Longtime ‘New York Times’ TV Critic Dies at 76

By: E&P Staff

Longtime New York Times television critic John J. O’Connor, 76, died Friday at his Manhattan home. He was diagnosed with lung cancer just four weeks ago, his partner of 47 years, Seymour Barofsky, told the Times.

O?Connor joined the Gray Lady in 1971 as a television critic and remained in that position until his retirement in 1997. During his tenure of more than 25 years, he critiqued an era where television was changing from the big three networks to hundreds of cable and broadcast channels.

He covered all aspects of television during his career, from criticizing the questionable historical accuracy of the 1977 mini-series ?Roots? to debating the ratings face-off between ?The Cosby Show? and ?The Simpsons? (concluding that ?The Simpsons? were more in touch with harsh reality). Toward the latter part of his critical career, he shared his duties with the late Walter Goodman, who covered documentaries and news shows while O?Connor reviewed fictional television.

O?Connor also frequently contributed essays to the Times? Sunday Arts & Leisure section.

Born on July 10, 1933, to two Irish immigrants, O?Connor received his undergraduate degree from City College of New York and his master?s degree from Yale. He began his career as a copy editor at The Wall Street Journal in 1959, and by the time he left to join the Times, he had been promoted to arts editor and theater and dance critic.

In the 1980s Barofsky adopted a son, Eliezer, and he and O?Connor raised him until he died of lymphoma at age 7. In addition to Barofsky, O?Connor is survived by two of his three brothers, William O?Connor, of Manahawkin, N.J.; and Joseph O?Connor, of the Bronx.

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