David Staller, Robert Osborne’s Partner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne died on March 6 at age 84. Osborne never revealed much about his private life, but his partner, David Staller, came forward in the Los Angeles Times’ obituary.

Osborne’s family said in his obituary that he died after a long battle with kidney disease.

TCM announced that it is hosting a 48-hour tribute to Osborne between Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19. The network will air interviews Osborne conducted with stars, as well as his first-ever introduction on TCM, which was for Gone With The Wind.

Staller is a New York theater director and producer with a love of George Bernard Shaw’s works that mirrored Osborne’s love of classic movies.

Here’s a look at Staller’s life and career.


1. Staller Confirmed Osborne’s Death

Robert Osborne TCM, Robert Osborne dead, Robert Osborne age

Robert Osborne in 2009. (Getty)

Staller confirmed Osborne’s death in a brief interview with the Los Angeles Times. He said that Osborne died in his sleep from natural causes at his New York City home.

“It’s difficult to imagine a planet without him,” Staller said. “He made the choice to call it a day, and he wants everyone to know that he’ll see them at the after party.”

Staller and Osborne had been together for 20 years. Osborne did not talk publicly about their relationship, but they were seen together at some events. In 2010, Broadway World published photos of them together at the Gingold Theatrical Group’s St. Patrick’s Day Gala. Other photos from that event can be seen here.


2. Staller Is a Member of The Actors Company Theatre

Staller has been a member of The Actors Company Theatre since the 1995-1996 season. His bio also notes that he was a staff script writer for Turner Entertainment.

As a director for TACT, Staller helmed its 2015-2016 production of Widowers’ Houses. He has also acted in productions of The Matchmaker, Androcles and the Lion, The Beauty Party and The Madwoman of Chaillot.

3. He’s the Founding Artistic Director of a Group Dedicated to George Bernard Shaw

TACT Company Interviews – David StallerTACT/The Actors Company Theatre presents TACT COMPANY INTERVIEWS! Get up close and personal with TACT's Company Members. Featuring: David Staller, TACT Acting Company Member. http://tactnyc.org/company/david-staller/2016-08-11T21:11:59.000Z

Staller is such a fan of George Bernard Shaw’s work that he is the Founding Artistic Director of the Gingold Group. He’s directed several off-Broadway productions of Shaw’s work for their Shaw New York Festival. A few of the productions were filmed by the New York Public Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Staller has become a “go-to speaker” on subjects related to George Bernard Shaw’s work. He founded the Gingold Group in January 2006.

According to the group’s website, their goal is to present “works celebrating human rights and free speech using the outspoken humanitarian precepts of George Bernard Shaw as its platform to entertain, enlighten and enrich.” The group is named after the late actress Hermione Gingold, who was a friend of Staller’s.

This year’s Project Shaw 2017 includes productions of You Never Can Tell, Captain Bassbount’s Conversion, Press Cuttings and Candida.

In an interview with Criterion.com in 2010, Staller explained how he became obsessed with Gorge Bernard Shaw:

I was about nine or ten, and I was in England, and I heard a special broadcast about Shaw on the radio. And I heard his voice. It was an amusing-sounding voice, almost pixieish. I had no idea who Shaw was, and I was just enchanted by the sound of him. Then I heard the speaker quote him, saying “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” At that age, that idea had never occurred to me. I began exploring who this guy was, and one of the ways I was able to do that was through these films that you’re rereleasing—when possible, on television or at revival houses. It’s really thrilling to me that you’re making this work accessible to people. It sort of epitomizes what Shaw’s fascination with film was, which was the wider audience.


