John J. O'Connor, a television critic for The New York Times whose 25-year tenure included the coming-out of Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, died on Friday at age 76. The cause was lung cancer, according to Seymour Barofsky, his partner of 47 years.
An obituary published in The New York Times said that O'Connor joined the newspaper as a television critic in 1971 and retired in 1997. The Bronx native chronicled an industry undergoing sweeping changes, including the advent of the miniseries, the rise of cable, and the groundbreaking Ellen episode.
"Mr. O'Connor remained on the job just long enough to review the 1997 coming-out episode of Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom Ellen," reported the Times. "He found it 'a sensitive transition' made with 'refreshing candor and disarming humor.' He marveled, however, that what is often 'a delicate, if not traumatic' rite of passage for gay men and women was now being used as 'a promotional tool.'"
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