Famed British broadcaster Sir David Frost died on Saturday night aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship. Frost spent almost 50 years in the media business, but was perhaps best known for his interviews with former US President Richard Nixon.
Frost’s family announced his death to the BBC, which has been attributed to a heart attack. Along with journalism, Sir David’s career also included comedy writing, and daytime television presenting.
Sir David was born in Kent and studied at Cambridge University, where he met future comedy greats Peter Cook, Graham Chapman, and John Bird.
Following college, he got a job at ITV and was eventually asked to head up the BBC program That Was The Week That Was. It ran for one year.
Prime Minister David Cameron spoke out about Sir David Frost’s death, saying, “My heart goes out to David Frost’s family. He could be — and certainly was with me — both a friend and a fearsome interviewer.”
USA Today notes that Frost was the only person to interview all six British prime ministers who served between 1964 and 2007. He also interviewed all seven US presidents in office between 1969 and 2008.
While he was popular in Britain and started his career in US television, Frost was not internationally known until he landed a series of interviews with Nixon in 1977. The pair’s dramatic face-off ended with Nixon admitting, “I let the American people down and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life.”
The interview spawned a hit play and the Oscar-nominated movie Frost/Nixon, which came out in 2008. Frost later admitted that his questions toward the end were “totally off-the-cuff.” The broadcaster realized near the end of the tense interview that he didn’t have what he wanted.
Finally, Sir David told Nixon that Americans wanted to hear him apologize for his wrongdoing and acknowledge his power abuse. He added that “unless you say it, you’re going to be haunted for the rest of your life.” After more pressing on the interviewer’s side, Nixon relented.
Sir Robert Frost’s family released a statement about his death, saying, “A family funeral will be held in the near future and details of a memorial service will be announced in due course.”
[Image by Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons]