Jac Venza, who delivered culture to public television, dies at 97

By making entertainment as well as education part of its mission, he gave the world 'Great Performances' and other enduring programs


Jac Venza, a shoemaker’s son who almost single-handedly delivered to the proverbial “vast wasteland” that was American television in the 1960s and ’70s an oasis of cultural programming, including “Great Performances” and “Live From Lincoln Center,” died on Tuesday at his home in Lyme, Conn. He was 97.

His death was confirmed by his spouse, Daniel D. Routhier.

Mr. Venza never attended college. As an actor, he pronounced himself “dreadful.” As an aspiring artist, he began his career in Chicago by designing scenery for the Goodman Theater and window displays for the Mandel Brothers department store. But while still in his 30s, he began playing a vital role in bringing art to public television.

Click here to read more.