Public Television Pioneer Richard Heffner Dead at 88

Heffner

Longtime host of “The Open Mind” died at home on Dec. 17, son says

Richard Heffner, advocate of New York public television and creator of current events series “The Open Mind,” died on Wednesday of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage, according to his son.

Heffner was a professor of communication and public policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey and taught at the college’s School of Communication and Information for nearly 50 years.

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He was influential in establishing public television, helping found the first PBS station (what is now WNET Channel 13) in the New York area. It was on that channel that Heffner created and hosted “The Open Road,” where he interviewed newsmakers from Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Era to President Jimmy Carter.

Heffner also served as chairman of the Classification and Rating Administration of the MPAA for 20 years until 1994.

Heffner is survived by his wife Elaine; sons, Daniel and Andrew, and their wives, Beth and Carla; and grandchildren Alexander, Jeremy, Zachary and Sophia.

For the record: A previous version of this post misidentified “The Open Mind” as “The Open Road.” TheWrap regrets error.