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Why does Robert Osborne on TCM slur his words?

In the past year or so fans have been noticing that TCM host Robert Osborne doesn’t look so well and sometimes he seems to have difficulty with words.  Also his speech seems a little difficult or impaired, but nobody seems to know the answer to the question about what might be causing this.

Some people say that he has lost weight under medical supervision and that his old clothes don’t fit him well.  Others have said that a weight loss of 10 pounds in a man his age should be compensated by better lighting so as to not reveal the unflattering effects of the weight loss.  Lately, however, he looks as though he has gained weight, and as of April 1, 2015, he seems to be the heaviest he’s ever been.

More recent photos of Robert Osborne here: Daily Pics TCM.

Well, he is eighty and there could be a lot of things that could cause a man his age to slur his words.  A recent tribute to Osborne on the occasion of his 20 th anniversary as on air host featured a blooper reel wherein he seems a little tipsy, and in one instance he implies that he is indeed drunk.

Another one of the usual suspects would be Bell’s Palsy — an irritation of the nerves serving his face.  This usually runs it’s course and goes away but sometimes it lingers on for a long time.  This doesn’t seem to be the case.

The medical reasons number into the hundreds, but he still has the energy to get to work,  so how bad can it be ?  As a matter of fact sometimes he speaks perfectly, but then again we don’t really know when segments were actually filmed.

Check out possible causes of slurred speech: http://symptoms.wrongdiagnosis.com/cosymptoms/slurred-speech.htm

Osborne is  a good guy and he’s great at his job so let’s hope there is nothing seriously wrong with him.

  1. Its because he’s GAAAAAAAY

  2. Gay or not gay, that doesn’t explain why he sometimes sounds drunk — I know he’s not drunk — what’s the deal? Somebody’s gotta know.


  3. Perhaps he’s already suffered from a TIA. I’ve notice a problem with his right leg which resembles arthritis of the knee. He seems to be a very private person. Taking time off to take care of these issues puts his privacy at risk. I seriously doubt ill fitting dentures would be an issue. The man could certainly afford a decent fitting set and as someone who speaks for a living, he wouldn’t put up with them very long.

  4. @Rhonda — The doctor in town tells us that a TIA does not leave one impaired in any way and thus when a stroke is suspected it is redesignated as a TIA when the symptoms abate — usually in a few hours or minutes. A slight stroke or a small (mini) stroke would be a more likely culprit if in fact that his problem has anything to do with a stroke of any kind.

    Thank you for your intelligent input and thank you for reading.


  5. Mr Osborne now sits in a chair as he introduces or recaps a movie. Prior to that he appeared to be stiff, unsteady, and hesitant as he stood or walked toward the camera. His words now are more often slurred than clear. His face is mask-like at times. It Is my guess that he has Parkinson’s disease. Whatever the cause, he is not the more dynamic host of not so long ago. Yet he continues; and I find that admirable.

  6. Our doctor tells us that Parkinson’s is not a likely suspect. Whatever it is, we hope he either gets better or has the courage and strength to overcome whatever it is that is ailing him. The slurring is much more apparent in segments that have obviously been filmed very recently — an example would be clips about Elizabeth Taylor movies made after her death.

  7. Mr. Osborne is always a gentleman with his guests and impeccably dressed. What may or may not be going on with his health is not our business and bless him for his privacy needs. We all wish him back with us asap in good health and his usual great spirit.

  8. Obviously you are not a regular DamienZone reader — and who can blame you — but I have made a point of expressing my admiration for Bob Osborne and his privacy.


  9. We love Robert Osbourne and are concerned about his absence. I had noticed the difference in his speech but thought he might have a pulmonary disorder. Wish him the best regardless.

  10. Mr. Damien, Thank you for this site. My friend and I were just wondering out loud about Mr. Osborne, who we greatly admire and miss terribly. The thoughtful comments and your words are appreciated. The first one will be duly dismissed!

  11. I know that comment was silly an dopey but in the interest of fairness I have to put up all opinions — it annoyed me to have to okay that one. Thank you for the kind words’


  12. My daughter has a co-worker that people think is drunk. He is NOT drunk, he has ATAXIA (confirmed via MRI) and it is affecting his coordination and speech. Just another possibility for SPECULATION.

    None of us know if it is illness, age, or a combination of things that are going on with Mr. Osborne, all we can do it speculate. He is an extremely private person and frankly who can blame him.

    Best wishes to him and thank you Damien for your site.

