Los Angeles, CA (WLTX) - Longtime Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne has passed away at the age of 84.

Pianist Michael Feinstein, a friend of Osborne, was first to mention the news in a Facebook posting.The news was later confirmed on Variety and the Hollywood Reporter's website.

TCM released the following statement.

"All of us at Turner Classic Movies are deeply saddened by the death of Robert Osborne. Robert was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than 23 years. He joined us an expert on classic film and grew to be our cherished colleague and esteemed ambassador for TCM.

"Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend. His calming presense, gentlemanly style, encyclopedic knowledge of film history, fervent support for film preservation and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a truly world-class host. Robert's contributions were fundamental in shaping TCM into what it is today and we own him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time."

Osborne had not appeared on the network for over a year, other than in pre-recorded commercials and segments. Other hosts had been filling in for guest duty.

Osborne had joined the network at its inception in 1994, and was literally the first voice and face viewers saw on the inaugural broadcast.

Over the years, Osborne became well-known for his interviews with Golden-age movie celebrities, and for his fullsome grasp of the history of Hollywood. He hosted the network's prime-time block for decades, as well as their special series, including "The Essentials."

The network expanded their public offerings to include film festivals and even a cruise, which Osborne always dutifully hosted.

Osborne began his career in Hollywood in front of the camera, attempting to become an actor. He made brief appearances in TV shows (including the Beverly Hillbillies) and commercials in the 1950s and early 1960s, under contract with Lucille and Desi Arnez's company, Desilu.

He transitioned to a career as a journalist, and wrote history books on movies. In the 1970s, he started a lengthy stint as a staff member for the Hollywood Reporter.

He also appeared as an entertainment reporter on a local TV station in Los Angeles, as well as for CBS Morning News in the late 1980s.