William Loud, father of one of the first reality TV families, dead at 97

William Loud, the patriarch of one of the first reality TV families, died today of natural causes. His death was announced on the Loud Family Facebook page.

According to the post, he died at 9:40 AM and was attended by all surviving members of his family. He was 97 and died at home.

“An American Family” was a television documentary that was filmed from May 30 through December 31, 1971, and first aired in the United States on the Public Broadcasting Service. The series ran one season of 12 episodes.

The documentary was a cultural hotspot in its time, showcasing family turmoil and the coming out of Lance Loud, one of the family sons, who is credited as one of the first openly gay TV characters.

It was one of the first reality TV series and spawned a nationwide discussion on the various issues spotlighted in the Santa Barbara, Calif. family. The resulting fallout led to the separation and divorce of Bill and Pat Loud.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to The Rescue Train at therescuetrain.org.

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