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Known for his wit and warm personality, critic Joel Siegel gave film reviews and interviewed film stars on Good Morning America for more than 25 years.
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Critic, journalist, author, playwright. Born on July 7, 1943, in Los Angeles, California. Known for his wit and warm personality, Joel Siegel shared his latest film reviews and conducted interviews with numerous film stars on Good Morning America for more than 25 years. Staying in his hometown, he went to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he studied history. In 1965, he spent some time as a civil rights worker in Macon, Georgia. There he worked on a voter registration drive and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. That same year Siegel graduated cum laude from UCLA.
After college, Siegel worked as a freelance writer, contributing stories to such publications as Rolling Stone and articles to the Los Angeles Times. He even worked as a joke writer for Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night that Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. Also around this time, Siegel worked for an advertising agency as a copywriter and producer. One of his projects involved developing names for Baskin-Robbins ice cream. In addition to his professional career, Siegel served in the United States Army Reserves from 1967 to 1973.
Beginning his career as a broadcast journalist, Siegel worked as a radio newscaster for KMET-FM in Los Angeles in 1972. Later that year, he made the move to New York City and to television. Siegel joined the staff of a local CBS affiliate as a correspondent. After four years with the station, he became a film and theater reviewer for a competitor, WABC-TV. The first film he reviewed was reportedly Magic starring Anthony Hopkins, according to the Los Angeles Times. A well-respected critic, Siegel received five New York Emmy Awards for his work. He also hosted a show on the Academy Awards, an event he would cover extensively for the rest of his career.
In 1981, Siegel brought his reviews and his trademark moustache to a national audience as a correspondent and entertainment editor for Good Morning America. Outside of the show, he proved to be a creative talent in his own right. Siegel wrote the book for the musical The First about African-American baseball great, Jackie Robinson, which premiered in the fall of 1981. The next year, he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical.
While his career was soaring, Siegel was struggling with a personal tragedy. His first wife, Jane Kessler, a film editor at CBS, had a brain tumor and died in 1982. The couple had been married since 1976. He remarried three years later, but his union with Melissa Nina De Mayo later ended in divorce.
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