Broadcaster Alistair Cooke

For 21 years, Alistair Cooke introduced American viewers to British TV dramas on public-television's "Masterpiece Theatre." He left in 1992.

British-born Mr. Cooke had come to the United States in the 1930s on a two-year fellowship to study at Harvard and Yale. He stuck around and became a US citizen in 1941.

Cooke began his broadcasting career as a US-based movie critic for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Then in 1946 he began writing and broadcasting a weekly BBC radio spot called "Letter From America."

Cooke was already well-known in Britain when he was asked to be the first host of "Masterpiece Theatre" in 1971. He turned it down at first, thinking it would conflict with "Alistair Cooke's America," another PBS project in the works. His daughter persuaded him to do "Masterpiece," the show that made him a household name in the US.

Cooke lives in New York and still broadcasts "Letter From America" - "without missing a week!" exclaims his assistant, Patricia Yasek. Cooke has no plans to retire.

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