Robert Jolin Osborne is an American actor and film historian best known as the primary host of the Turner Classic Movies television network since its inception in 1994. He formerly hosted films on The Movie Channel.
Born in the small town of Colfax, Washington, Osborne graduated from the University of Washington's School of Journalism. He began his career working as a contract actor for Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball's Desilu Studios, becaming part of Lucille Ball's Desilu Workshop, in which Ball worked with and nurtured young performers such as Osborne and actress-singer Carole Cook. One of Osborne's early television appearances was in 1959 on an episode of 'Desilu Playhouse' called "Chain of Command," starring Hugh O'Brian. He was also featured on the special Christmas Day 'Desilu Playhouse' installment, "The Desilu Revue" in December of that year. He was also seen in small roles in such TV shows as The Californians and in the pilot episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Ball suggested that Osborne combine his love of film with his abilities as a journalist. Osborne took her advice, although he has continued to appear in a number of small parts in television and film, including an appearance parodying his TCM hosting job on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
Osborne was a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter from 1982 to 2009. In 2008, Abbeville Press published his book 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards.