“Hi, I’m Robert Osborne.”
For more than 20 years, that was how Turner Classic Movies’ original host greeted viewers from a set just as welcoming that was meant to evoke Osborne’s living room. Not only did it seem like he was inviting us into his home, but he was inviting us into his world, a celluloid paradise that stretched from “Casablanca” to the galaxy of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Osborne, who died on March 6 at age 84, became a trusted friend who shared his encyclopedic knowledge of films with his audience, whether it was during introductions to thousands of classic movies or chatting with celebrity guests from Hollywood’s golden age.
This weekend, TCM salutes Osborne with a 48-hour marathon from 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Monday featuring some of his best interviews as well as specials in which the man who became the face of TCM got his moment in the spotlight. The opening act will be Massapequa native Alec Baldwin’s 2014 “Private Screenings” interview with Osborne about Osborne’s career, starting with his days as a Desilu contract player and then as a writer of both film books and a column for The Hollywood Reporter. Best of all are the stories about Osborne’s many famous friends, including his mentor Lucille Ball and Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, whom he spoke with via long distance (New York for him, Paris for her) every Sunday.
Osborne’s own skills as an interviewer will be on full display in other installments of “Private Screenings,” including his 2000 sit-down with reclusive star Betty Hutton, who discusses her movie career and why she dropped out of Hollywood and at one point was working as a housekeeper at a rectory in Rhode Island. The interview, which Osborne cited as his favorite, airs at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
The genial host also chats with celebs including Kim Novak, Peter O’Toole and Oscar winner Alan Arkin in “Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival,” recorded segments from TCM’s annual spring event in Los Angeles. Osborne’s compassion as well as his hosting skills are evident in equal measure in his 2010 interview with two-time best actress Oscar winner Luise Rainer, who was then 100. Rainer’s hearing aid broke during the interview — which airs 11:30 a.m. Saturday, 2:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Sunday and 5:15 a.m. Monday — and Osborne wrote out his questions on a notepad for her.
Finally, the marathon will include two other treats. At 8 p.m. Saturday, TCM will repeat Osborne’s initial TCM appearance from April 14, 1994, in which he introduced the first film presented on the channel, the 1939 blockbuster “Gone With the Wind.”
And airing six times will be “Robert Osborne’s 20th Anniversary Tribute,” taped at the 2014 film fest. Under the guise that he was to do a Q&A with Alex Trebek, Osborne was instead surprised onstage by family members and famous friends, including Robert Wagner, Eva Marie Saint, Michael Feinstein and Baldwin, in this special that takes its cue from “This Is Your Life.”
And what a life it was.
Whether you want to watch TCM’s two-day tribute to Robert Osborne live or record it to your DVR, here’s the lineup.
PRIVATE SCREENINGS INTERVIEWS
Robert Osborne — 6 a.m., 1:30 and 8:05 p.m. Saturday; 12:45 and 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday; 3:45 a.m. Monday
Norman Jewison — 7:30 a.m. Saturday; 2:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Sunday
Liza Minnelli — 12:15 and 11:45 p.m. Saturday; 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday
Debbie Reynolds — 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Betty Hutton — 10:30 p.m. Saturday
Ernest Borgnine — 3:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday
LIVE FROM THE TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL INTERVIEWS
Alan Arkin — 10:15 a.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday; 2:30 a.m. Monday
Luise Rainer — 11:30 a.m. Saturday; 2:15 and 10:15 p.m. Sunday; 5:15 a.m. Monday
Eva Marie Saint — 3 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday
Peter O’Toole — 5:30 p.m. Saturday; 9:15 a.m. and midnight Sunday
Kim Novak — 6:45 p.m. Saturday; 8:15 a.m. Sunday; 1:15 a.m. Monday
ROBERT OSBORNE’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE
9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Saturday; 4:45 a.m., noon, 8 and 11 p.m. Sunday
ROBERT OSBORNE’S INTRODUCTION TO ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’
8 p.m. Saturday