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Longtime Host of Current-Affairs Program Dies NY Times

A historian, educator and TV personality who was a pioneer in current-affairs programming has died. The New York Times reports that Richard D. Heffner, the creator and longtime host of the public television program “The Open Mind,” died Tuesday in Manhattan.

Heffner died of a cerebral hemorrhage, the story reports. He was 88.

Heffner was the author of “A Documentary History of the United States,” which was originally published in 1952 and is now in its eighth edition. He served on the faculty of Rutgers University, and was still a professor of communications and public policy at his death, the piece adds. He had taught there since 1964.

“The Open Mind” was broadcast on Saturdays on PBS stations across the U.S., with Heffner serving as its producer and host since 1956 until he died, the story notes.

“Recent segments taped by Professor Heffner will continue to be broadcast in the coming months, his wife said, but the fate of the program after that has not yet been determined,” the piece reports.

In its early years, the program looked at issues such as McCarthyism, alcoholism, homosexuality and segregation, while guests over the years included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Margaret Mead.

richard d. heffner.jpgRichard D. Heffner