Turner Classic Movies Celebrates 20th Anniversary on Monday

Turner Classic Movies Celebrates 20th Anniversary

If Turner Classic Movies had only been endowed with films from the pre-1948 MGM library, it would have been the channel of cinefiles’ dreams. If it had only had the pre-1950 Warner Bros. library, it would have been a 24/7 haven for film buffs. If it had only had the RKO Pictures library, it would have been a great channel.

But thanks to the foresight of Ted Turner, TCM launched on April 14, 1994 with the keys to all three of those vaults. Sure, Turner infuriated cineastes a few years before with his campaign to colorize classic black-and-white pics (shudder), but he more than made up for that misguided effort with the gift of TCM.

Commercial free, uncut, lovingly and smartly presented movies running 24/7, along with fantastic archival material, shorts (“One-Reel Wonders”) and other carefully excavated gems — there’s nothing not to like about TCM or its primary hosts, Robert Osborne (who’s been there since day one) and Ben Mankiewicz (who’s worked there since 2003).

Even more Warner Bros. pics became available to TCM the year after its launch when Turner and Time Warner tied the knot, reuniting the Burbank studio with its celluloid heritage. (MGM/UA owned the pre-1950 WB titles by the time Ted Turner bought most of the MGM library in 1986.)

Over the years, TCM has expanded into original documentaries, the TCM Classic Film Festival (wrapping its fifth incarnation in Hollywood this weekend), cruises for classic film fanatics and its own homevid line of curated titles (even those from non-Time Warner distributors). But TCM has never strayed from its first mission of showcasing the greatest movies of all time. And for that, film lovers around the globe salute you.

TCM will mark its 20th anniversary on Monday with the 7 p.m. retrospective special “TCM: Twenty Classic Moments” and a slate of fan-favorite pics, including “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Maltese Falcon” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Here’s some fun facts from TCM’s history to date:

Number of movies in the TCM library: Approximately 10,000 titles at any given time.

First movie ever to air on TCM: “Gone with the Wind” (1939), which has since been shown more than 35 times.

Oldest films to air on TCM: “Annie Oakley,” “Bucking Broncho” and “Sioux Ghost Dance” — all from 1894.

Newest film to air on TCM: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)

Most frequently aired movie on TCM: “Casablanca” (1942), which has been shown more than 125 times.

Movies most often requested by TCM viewers: “The High and the Mighty” (1954), “Northwest Passage” (1937) and “The African Queen” (1951)

Number of on-air appearances by Robert Osborne: 60,570

Number of on-air appearances by Ben Mankiewicz: 10,473

Number of guest co-hosts: 88 guest co-hosts for such themed programming as “Race in Hollywood” and “The Story of Film: An Odyssey.”

Robert Osborne’s favorite interview for TCM: Kermit the Frog

Actor or actress whom Robert Osborne would most like to interview: Sophia Loren

Number of Private Screenings interview specials with Robert Osborne: 28 specials

Robert Osborne’s first Private Screenings interview: Jane Powell (originally under the title “Reel Memories”).

Robert Osborne’s favorite Private Screenings interview: Betty Hutton. “She was terribly frightened, but totally honest and it ended up being a great lesson about the dark side of stardom,” Osborne said.

(Pictured from left: Director Arthur Hiller, actresses Arlene Dahl, Jane Powell, Celeste Holm, Turner boss Ted Turner, actor Van Johnson and TCM anchor Robert Osborne in Times Square celebrating the TCM launch in 1994.)

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  1. tianna says:

    Enjoying Tcm, hollywood on parade, jimmy durante buster kenton, hollywood party laurel hardy, jimmy durante

  2. Chris says:

    BUT WHERE IS THE REAL PRESERVATION??? LIKE PRESERVATION OF THE B&W and distribution of true classics by Marie Dressler? Not DVD-R but REAL PRESERVATION and REAL QUALITY REPRODUCTION in maybe Blu-ray for purchase? Sell them and make money off of the quality black and white originals to make more money for preservations of those classics and not colorizations!!!!! Where are they??? I don’t see those on the market!!! Turner Classic Movies is just making money for itself and not preserving the movies so those of us who want to collect these valuable B&W 1920s, 1930 and early 1940s … they aren’t available!!!! I want Marie Dressler and other TRUE CLASSICS in GREAT REPRODUCTION and for purchase!!! Where is TCM on this??????

  3. An outstanding cable channel and a movie lovers’ paradise. Thank you, TCM, and many, many happy returns!

  4. Ken says:

    TCM – the only sane channel left on North American television. Happy Anniversary!

  5. vp19 says:

    To be fair, Ted Turner did plenty for film preservation and restoration long before TCM was founded; remember the original TNT? http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/438472.html

  6. Martin says:

    Our favorite channel.

  7. B says:

    Here is to TCM, the greatest TV channel of all. May it continue forever more!

  8. spang1974 says:

    Sorry,TCM doesn’t deserve another 20 years, as it does have advertising breaks in other parts of the world.

  9. Shawn Gordon says:

    Happy birthday to a true friend. Here’s to twenty more, hope you never change.

  10. JoeR says:

    Y’know what would really be great from TCM? If the TCN-HD channel actually broadcast movies in…HD! They’ve had the channel for years now and still no HD to be found. What a LOSS to film buffs.

  11. lboogie81 says:

    Reblogged this on The Student Becomes The Teacher and commented:
    Happy Birthday, TCM! Can you include more Dorothy Dandridge and Diana Ross movies, please?

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