1988-Russell_Harty RUSSELL HARTY
Born September 5, 1934; died June 8, 1988
Russell Harty was a British television presenter of arts programmes and chat shows.

He got his first break in 1970 presenting the arts programme Aquarius, that was intended to be London Weekend Television‘s response to the BBC‘s Omnibus.

In 1972, he was given his own series, Russell Harty Plus (later simply titled Russell Harty), conducting lengthy celebrity interviews, on ITV, which placed him against the BBC‘s Parkinson.

Harty remained on ITV until 1980, at which point his show moved to the BBC. Harty interviewed the Jamaican American singer Grace Jones on the show in November 1980. After he had interviewed Jones and turned away from her to address another guest, Jones appeared to become offended and started repeatedly hitting him. Initially shown on BBC 2 in a mid-evening slot, Harty’s chatshow ran until 1982 before being moved to an early evening BBC 1 slot in 1983 where it was now simply titled Harty. The show ended in late 1984, though Harty would continue to present factual programmes for the BBC for some time afterwards.

He began working on a new series Russell Harty’s Grand Tour for the BBC in 1987. In 1988, Harty became ill with hepatitis B and started treatment but died from liver failure caused by the infection.  Harty was homosexual and during this time there were numerous tabloid allegations about his life and, at Harty’s funeral, his friend, Alan Bennett, commented in his eulogy that “the gutter press finished [Harty] off”.