Longtime BFCA member Fred Saxon, a fixture on San Diego television for nearly two decades, Fred died on Sept. 27th of a heart attack. He was 76.
“Fred was a vital, genuine, multi-dimensional ball of energy,” said Lori Dang Saxon, his partner who frequently accompanied Fred to screenings, press junkets and the Critics Choice Awards. “Best of all, he was a good guy with a kind heart.”
“Fred was extremely bright and a wealth of information about Hollywood,” said friend and fellow critic Steve Oldfield. “He was so humble and unassuming, I’m sure many on the junket circuit had no idea everything he had accomplished.”
Fred was CNN’s first Hollywood-based entertainment reporter, where he produced and hosted his own show. He was a featured contributor on the Tonight Show and reported by satellite for two programs in Australia. Fred covered entertainment for San Diego’s KUSI for nine years and also worked for three other stations in the market. In 1994, he received the Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement’ in the Performance/News category and received his second Emmy in 2002 for his “Fred Saxon’s Inside Entertainment,” which he produced for FOX 6 San Diego (the former XETV).
Fred played a radio announcer in The Prize Fighter and he appeared as a newscaster in the movie Death Wish 2 and the TV shows Dark Skies, Silk Stockings and The Incredible Hulk, among others.
Fred came to Los Angeles after receiving an Emmy nomination for his work as an entertainment reporter at WXIA-TV in Atlanta. Before beginning his career in television, Fred worked in the music business, as a writer, producer and promoter.
Fred learned to play the saxophone when he was 9 years old and as a teenager and young adult, he toured with his band, The Sunliners, including a 10-week stint in New York City performing an off-Broadway show called “Hey Let’s Twist” at the famed Peppermint Lounge.
As a fan of all aspects of movie-making, Fred usually referred to himself as a “movie reviewer,” instead of a movie critic. One of his typical observations about poorly-rated films: ‘When you think of the hundreds of people involved in the making of a movie, how many of them actually want it to fail? Don’t you think they try to do the best work they can?’
One of Fred’s favorite films was Forrest Gump. Lori says Fred’s life followed a similar story arc, returning to his native Michigan last year. “He was able to reconnect with his many friends and family,” she said. “He finally was able to realize his dream of living on a lake and he knew that Michigan was where he wanted his life to end – full circle.” Lori reports that half of Fred’s ashes have been spread over the lake he lived on in Michigan; the other half will rest in Hawaii – two places close to Fred’s heart.
For those who would like to reconnect with Lori Dang Saxon, her email is: [email protected]