A man who was one of the first stars of what came to be known as reality television has died. Deadline reports that William Loud died Thursday of natural causes.
Loud reportedly died at home, surrounded by his surviving family members. He was 97.
Loud was the patriarch of the Loud family, which was featured on the PBS series “An American Family.” Filmed in 1971, the series ran as a documentary for one 12-episode season and continues to be credited with creating the modern reality show.
“The documentary was a cultural hotspot in its time, showcasing family turmoil and the coming out of Lance Loud, one of the family sons, who is credited as one of the first openly gay TV characters,” Deadline notes, adding that the show “spawned a nationwide discussion on the various issues spotlighted in the Santa Barbara, Calif. family. The resulting fallout led to the separation and divorce of Bill and Pat Loud.”