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TCM Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary by Airing a Full Day of Robert Osborne Intros Alongside the Late Host’s Favorite Films

Turner Classic Movies will turn 30 on April 14, 2024. That’s right: It’ll be 30 years since Ted Turner flipped the switch — flanked by Old Hollywood legends Arthur Hiller, Arlene Dahl, Jane Powell, Celeste Holm, and Van Johnson — right in the middle of Times Square to turn the network “on.”

Also with Turner that day was the man who’d become TCM’s longtime host, Robert Osborne, then just 61. A veteran columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, Osborne had become known as a close friend to many of the surviving stars of yesteryear ever since he was photographed kissing Bette Davis’s hand during a Golden Globes broadcast in the late ’70s. He’d go on to host the intros and outros for most of TCM’s primetime lineup for close to 23 years after that launch date, until he died in March 2017 at 84.

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For so many TCM fans, Robert Osborne was the network. He brought an affability and accessibility to his intros, placing each film in its historic context, sharing a little bit of its production history and what impact it made at the time of its release, and always imbuing his comments with real enthusiasm. Where so much of film culture is exclusionary and about flaunting one’s knowledge, he was inclusive and welcoming, like an old friend who simply wanted to share some of his favorite things with his new friends, the TV audience. This was film culture as appreciation and understanding, not posturing. It’s why Osborne is so revered all these years later, even as a new roster of hosts — Ben Mankiewicz (with the network since the early 2000s, long overlapping with Osborne, and TCM’s main primetime host now), Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart, and Eddie Muller — have stepped in to fill his giant shoes.

So that’s why on April 14 this year, TCM will air an entire day of Osborne’s favorite movies along with his vintage intros for them, including films like Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” the Gene Kelly musical “An American in Paris,” and of course “Gone With the Wind,” the first film to receive an introduction on TCM back in 1994.

In a statement, Mankiewicz remarks on the unique place TCM holds in film fans’ hearts and acknowledges just how much viewers will love seeing Osborne again.

“How many other channels on television celebrate their anniversary? How many other channels’ fans know where they were the day a network launched?” said Mankiewicz. “I’m not sure either of those things are true without Robert Osborne. He’s the Walter Cronkite of TCM. The Johnny Carson. The Alex Trebek. With these intros of Robert’s, we’re celebrating his impact and his continued influence. Plus, as we do with the movies we show, we’ll put Robert into context. Additionally, we’ll also look back to those early years and get the perspectives and experiences of the early TCM staffers who helped shaped the legacy of the channel.”

On other days throughout April, former TCM staffers and executives will be appearing on air to share their own favorite films, such as Sean Cameron, the longtime VP of studio production who I myself worked with when I first appeared on the channel in 2017, or Sandi Winslow, the teleprompter operator for the network’s first 20 years.

That acknowledgement of the people who’ve made TCM gets at something meaningful: That for the nation’s film lovers, TCM is not just a channel, it’s a community. How better to reflect that than by welcoming back the people who helped bring it to viewers in the first place?

Here’s the full lineup of Osborne’s favorites with his intros that’ll air on April 14 (all times ET/PT):

  • 12:15 AM – “The Breaking Point” (1950) – Robert and Eddie Muller introduction, original air date 1/17/13 – Features new insights from Eddie Muller for Noir Alley

  • 2:15 AM – “Wild Bill Hickok Rides” (1942) – “Bob’s Pick” from 11/15/96

  • 4:00 AM – “The Guardsman” (1931) – “Bob’s Pick” from 4/14/11

  • 5:30 AM – “The Pirate” (1948) – “Bob’s Pick” from 4/14/11

  • 7:30 AM – “North by Northwest” (1959) – “Bob’s Pick” from 4/14/15

  • 10:00AM – “The Breaking Point” (1950) – Noir Alley Repeat

  • 12:00PM – “An American in Paris” (1951) – Robert and Dave Karger introduction, original air date 2/23/07 – Features new introduction from Dave Karger

  • 2:00PM – “Mr. Skeffington” (1945) – Robert and guest programmer Mario Cantone, original air date 1/10/06 – Features new introduction from Alicia Malone

  • 4:30PM – “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1950) – Robert and guest programmer Kermit the Frog, original air date 11/21/07 – Features new introduction from Alicia Malone

  • 6:30PM – “Private Screenings: Robert Osborne” (2014)

  • 8:00PM – “Gone with the Wind” (1939) – First TCM film introduction, original air date 4/14/94 – Features new context from Ben Mankiewicz

  • 12:00AM – “The Wind” (1928) – Robert and co-host Sally Field, original air date 4/25/08 as part of The Essentials – Features new introduction from Jacqueline Stewart for Silent Sunday Night

  • 1:30AM – Robert Osborne’s 20th Anniversary Tribute (2015)

  • 2:30AM – “Diabolique” (1955) – Robert and co-host Drew Barrymore, original air date 5/12/12 as part of The EssentialsFeatures new introduction from Alicia Malone for TCM Imports

  • 4:30AM – “The Petrified Forest” (1936) – Aired on TCM’s first day, 4/14/94

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