  13. Ataxia is not a disease — it’s a symptom of hundreds of diseases.

  14. To the idiot blogger who said that Robert Osborne is “gay.” Mr. Osborne has been married to his wife of many, many years. He is not gay.
    Where do these weird, hateful people come from? Obviously, the stupid, younger generation (anyone under 40 nowadays).

  15. Renata — As much as I love and respect Mr. Osborne, according to all sources, he has NEVER been married. That does not, however, mean that he is gay. If you know something that outside of all of his biographical online information, kindly share it with us.


  16. We just love Robert and wish him the very best of health.
    The fear is that the daddy’s boy Mankowitz will eventually replace Robert.
    Nepotism is ugly and creates mediocrity; as in G W Bush Jr.

  17. I agree with you about Mankowitz but I think you should look up the word “nepotism” in the dictionary, G W Bush was not handed a job by his father. Don’t let your hatred for Bush make you forget the meaning of words. Nepotism is an even uglier word when you use it incorrectly.

  18. As a Canadian I do not hate GW Bush because he has not directly hurt me. However, his idiotic decisions in the face of adversity have hurt many innocent American families. If Bush Sr. had not been Jr’s father, do you seriously think he would have been nominated??? This is called nepotism my simple friend. You could also include cronyism as an ugly descriptor of both Bush and Mankowitz Juniors.

  19. Nepotism — The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, esp. by giving them jobs. Nobody GAVE George W. Bush either the Governorship of Texas or the Presidency. He was elected. Nepotism in and around the White House, however, has happened –and in a big way. JFK appointed RFK, his kid brother who had never practiced law, to the position of Attorney General of the USA. Also, I did not like the “my simple friend” comment because it was condescending, and to add insult to injury, you did not know enough to put the comma in before you wrote it. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s cloying insults served up without proper punctuation. Okay — no more soup for you — even Robert Osborne would agree.

  20. Jr was nominated first….By his father’s cronies. Given his credentials before politics, just like RFK he never would have been electable. Two wrongs do not make it right. (How can any American possibly defend GWB after what he did to you all???) (And his work still seems to continue!) (Remember, as a Canuck I’m not taking party sides in my comments.)
    “My simple friend” is an ad hominum attack which should not have occured:^)
    This discussion should really be about Mankowitz and how his father’s cronies got him the job…..

  21. “How can any American defend GWB after what he did to you all?” Who is defending him — I’m sticking up for a word definition, but more recently it’s becoming more and more apparent that GWB wasn’t so bad after all. This was supposed to be about ROBERT OSBORNE!

  22. Damien, you are truly a joy!

    I’ve chuckled over your on-target responses to “nepotism” and your dismissal of the “gay” stab. I’ve admired your kind, concise and informed replies to concerns about Robert Osberne’s health. I can’t think of a better person to take on the public or handle it as deftly.


  23. Thank you, Kaye — I really should do a video version of this — but I am soooooo handsome that I might cause a sensation hehe! Thank you


  24. Robert Osborne is a class act the likes of whom you just don’t see anymore .He is the BEST movie reviewer out there BAR NONE. And what a great dresser! I hope Mr. Osborne returns back to the airwaves very soon. I miss him.

  25. We all miss him — he’s like the uncle everbody wishes they had.

  26. Renata – So what if Robert Osborne is gay. People under 40 are hateful you say. I think you have a lot of hatred towards gay people. Check yourself Renata.

  27. Jeff — If you look back over the comments and read them correctly, you will see that Renata was defending anti-gay comments against Mr. Osborne. She was, however, wrong with her information that he has been married to the same woman for many year — he has never married.


  28. I will miss him,should he not return.I thought it was just me who noticed his sometime slured speech.It’s sad to read some of the statements 0n this site.Some years ago I had a stroke though much much younger than Mr.Osborne,It was a very scary time.He was here for us,to let us go behind the scenes of some of the greatest movies ever made.He did it with such style and grace,that I looked forward to his commentary.I learned alot from you Mr.Osborne,about the movies.I’ll pray for you.

  29. I don’t know what Mr Osborne is doing or how. But personally I think he looks better than he did a few years ago. His weight loss makes him look younger. I don’t notice much of this slurring of speach that people are talking about. And esp for his age he seems like a very young man. I hope he’s well and I agree a vacation is needed. It takes alot more to make these shows and talk to the camera than most people know. He does a great job. But could someone buy Ben a clean new pair of jeans that aren’t a foot too long?

  30. Some things, especially The Essentials were filmed nearly two years ago. You can’t go by how you see him day today on TCM because some of those segments were taped as far back as 10 years — believe it or not.

