she said he had been on a trip overseas and picked up an exotic disease. That's how she described AIDS. "Exotic disease" was a metaphor about how he really died, because she was afraid, all these years after his death of outing him. So in addition to people who are afraid to come out of the closet, we have straight people/allies who help perpetuate the closet though they think they are helping. And I would imagine the women who went to public events with Robert as a "beard" were doing their part in keeping him closeted, though at the time, they thought they were helping.

 

Going back to Larry's earlier comment on whether the conservative TCM audience had to be protected or shielded from the truth about his private life, that seems to give homophobes a form of power they don't deserve. I'm not saying all of the channel's conservative viewers are homophobic, but protecting them from the truth or trying to keep it out of general conversations to ensure everyone is more comfortable is ultimately a whole lot more unsettling.

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