LOS ANGELES — William G. “Jerry” Buck, a columnist who chronicled the television industry for The Associated Press in New York and Los Angeles, died Friday at 85.
During his career, he wrote about the rise of cable television, the videocassette and the growth of political TV coverage, among many other topics. His son Scott Buck says his heart stopped Friday after a long decline in health.
Buck, who was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, joined the United States Air Force in 1948 and was stationed for two years in Tokyo before starting his professional journalism career with the Lake Charles American Press. He also served in the Army at Fort Benning in Georgia before being discharged in June 1955.
Buck began his 32-year tenure with the AP in 1960 in the Richmond, Virginia bureau as a general news reporter. Five years later, he was relocated to the New York City offices, where he worked as an entertainment reporter.
By 1971, he was on the move again to the Los Angeles bureau, where he covered television and movies, interviewing actors, directors, producers and stars and writing about their triumphs and scandals, from Sonny and Cher’s divorce to Steven Spielberg’s return to television.
He also wrote a regular column on the TV industry.
From his perch, Buck was on the forefront of communicating innovations in television. In a 1979 article, Buck spoke about audiences’ views that TV shows look alike. In 1991, he wrote an article titled “Reality shows may be the TV trend of the future.”
While the article was about “Rescue 911,” ”60 Minutes” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Buck saw the future that led to the “Real Housewives” and the various Kardashian shows.
“It goes deeper than merely the fact that the shows cost less to make,” Buck wrote. “Reality shows touch viewers’ feelings in a way fiction can’t.”
Later, he used his knowledge of show business to craft the mystery novel “A Blood Red Rose.” He also wrote the western novel “Wheeler’s Choice.”
Buck also did political coverage for the AP. He retired in 1992.
He and his wife, Carol, had seven children and were married for 63 years.
“My father was a journalist to the core. No snark, no spin, no angle, he simply told the story the way it was. And people understood that and appreciated that, which is what allowed him access to celebrities that were otherwise off-limits. He was trusted,” said son Scott Buck, a writer and producer who worked on the series’ “Six Feet Under” and “Dexter.”
“He simply told the story, a very old-fashioned journalist.”