George Page created, hosted and narrated the PBS series Nature, which became one of the most watched documentary series in the world. Now WE know em

george-page

George Henson Page was born March 31, 1935, in rural Georgia.

His father owned a funeral home, and by the age of 14, George began using his deep voice at a local radio station as host of a show called “Obituary Column of the Air.”

In 1957, George Page graduated from Emory University. Two years later he was hired by WSB-TV, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, where he reported on the civil rights movement.

He was then promoted to foreign correspondent for NBC News and covered the Vietnam War.

In 1968, George directed and narrated “We Won’t Go,” an examination of the growing resistance to the draft.

In 1972, George moved to PBS headquarters in Washington, where he worked as assistant to the network’s president until joining the New York City PBS Channel Thirteen a year later. There, he served as director of science and natural history programming, supervising shows like “Travels,” “Medicine at the Crossroads” and “The Brain.”

As narrator of “The Brain,” George pointed out that in a three-pound brain “all things are possible: love, charity, hate, hope, fear, Beethoven’s Fifth, Apollo XIV, the wheel, mass murder, ‘Hamlet,’ the hula hoop, the pyramids.”

 Nature

George was known for his love for nature and his unique and mellifluous voice. He soon developed an innovative idea for a weekly series of in-depth stories from the natural world.

This subject matter was far more esoteric than anything that had ever been on TV.

Then on October 10, 1982, New York’s PBS Thirteen debuted its wildlife program Nature, created by George Page.

The show was a weekly one-hour show about various animals and ecosystems, sometimes going for minutes without any narration, just the sound and the beauty of the images.

But its beginnings were tenuous to say the least.

NATURE’s Executive Producer Fred Kaufman was a part of the NATURE series from its inception.

George and the production team settled upon an approach they still maintain to this day: show viewers the natural world; never tell them what they should feel. This commitment to objectivity allowed the series to focus on compelling stories and inspiring filmmaking. “The goal of the series was always to explain the natural world — animal behavior, ecosystems. The subplot was always conservation,” says Kaufman.

“We were all kind of learning as we went along. In those days it wasn’t quite like it is today. Nobody thought it would be a 25-year series. In the early days it was about how inexpensively we can do this. We had to fundraise and overcome lots of hurdles. But we did very well.”

From the ice fields of Greenland to the African savanna, from the Australian outback to the beaches of Polynesia, the tall, sturdily built George Page guided viewers to the variety of wildlife: a tiny fig wasp in Central America, a hulking Komodo dragon in Indonesia.

From 1982, when “Nature” was first broadcast, until his retirement, George Page was the host and narrator of nearly 300 episodes.

In 1986, host George Page was nominated for best Outstanding Individual Achievements in Informational Programming.

In 1987 and again in 1988, the program received Emmy Awards for outstanding informational series.

George Page’s Nature series would eventually grow to be one of the highest-rated and most popular shows on PBS.

In 1990, Emory University, the school Page had graduated from in 1957, awarded him with the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters, citing his “contributions to science education in the United States”.

In May 1995, George Page was awarded another honorary degree from Pace University, for helping television viewers “understand and celebrate in all its diversity the world in which we live.”

When throat cancer forced George to retire in 1998, NATURE was left without its voice. And the series’ producers were left with the difficult decision about how to go on without George. “I felt strongly that we weren’t going to have another host right away,” says Kaufman. “Since George narrated the shows and hosted them they had a very specific identity and sound.”

Upon retiring from the show, George wrote the book Inside the Animal Mind, published in 1999.

George Page, the creator and resonant on-air voice of the award-winning public television series “Nature,” died June 28, 2006 at his home in Equinunk, Pennsylvania at the age of 71.

Now WE know em

 

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