Pat Loud, ‘An American Family’ Matriarch, Dies @ 94

Pat Loud, whose life and whose family's dysfunction were laid bare on the 1973 PBS series An American Family, has died at her L.A. home at 94.

On Facebook, her grieving family announced:

“With inconsolable sorrow, we are sad to share the news with friends and family that on Sunday January 10 at 1:55pm PT, Pat Loud passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes. She was snuggled up safe in her comfy home, attended by loving children Michele, Delilah, Kevin and Grant ... Pat is survived by Kevin Robert, Grant Randolph, Delilah Ann and Michele Summers Loud. She was 94."

The family's wish for remembering Pat is unique:

“But … you know what she’d really like? Throw something delicious in the oven and let the aroma fill the house. At the stroke of 5pm, gather friends and family around a tray of savory treats. Fill a glass with ice and – if you really want to do it right – everyone take one, VERY LARGE vodka. Maybe (definitely) two. Then sit down to dinner at a crowded table. Tell stories, put music on, laugh, and make a lot of noise. Have seconds, clean plates. And love each other. She’d love that.”

Loud became a household name in 1973 when An American Family, which had been shot in 1971, aired — and aired her family's dirty laundry in a way that made it a template for what would become known as reality TV.

Asked in 2019 what made her sign on to have her family's every move filmed, Loud said:

“Honey, that is such a loaded question. You have no idea. [Laughs] There are so many answers to that. In the first place, we were only going to do it for two weeks. [Producer Craig Gilbert] was going to do [a family on] the West Coast, somewhere in the middle and then East Coast. There were going to be three or four different families. Then he decided to do it all on us. I don’t know why. I had many reasons I wanted to do it for that short period of time. Mainly, I was very proud of my children and Grant was such an outstanding, gifted singer and guitar player. I thought that would be good for him. And I was having marital problems. I thought, 'Maybe somebody ought to take a good look at this big family.' I was very naive. Very naive.”

The show aired in 12, hour-long installments from January 11-March 29, 1973. Having been edited down from 300 hours of raw footage, the show seemed to lean into negativity and strife, including the moment Pat Loud asked for a divorce from her husband, Bill Loud (1921-2018). It also, in the form of their flamboyant son Lance Loud (1951-2001), offered one of TV's first openly gay personalities.

After the show, Loud worked as a literary agent, living for a spell in England. She and her ex-husband moved back in together after Lance Loud's death from HIV and liver failure brought on by HIV.

In 2012, Pat Loud and editor Christopher Makos (b. 1948) published a book about Lance entitled Lance Out Loud.

In 2019, she told The Face of her longevity:

“I’m the last of the Mohicans, dear. Everybody my age is gone. I’ve got one foot in the grave but I’m going to hang around until we get rid of Trump.”

Well done, Mom.

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