Bob Dorian Dies: Actor, Magician, American Movie Classics Host Was 85

Denise Petski

Bob Dorian, actor, magician (The Amazing Dorian) and the first prime-time host of American Movie Classics, died June 15, his family announced. He was 85.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Dorian performed on the stage, radio, television and film. He appeared in features including Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and lent his voice to Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror classic The Evil Dead as an archaeologist whose tape-recorded readings from an ancient text resurrect a demon.

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He also had a recurring role on one of AMC’s first original series, Remember WENN, which premiered in 1996, but it is as American Movie Classics’ first prime-time host for which he is best known. The network launched in 1984 as a premium channel focused on classic movies. Dorian introduced the films in the comfortable setting of a living room, providing viewers with Hollywood history and behind-the-scenes trivia.

An avowed movie buff, Dorian wanted to exude his love for films to viewers. “We never use tape-overs,” he told the Dallas Morning News in 1994, explaining his process. “If I make a mistake, we leave it in. I want to seem like a human being who enjoys movies, not a superior professor talking down to an audience.”

His other film credits as an actor included independent Civil War film The Last Confederate (2005). He also performed frequently in regional theater productions, including the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J. He had recently retired to Florida.

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