He was the consummate host, perhaps the greatest in the history of television. His name was Alistair Cooke. He died Tuesday in Manhattan at the age of 95.
When I was a small child, my family gathered at the TV every week to watch "Omnibus", a highbrow cultural variety magazine program that aired, amazingly, in succession, on all three broadcast networks. I clearly remember some of the live studio performance segments, as well as the mini-films, especially one featuring a British gentleman whose mandatory umbrella was tipped with a false shield, under which was a deadly dagger. The sprightly score of this film has been running through my head ever since.
Holding it all together was Alistair Cooke, then a British citizen. It was Cooke who created the hosting style we recognize today as the "60 Minutes", "20/20", "Prime Time Live" and "Dateline" style.