THE BLOG
12/20/2013 02:11 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

Richard Heffner, RIP

©Portrait of Richard Heffner, by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
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Richard Heffner interviewed everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Martin Luther King to William F. Buckley Jr. His massively important, truly historic, trend-setting show, "The Open Mind" influenced all who attempted the format. He helped start WNET, wrote numerous books, and ran the Hollywood ratings board for many years.

Margalit Fox's NY Times obit is excellent. I especially like the ending about Heffner's work rating films. "As Professor Heffner made clear in interviews, the erudite decorum of "The Open Mind" was more than matched by the contentiousness of his film-ratings post. A particular bone of contention was "Scarface." "We were shocked that it got an X rating," the film's producer, Martin Bregman, said at the time. "The only reason I can think of why it originally got an X rating," he added, was that Professor Heffner "has a vendetta against us." Professor Heffner's rejoinder, reported in some quarters, is not suitable for publication in a family newspaper.

Dick Heffner was a great friend. He mixed the best whiskey sour on Lake Oscawana.

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Richard Heffner, Hollywood ratings chief with First Amendment advocate Karen Finley and sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.