  31. I didn’t find your page because of Mr. Osborne’s slurring, instead I was trying to find out what this “vacation” is about.
    During the first two weeks of his absence I believed he really was on vacation. Now I’m not so sure and the longer he’s off the air the less I believe it.
    In light of the growing concern among his loyal fans I wish TCM would address his absence. The network must know by now the viewers don’t think he’s on “vacation”, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.
    I hope and pray we’re all wrong and as I type this Mr. Osborne is stretched out on a beach somewhere sipping one of those fruity drinks with an umbrella in it. But if that is the case why not let us know when he plans to return? That’s the sticking point for me, the fact that they don’t say when or even IF he’ll be back.
    I don’t wish to pry into Mr. Osborne’s private life. Unless wanting to know he’s okay and when he’ll be returning is “prying”, if so then I guess I am!

    G-d Bless you Mr. Osbourne… Wherever you are!

  32. TheDamienZone issued a personal message issued on facebook by Mr. Osborne — and he is fine. Here is the Statement: http://thedamienzone.com/2011/09/12/tcms-robert-osborne-issues-public-statement-on-facebook/

  33. Dear Damien,
    Thank you posting the link to Mr. Osborne’s post. It certainly put to rest my concerns regarding his return.
    As well I have a special birthday present to look forward to considering I was born on the first day of FALL! According to Mr. Osborne’s post that’s when he plans to return. I admit I’m being a little overzealous considering he didn’t actually say “the first day of fall”. But… no harm in wishing, right?
    Again, thank you for the link.

  34. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Osborne has had a mini stroke. My grandmother on my mothers side had mini strokes as well. So, I feel that he shall bounce back and hopefully return to his position.
    Best of health Mr. Osborne.

  35. Who said he had a mini stroke?

  36. I’m very concerned about Mr. Osborne as his “vacation” goes on and on. I’m a big fan of TCM and Robert Osborne and wish him my very best. I hope to see him back soon.
    Barbara Myers
    Austin TX

  37. Barb — Mr. Osborne issued a public statement on Facebook — here is the story I wrote — http://thedamienzone.com/2011/09/12/tcms-robert-osborne-issues-public-statement-on-facebook/

  38. A TIA IS A MINI STROKE- My Nuerologist plus being a Nurse and suffering one does give me some experience. It can leave you with permanent or temporary damage such as slurred speech, a gait that is
    off and brain fog.
    I also noticed him holding his arm and a drooped eyelid and gait difference.
    It is because we do care but please don’t say a TIA
    Your Doctor needs to go back to medical school. Even the internet knows they are the warning “mini strokes” and I had to and am still being monitored due to high blood pressure.
    Please do not discredit what TIA’s are and symptoms do not always go away and are warning signs, if addressed there are stroke medications now that can reverse the symptoms if giving quickly (within an hour)

    but are the warning signals and there is medicatioc


    t is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
    Some people call a transient ischemic attack (TIA) a mini-stroke, because the symptoms are like those of a stroke but do not last long. A TIA happens when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced, often by a blood clot. After a short time, blood flows again and the symptoms go away. With a stroke, the blood flow stays blocked, and the brain has permanent damage.

    A TIA is a warning: It means you are likely to have a stroke in the future. If you think you are having a TIA, call 911. Early treatment can help prevent a stroke. If you think you have had a TIA but your symptoms have gone away, you still need to call your doctor right away.

    What are the symptoms?
    Symptoms of a TIA are the same as symptoms of a stroke. They may include:

    Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    Sudden vision changes.
    Sudden trouble speaking.
    Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
    What causes a transient ischemic attack?
    A blood clot is the most common cause of a TIA. Blood clots can be the result of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack, or abnormal heart rhythms. Brain cells are affected within seconds of the blockage. That causes symptoms in the parts of the body controlled by those cells. Once the clot dissolves, blood flow returns, and the symptoms go away.

  39. Here is the reply from our doctor who you rudely suggested should go back to medical school. This is why doctors get annoyed at nurses.

    Dear Babsie,
    You are giving out wrong information because you are confusing your terminology. The essence of a TIA is that the T stands for TRANSIENT – it comes and it goes and leaves no lasting or discernible damage. It does, however, serve as a warning that a major stroke might be in the offing. The confusion arises because people use the antiquated expression “mini-stroke” to describe a TIA — when in fact a TIA is not an actual stroke per se and the thing that indeed separates a real stroke of any magnitude with a TIA is the fact that a real stroke causes impairment whereas a TIA is, as its names suggests, a transient episode. Perhaps you are thinking of a “minor stroke.” It is very possible that Mr. Osborne had a minor stroke, but that is in no way a TIA. A minor stroke could certainly have caused Mr. Osborne’s symptoms but a TIA would not unless he was having a TIA while he was filming a segment which is highly doubtful. He would feel a little too strange to keep taping. So, in closing I would say that people should not use the expression “mini-stroke” when describing a TIA. Now I am off to go back to medical school.

