TCM Film Fest: Leonard Maltin to Receive Robert Osborne Award (Exclusive)

Martin Scorsese and Kevin Brownlow are the two prior recipients of the honor.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney
Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin, the iconic bearded and bespectacled veteran film critic and historian, will receive the TCM Classic Film Festival's third Robert Osborne Award for his significant contribution to film history and preservation, Turner Classic Movies announced Tuesday.

The award will be presented on a date still to be determined during the 11th annual TCM Classic Film Festival, which runs April 16-19 in Hollywood. It will be paired with a nitrate screening of one of Maltin's favorite films, Counsellor at Law (1933), which is being provided by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

The Robert Osborne Award is named after the veteran Hollywood insider who worked as a journalist at The Hollywood Reporter and as the official historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before becoming world famous as TCM's primary host of programming for more than 22 years. (Osborne died in 2017 at the age of 84.) It was created to honor "an individual who has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations"; its prior recipients were filmmaker and Film Foundation founder Martin Scorsese, an Oscar winner, and film preservationist Kevin Brownlow, an honorary Oscar recipient.

Maltin is best known for his widely used reference book Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, as well as his 30-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight.  He also  served two terms as president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, appears regularly on TCM and hosts the weekly podcast Maltin on Movies with his daughter, Jessie Maltin. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, George Eastman House, Anthology Film Archives and San Diego’s Comic-Con International are just a few of the other entities that previously have honored Maltin.

Ben Mankiewicz, TCM primetime anchor and official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival, said in a statement: "For movie fans of a certain age — let’s say between 30 and 130 — Leonard Maltin has been an indispensable source of vital information: 'What was it called? When was it made? Who was in it? And was it any good?' Consistently, you'd find the answers in Leonard's books. They set the standard for movie reference. Leonard's knowledge and passion for the movies has spanned an entire history of cinema. Who was the greatest silent screen comedian? Leonard has an answer because he’s seen those pictures. Was 1939 really Hollywood’s greatest year? Ask Leonard. How does Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stack up against The Irishman and should Moonlight's Oscar win over La La Land be considered an upset? Once again, ask Leonard Maltin. If Leonard doesn’t deserve the Robert Osborne Award, no one does. He's made movie knowledge accessible to millions of film fans across the globe."

Added Charles Tabesh, TCM's senior vp programming, "Leonard Maltin has been a friend to TCM for many years, and his work to make sure classic film history is accessible to everyone is a cornerstone of what TCM represents. We have relied on Leonard's extensive film knowledge on air and at every TCM Film Festival in the past, and we are thrilled to be able to honor him with the Robert Osborne Award."