The First ‘Real Housewife’ Pat Loud Passes Away At 94

While reality television and specifically, The Real Housewives franchise has presented a litany of larger than life personalities to the American public, none of them would have been possible had it not been for the Loud family of the PBS docu-series An American Family, specifically Pat Loud (who passed away this week at the age of ninety-four.) Chronicling the lives of the seemingly “ordinary” Loud family of Santa Barbara, CA, the show unexpectedly peeled back many of the layers on issues that many families were most likely having at that time. From their son Lance Loud emerging from the closet on-screen to parents Bill & Pat Loud separating and subsequently divorcing, the Loud family gave America a peek behind the suburban curtain far before it was trendy to do so. 

Photo Courtesy-PBS

The remaining members of the Loud family announced Pat’s passing on The Loud Family Facebook page earlier this week, saying in part “Pat Loud was a fierce, inflexible, forthright matriarch and loyal champion of outsiders and iconoclasts,” it continued. “Her door was never locked and there was always room at her table. Never one for regrets or reflection, she moved forward in life with enthusiasm and courage. A letter from her often closed simply, ‘Excelsior!’ It is Pat’s love for her son Lance though, that will remain one of her biggest legacies to the LGBT community. As one of the first LGBT characters for many to ever see in their own living rooms, her dedication to Lance remained unwavering and she became known as a fierce advocate in her own right. The statement went on to say “when eldest son Lance was diagnosed as HIV+, she returned to Los Angeles, where she became an indefatigable advocate for his health through the 1990s.” Much of this is documented on the PBS site documenting Lance Loud! A Death In An American Family which was broadcast on PBS in 2003. (Lance Loud passed away from liver failure caused by a Hepatitis C & HIV co-infection on 12/21/2001 at age 50.)

It was during a New York Times Table For Three conversation though, that many of today’s reality-television watchers got to know Loud, courtesy of one of New York’s most polarizing Real Housewives. Loud sat down with journalist, author and Real Housewives of New York Carole Radziwill to discuss loss, entering the world of reality television, and Loud’s son Lance. The conversation is deep, raw, and shows that while there is a definite distinction between what these two women presented on the small screen, what they provided to the world is so, so much larger. 

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