William Loud, Patriarch of America’s First Reality TV Family, Dies at 97

The Louds were featured in the 1973 PBS documentary series “An American Family”

Last Updated: July 27, 2018 @ 7:19 AM

William Loud, patriarch of the family featured in the 1970s PBS documentary show “An American Family” which was widely considered the first U.S. reality TV series, died Thursday from natural causes. He was 97.

The family announced his death Thursday evening on Facebook.

At 9:40 am on July 26, William Carberry Loud passed away in Los Angeles, CA of natural causes. Attended by all surviving…

Posted by The Loud Family on Thursday, July 26, 2018

The PBS docuseries aired from Jan. 11 to March 29, 1973. The series was originally intended as a slice-of-life depiction of a typical upper-middle-class family, but instead, it chronicled sweeping social changes. It documented William Loud and his wife, Patricia, separating, and the groundbreaking coming out of their son, Alanson.

The show drew over 10 million viewers during its initial run. A decade later, HBO followed up with a sequel, “An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later.” The experience of the Louds was later the basis for the HBO film “Cinema Verite,” starring James Gandolfini, Tim Robbins and Diane Lane.

“An American Family” would go on to have a tremendous impact on American culture, serving as inspiration for MTV’s “The Real World.” That show would inspire a wave of reality programming that continues to thrive.