By Nick Thomas
Tinseltown Talks 

Diane Baker remembers TCM host Robert Osborne

Tinseltown Talks

 

April 1, 2024 | View PDF

Provided by TCM, photo by Edward M. Pio Roda

Former TCM host Robert Osborne and Diane Baker at the 2010 TCM Classic Film Festival.

The 15th Turner Classic Movies Film Festival is scheduled for April 18-21, in Hollywood. Canceled for a couple of years due to the pandemic, no one was more pleased to attend the festival when it resumed in person two years ago than actress Diane Baker, a popular guest at many of the past festivals.

"I love them!" said Baker from Los Angeles, who noted that the 2020 and 2021 events had been held virtually.

The five current TCM hosts-Ben Mankiewicz, Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Eddie Muller and Jacqueline Stewart-will be on hand to introduce dozens of movies during the four-day event as the classic film community rallies around this year's "Most Wanted: Crime and Justice in Film"  festival theme (see https://filmfestival.tcm.com).

A prolific film and television actor, producer and college teacher, Baker remembers when the TCM cable channel came into existence 30 years ago this month and its first host.

"I was there the night of the announcement at the Writer's Guild Theater in Los Angeles," she recalled. "Roger Mayer (the late Columbia Pictures, MGM and Turner former executive) came on stage to announce Turner Classic Movies was going to be launched and with no commercials, and that Robert Osborne (1932-2017) would be the new full-time host."

During his subsequent two decades with the channel, Osborne became the beloved public face of TCM due to his genial on-screen nature, mellow comforting voice, and encyclopedic knowledge of the entertainment industry.

"I'd known Robert since I was 19 years old," said Baker. "He studied journalism at the University of Washington but came to LA to try acting and lived in the neighborhood where I was growing up-Sherman Oaks."

When attempting to secure her first Hollywood contract, Baker even read audition scenes with Osborne.

"I was offered a contract and he was not!" said Baker, who signed with Twentieth Century Fox and soon began filming her first feature, 1959's emotionally charged "The Diary of Anne Frank." Osborne, she says, accompanied her to the premiere.

Filmed almost entirely on a cramped stage setting to reproduce the confined attic where the Frank family hid for two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Baker still vividly recalls her role as Anne's sister, Margot, seven decades earlier.

"Mr. Stevens (director) wanted us to be there most of the time even if we weren't in the scene because it was claustrophobic and he wanted that feeling of being a family closed off," she recalled. "He was very kind and gentle with us newcomers (and) used to give me little peppermint candies so I would be confident and less nervous before a scene. I'll never forget getting a beautiful box of yellow roses when the filming ended, from Mr. Stevens."

She also recalls the last time she met with Osborne.

"We stayed friends until he passed away and I saw him in his apartment just two weeks before. He was in a wheelchair, and we just talked and talked. I've always been involved with TCM and Robert was their rockstar."

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama, and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous magazines and newspapers. See http://www.getnickt.org.

Author Bio

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 750 magazines and newspapers.

 
 

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