Sir David Paradine Frost OBE (7 April 1939 – 31 August 2013) was a British television host, journalist, comedian and writer.
He rose to prominence during the satire boom in the United Kingdom when he was chosen to host the satirical programme That Was the Week That Was in 1962. His success on this show led to work as a host on American television. He became known for his television interviews with senior political figures, among them the Nixon interviews with US president Richard Nixon in 1977 which were adapted into a stage play and film. Frost interviewed all eight British prime ministers serving from 1964 to 2016, from Alec Douglas-Home to David Cameron, and all eight American presidents in office from 1969 to 2017, from Lyndon B. Johnson to Barack Obama.
Frost was one of the people behind the launch of ITV station TV-am in 1983. He was the inaugural host of the US news magazine programme Inside Edition. He hosted the Sunday morning interview programme Breakfast with Frost for the BBC from 1993 to 2005, and spent two decades as host of Through the Keyhole. From 2006 to 2012, he hosted the weekly programme Frost Over the World on Al Jazeera English, and the weekly programme The Frost Interview from 2012. He received the BAFTA Fellowship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2005 and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmy Awards in 2009.
Frost died on 31 August 2013, aged 74, on board the cruise ship MS Queen Elizabeth, where he had been engaged as a speaker. His memorial stone was unveiled in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in March 2014.
David Paradine Frost was born in Tenterden, Kent, on 7 April 1939, the son of a Methodist minister of Huguenot descent, the Rev. Wilfred John "W. J." Paradine Frost, and his wife, Mona (Aldrich); he had two elder sisters.
While living in Gillingham, Kent, he was taught in the Bible class of the Sunday school at his father's church (Byron Road Methodist) by David Gilmore Harvey, and subsequently started training as a Methodist local preacher, which he did not complete.
Frost attended Barnsole Road Primary School in Gillingham, St Hugh's School, Woodhall Spa, Gillingham Grammar School and finally – while residing in Raunds, Northamptonshire – Wellingborough Grammar School. Throughout his school years he was an avid football and cricket player, and was offered a contract with Nottingham Forest F.C. For two years before going to university he was a lay preacher, following his witnessing of an event presided over by Christian evangelist Billy Graham.
Frost studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, from 1958, graduating with a Third in English. He was editor of both the university's student paper, Varsity, and the literary magazine Granta. He was also secretary of the Footlights Drama Society, which included actors such as Peter Cook and John Bird. During this period Frost appeared on television for the first time in an edition of Anglia Television's Town And Gown, performing several comic characters. "The first time I stepped into a television studio", he once remembered, "it felt like home. It didn't scare me. Talking to the camera seemed the most natural thing in the world."
According to some accounts, Frost was the victim of snobbery from the group with which he associated at Cambridge, which has been confirmed by Barry Humphries. Christopher Booker, while asserting that Frost's one defining characteristic was ambition, commented that he was impossible to dislike. According to satirist John Wells, Old Etonian actor Jonathan Cecil congratulated Frost around this time for "that wonderfully silly voice" he used while performing, but then discovered that it was Frost's real voice.
After leaving university, Frost became a trainee at Associated-Rediffusion. Meanwhile, having already gained an agent, Frost performed in cabaret at the Blue Angel nightclub in Berkeley Square, London during the evenings.
Frost had several relationships with high-profile women. In the mid-1960s, he dated British actress Janette Scott, between her marriages to songwriter Jackie Rae and singer Mel Tormé; from 1970 to 1973, he was engaged to American actress Diahann Carroll; in 1974, he was briefly engaged to American model Karen Graham; between 1972 and 1977 he had a relationship with British socialite Caroline Cushing; in 1981, he married Lynne Frederick, widow of Peter Sellers, but they divorced the following year.
He also had an 18-year intermittent affair with American actress Carol Lynley.
On 19 March 1983, Frost married Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, daughter of the 17th Duke of Norfolk. Three sons were born to the couple over the next five years. His second son, Wilfred Frost, followed in his father's footsteps and currently works as an anchor at Sky News and CNBC. They lived for many years in Chelsea, London, and kept a weekend home at Michelmersh Court in Hampshire.
On 31 August 2013, Frost was aboard the Cunard cruise ship MS Queen Elizabeth when he died of a heart attack at the age of 74. Cunard said that the vessel had left Southampton for a ten-day cruise in the Mediterranean, ending in Rome. A post-mortem found that Frost had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Frost's son Miles died from the same condition at the age of 31 in 2015.
A funeral service was held at Holy Trinity Church in Nuffield, Oxfordshire, on 12 September 2013, after which he was interred in the church's graveyard.
On 13 March 2014, a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey, at which Frost was honoured with a memorial stone in Poets' Corner.
British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute, saying: "He could be—and certainly was with me—both a friend and a fearsome interviewer." Michael Grade commented: "He was kind of a television renaissance man. He could put his hand to anything. He could turn over Richard Nixon or he could win the comedy prize at the Montreux Golden Rose festival."
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