Pat Loud, the matriarch of An American Family, the first reality series on American TV, died yesterday.
The news was posted to the official Loud Family Facebook page,
“With inconsolable sorrow, we are sad to share the news with friends and family that on Sunday January 10 at 1:55pm PT, Pat Loud passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes.
She was snuggled up safe in her comfy home, attended by loving children Michele, Delilah, Kevin and Grant.”
Loud made history as part of An American Family, in 1973 in a PBS documentary created by Craig Gilbert that is often cited as really the first reality series.
It followed Loud, her husband, Bill, and their five children as they went about their daily lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. The show also documented the separation and subsequent divorce of Loud and her husband, as well as the coming out of their son, Lance, who is credited as the first openly gay TV personality.
Born in Eugene, Ore. in 1926, Loud attended Stanford University and earned degrees in world history and English literature. She then returned to her hometown and married Bill. Their first son, Lance, was born in 1951.
The family moved to Santa Barbara in 1962, with four children where they would begin their stint on television. Following the show’s end, Loud moved to New York’s Upper East Side and began a career as a writer, penning two books, Pat Loud: A Woman’s Story in 1974 and Lance Out Loud in 2012.
In 2011, HBO premiered Cinema Verite, a fictionalized interpretation of An American Family starring Diane Lane as Pat.
Pat moved to Los Angeles in the ’90s to be with Lance when he was diagnosed as HIV positive. Lance died from complications due to Hepatitis C in 2001. Pat and Bill got back together later in life. Bill died in 2018.
My old friend Kristian Hoffman was friends with Lance and the Loud family from his teenage years. He came to New York with Lance in the 70s to be a rock star.
Six years ago while visiting LA, Kristian and his bf Justin invited me to dinner, along with our mutual friend Rocky at Taix, and old school local fave French restaurant, which. has sadly, like so many restaurants, closed.
I had been town for a World of Wonder holiday party and the theme of my outfit was stars. I had bought a star bracelet for the occasion and I took it to Pat as a gift. We had a lovely dinner. She was a very sweet, smart, funny woman and Kristian considered her the mother he never had. (Mother relationships can be complicated.)
He said today of her,
“OM. You might already know what that means. Other Mom. The one who took care of me since I was 15. No matter how stupid I was…”
Justin and Kristian ate regularly with the Louds and were treated like family.
Pat’s biological children Kevin, Grant, Delilah and Michele, whom I never met, my heart goes out to them and all those who loved her.
Pat Loud was 94.
(Top & Bottom photo, Trey Speegle; via NBC News)