Robert A. “Bob” Wilson, a Dallas television executive and the father of actors Luke and Owen Wilson, died Friday after battling Alzheimer’s disease for years, Luke Wilson confirmed to the Dallas Morning News.
He was 75.
Wilson was a prominent fixture in the local Dallas TV realm after taking the reins of public affairs programming for the city’s public television affiliate KERA-TV in 1967, where he launched the Jim Lehrer-hosted “Newsroom.”
Lehrer thanked Wilson for helping him get his start in TV journalism at KERA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2011, which Wilson was too ill to attend, according the Dallas News.
“I am one of the people in the room who can say I won’t be here without Bobby Wilson,” Lehrer said at the time.
Also in attendance was former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, who also had Wilson to thank – it was his go-ahead that let KERA be the first American outlet to broadcast “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
Son Owen Wilson, 48, known for his comedic roles in films like “Wedding Crashers” and “Zoolander” opened up about his father’s then year-long battle with Alzheimers to The Dallas News in 2015.
“It is a rough thing,” he said at the time. “It’s one of those things where if somebody had said 10 years ago, when my dad and I were joking around, having a putting match, that this is the position your dad’s going to be in, where he basically needs 24-hour care, you’d think, ‘Gosh, I won’t be able to handle that. That’s just not possible’….You have no choice but to accept it.”
Owen also credited his ailing father for the sense of humor that made him famous.
“For me and my brothers, there just wasn’t a bigger influence on us,” he said. “Maybe it sounds trite or something, but I really believe that his spirit gets carried on through me, the way I like to joke around.”
Wilson is survived by his wife, Laura, sons Owen, Luke and Andrew, and several grandchildren.