Robert Hughes, the Austrailian-born longtime chief art critic for Time Magazine who was an original co-host of the ABC News magazine series 20/20, passed away on Monday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York following a long illness at age 74.
A combative and eloquent art critic with the distinctively rounded vowels of his native land, Mr. Hughes co-hosted the debut episode of 20/20 back in June, 1978 with a North Carolina-born, Oxford-educated magazine editor named Harold Hayes.
The episode did not go well. As required, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Hughes always addressed each other on the show as Hayes and Hughes. Perhaps the most notorious segment was a sensationalistic expose by Geraldo Rivera on greyhound racing, which included a gruesome scene of dogs chasing and dismembering a live rabbit in training.
Also included on the show was a claymation figure of then-President Jimmy Carter, mouthing to Ray Charles' recording of "Georgia On My Mind."
After scathing reviews (and weak ratings) of the opener, Harold and Robert got the boot and were replaced by Hugh Downs, after which the show's presentation was gradually improved.