Zoel Parenteau, 75

Zoel J. Parenteau Jr., a key figure in two midwestern public TV stations, died Jan. 10, 2008, at age 75. Parenteau launched Kansas City’s pubTV station, then known as KCSD and operated by the public schools, in 1961. His title … Continue reading

Frugal Gourmet Jeff Smith dies

Jeff Smith, a popular advocate for simple and multicultural cooking on public TV, died in his sleep July 7 [2004] in Seattle. He was 65 and suffered from heart disease. The Frugal Gourmet, hosted by the white-bearded Methodist chaplain in a striped apron, aired on PBS from 1983 to 1997, making Smith a top chef on the network after Julia Child had established cooking as a staple for public TV. Smith virtually disappeared from public view in the late 1990s after a number of men accused him of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers. Continue reading

Alistair Cooke, 95

Just five weeks after filing his last Letter from America for the BBC, Alistair Cooke died March 30 [2004] at his home in Manhattan. He was 95 and had heart disease. Cooke had delivered the Letter for 58 years, far exceeding his 26 years as a U.S. correspondent for Britain’s Guardian newspaper or the mere 22 years he hosted Masterpiece Theatre. Continue reading

Series founder Stanford Calderwood dies

Stanford Calderwood, who served only a few months as president of WGBH, Boston, but initiated one of its most enduring franchises, Masterpiece Theatre, died May 9 [2002]. He was 81. Calderwood brought together costume dramas from British TV producers with … Continue reading