4. He Studied Acting Under Lee Strasberg

The Conversation: David StallerOn a short list of things to thank George Bush for there is David Staller's inspiration to produce and present the complete theatrical works of George Bernard Shaw. Staller, a bonafide Shavian (a Shaw devotee) before he began the endeavor, set out to direct a monthly public reading of the Irish writers plays at the famed Players Club in Gramercy Park in New York. Staller, the director of Two River Theater's production of Candida, a Shaw play, said that "when George Bush was reelected it was a very frightening time particularly for the media. Whether or not you were pro or against what the Bush Administration was for was irrelevent to me. The point is human rights were at stake." Staller called the moment, "the spark" for him that sent him off "tilting windmills," to mix literary references. The director went Quixotic and sallied forth with Shaw's work as his shield and his intentions as his sabre. Shaw's plays, comedies all, were also sharp commentaries on social issues and institutions including education, marriage, religion, government, health care and class privilege. Staller, claiming he could not contribute financially, enough anyway to have any great effect on the body politic, decided to revive Shaw's body of work instead. He hoped for what he called his "little ripple effect contribution." From 2006 to 2009 Staller and his company, the Gingold Theatrical Group, named for his late friend and fellow Shavian, Hermoine Gingold, presented all 65 plays. And the work continues. The company is developing new material written by theater critics. Shaw was an accomplished critic himself. The new works, penned by members of the press community, will employ the humorous and humanist precepts of Shaw. In addition the group will also present a new Shaw series starting in the fall, comprised of scene work instead readings of full plays. All of the work of the Gingold Theatrical Group, Staller said, will adhere to Shaw's precept, to be an affirmation of human rights. Of TRT's newest production, Candida, Staller remarked that Shaw "took flack for writing it." Shaw, a fierce supporter of women's rights, created a love triangle story in which the power resides, uncommon for the time, in the role of the desired woman, the play's namesake. Candida, the play and the character, challenges societal structure at a time in history when women lacked any power, certainly the power to vote or to own property. Staller's admiration for the play is based, in part, on a tempered, wise resolution, that perhaps comes from journeying with Shaw all these years. It is the timelessness of the work, which was first produced in 1895, that interests him. Despite advancements in personal and collective views on the equality of all people, we are, over a hundred years since Shaw's play first encouraged audiences to be candid about love, marriage and women's roles, still fumbling around with the subject matter. "I find it thrilling," Staller said, "that, the exploration of who we are hasn't changed. People are the same." And although Staller's inspiration for his Shavian exploration no longer helms the "free" world, it is the unchanging nature of our governance that tempers his response to politics today. "What I've learned, in my adult age," he said, "is that it's always the same…whether we like the president or not…no matter what the administration. It's always an on-going struggle." Six years of tilting windmills has resulted in an understanding that politics is as per usual, and as per Shaw, it is the manner in which we govern ourselves that deserves introspection, understanding and dedication. Paraphrasing Shaw, Staller concluded, "the government we get is no better than the government we deserve, which basically means, we are responsible. It's up to us to make bold choices, because the caveat, the hard part is it's our responsibility to take responsibility. And I think this is what Shaw was trying to impart in all of his work." Performances of Candida run through April 10. The production is sponsored in part by Two River's Education Partner, Monmouth University, and Rumson Fair Haven Bank and Trust. For more information about David Staller and Project Shaw or to view the company's schedule, go to: http://www.projectshaw.com.2011-04-10T04:00:40.000Z

According to his Gingold Group bio, Staller studied acting with Lee Strasberg in Los Angeles and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In New York, he studied with Stella Adler and Uta Hagen.

According to Broadway World‘s bio page, Staller was born in Glencoe, Illinois.

In an interview with Broadway World, Staller explained how Shaw influenced his work.

“When I was about 10, I heard an old recording of Shaw from a radio broadcast saying, ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself,'” Staller explained to the site. “It fascinated me, particularly since everyone I knew seemed to be in therapy. The notion of not allowing others to define whom we wish to be resonated and I began exploring his work. He’d given his life to fighting for humanitarian causes, standing up for the disenfranchised in the world; and, face it, that’s all of us. The more I read, the more intrigued by his work and his life I became.”


5. He Studied at USC & Became a Script Doctor

A Conversation with David StallerGet a look at Two River Theater Company's production of Candida through the eyes of Director, David Staller. Candida March 22-April 10, 2011 By George Bernard Shaw Directed by David Staller Scenic Design by Tony Cisek Costume Design by Anna Lacivita Lighting Design by Traci Klainer Polimeni Sound Design by Karin Graybash Dialect Coach – Maggie Surovell http://www.trtc.org/2011-03-09T20:00:05.000Z

His resume also includes a stint as a “script doctor” while he studied at the University of Southern California. He also studied cello there.

After graduating, he headed back to New York, where he appeared in nearly 50 off-Broadway plays and even on a “Distinguished performer” Drama League citation for a production of Gaslight. In 1993, he performed a one-man show called Noel&Cole at Carnegie Hall.

According to his LinkedIn page, Staller earned a bachelor’s degree at USC in 1977. He also studied theatre and dance at New York University from 1973 to 1974.