September 1, 2013

David Frost, 74, noted for post-Watergate Nixon interviews

The veteran broadcast journalist wrote a dozen books, won numerous awards and was knighted.

The Associated Press

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Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, right, with broadcaster David Frost in California in 1977. Frost died Saturday night at the age of 74, his family said in a statement on Sunday.

The Associated Press

Sir David Frost
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David Frost interviewed the world’s most powerful and famous in a TV career that spanned 50 years.

The Associated Press

The face-off went on to spawn a hit play, and in 2008 a new generation was introduced to Frost's work with the Oscar-nominated movie "Frost/Nixon," starring Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon.

Frost was born on April 7, 1939, in Kent, England, the son of a Methodist preacher.

The young Frost began television hosting while still a student at Cambridge University, and soon after graduation he was approached by a BBC producer to front "That Was The Week That Was."

He went on to host a sketch show called "The Frost Report" and became a regular figure on U.S. television. Behind the camera, Frost also co-founded two television companies, London Weekend Television and breakfast station TV-am, churning out a prolific amount of programs.

Over the years his interviewees included a wide-ranging roster of politicians and celebrities, from Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev to Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto to leading entertainment figures such as Orson Welles and the Beatles.

He was the only person to have interviewed the last eight British prime ministers and the seven U.S. presidents in office from 1969 to 2008. Besides the Nixon interviews, one of the more memorable moments included a tense interview with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over the sinking of the Argentine warship during the Falklands conflict.

"He could be – and certainly was with me – both a friend and a fearsome interviewer," Cameron said.

In later years Frost kept up his probing questioning of political leaders, although some came to criticize him for being "too nice" to his subjects. Somewhat incongruously, he also hosted a game show called "Through the Keyhole" that spied on the homes of celebrities from 1987 to 2008.

"His sense of humor shone through everything he did," Richard Brock, a producer who worked with Frost at Al-Jazeera, told the broadcaster. "He wasn't all heavyweight, political interviews. He really got a kick out of some of the lighter stuff."

Frost, who wrote about a dozen books, won numerous awards and was knighted in 1993. Most recently he was hosting programs for Al-Jazeera English, where he had worked since its launch several years ago.

He is survived by his wife, Carina, and their three sons.

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