Lee Winfrey, former television critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and onetime president of the Television Critics Ass’n, died in Philadelphia March 31 of arteriosclerosis and diabetes. He was 70.
He was born Marion Lee Winfrey and grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. His 44-year career began in 1957 when he took a job with the Nashville Tennessean after graduating from the University of Tennessee. He worked as a reporter for the Miami Herald, Knight Newspapers and the Detroit Free Press before joining the Inquirer as a general-assignment reporter in 1972. He wrote his first television column for the paper in February 1974. He reviewed television programs for the newspaper until he retired in 2001.
Winfrey became president of the new Television Critics Association in 1978, helping to revise the ethics guidelines so that networks would no longer pay critics’ way to the semi-annual press tour. He played the guitar and often composed country songs. Before joining The Inquirer, he studied Shakespeare on a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University.
Winfrey is survived by a son, a brother and two former wives.