    It’s always a pleasure to answer questions from you, Damien
    Fondest regards,
    Doc Dean.

  40. I would like to say I noticed the slurs some months ago. What ever Mr.Osborne’s reason are for his leave of absence is his concerns. If he is ill, leave the speculations to yourselves and let the man deal with his illness his own way. 75 is a long time and he watched Shirley Temple when he was growing up. He has seen 5 wars and his friends go like the great Lucy! Respect his privacy because your comments will change if something happens to him.

  41. I respect his privacy. I only address the hundreds of questions I get in my email box. Should I just ignore the fans who love him?

  42. Mr. Osborne was my film professor in 1980 at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach California. I distinctly remember him, it was the fall semester in 1980, he wore a trenchcoat just like Peter Falk. I was raised in a family of movie buffs from the sixties in Los Angeles. Film history to name movies, actors and the who’s who was always a trivia question in our house and Robert Osborne I learned knows all the film history there could be. His delicate descriptions and recallections from all the big history of Hollywood was amazing to me. He is always very thoughtful when speaking of the great actors and very respected worldwide. This man is a genuine treasure, hope he’s back soon.

  43. CJC — The way one can easily appreciate Robert Osborne is to watch him when he is alongside of Alec Baldwin. Baldwin seems so coarse and boorish while Mr. Osborne carries himself like a benevolent king. Baldwin comes off like like a labor union organizer. I pray that Osborne comes back — the class level of TCM with him at the helm is the highest on TV since John Charles Daly hosted “What’s My Line.”

  44. Did a doctor really write “seperates”???? hard to beleive

  45. The doctor takes the time to explain the nature of an illness and you nitpick through it to find a spelling error? Did you see how you spelled “believe?” You also punctuated the entire thing incorrectly. Listen, shitface. Whenever you feel the urge to be a nitpicking, stupid ASSHOLE with a fake ASSHOLE email addresss, just send along your comment — but be sure your own house is in order. What else should I expect from an idiot who works for CBS? Go to work before I call your boss and tell him your goofing off, JERK OFF!


  46. God bless you Mr. Osborne, my prayers are with you for a speedy recovery, hurry back, everyone is waiting for you!

  47. Renata, being married to a member of the opposite sex, even, as in the case of Robert Osborne, a fictitous one, is by no means proof positive of a person’s sexual preference. Many homosexuals have entered into hetero unions, and for a variety of reasons.

  48. you morons he doesnt slur his words and hes 80 now and he couls pass for like 60 or 62 u freakin old bags. Ur just jelous of him id like to choke out anyone that makes fun of him hes the best host there as ever been. I am an aspiring actor and the longer it takes for my big breat the younger im going to be im going to be 80 ans still look no older thsn 50 u idiots age is all a mind set ill be a leading man till im over 100 and peoel lasugh cause there all retarded, U idiots dont know anything and the lightinghes prolly better looking than any of u morons. and i wish i can have tha fag tjhat called him gay in a room for just one min ur gay u fagot this is why i hate people age means nothing ill be playing football and jujitsu till im 80 ill be the best aging person eve to live and screw everyone that laughs at all this cause there all jelous negative retards. Robert is the best celebrity out there there will never be a better host ever ever Peoel just look for thigs to make fun of cause the insecure themselves esp when they see someone that twice there age looking better then themselves of corse peoel are going to be jelous and talk crap u losers get a life evey one of u idiots.

  49. I think James Dean, the real one, even now in a decomposed state, could write a better comment than this. How can you be an actor? How will you read your lines? Maybe you read better than you write — yeah — that’s gotta be it.

    Hey — listen, you frigging dope, the article did not mock Mr. Osborne. He was indeed slurring his words and having problems with his speech prior to his extended vacation. I was concerned about him and I expressed my concerns in the blog because I had received hundreds of letters from concerned subscribers.

    If you’re angry at one of the comments on here, you’ll haveto deal with it. I rarely delete a comment.

  50. I was only looking up Robert out of curiosity ( and I have a friend who has burning while urintaing) and after having watched him for years and years. And then I wrote a long and stupid medical opinion that was 100% wrong and mailed it to TheDamienZone because I think I am doctor — when in fact I am a psychotic. Then I closed my stupid comment with a snotty and wise ass comment — so Damien deleted it because he doesn’t tolerate snide douche bags like me.

    shyman <---fake email

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