Gil Noble, the legendary chronicler of the African diaspora in New York, the nation and the world as host of the long-running WABC-TV show “Like It is,” died Thursday.
He was recovering from a stroke he suffered last year. Dave J. Davis, general manager of WABC-TV, told “Journal-isms” that Noble died peacefully about 12:30 p.m. in a hospice in Wayne, N.J., with his family beside him. He was 80.
“Noble is a throwback to an earlier time when TV news had less time and fewer yuks,” Newsday columnist Les Payne wrote in 1996. “After refusing to clown and chitchat on-air years ago, the stately anchor was eased out of his spot on the evening news programs. Landing in his briar patch of public service TV and documentaries, Noble has produced some of this station’s most riveting programs over the years.”
“Brother Gil Noble has had me on ‘Like It Is,’ several times,” Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor-in chief of the Black Star News wrote after Noble’s stroke forced an end to the long run of “Like It Is.”
“Now, often, when I enter an MTA bus, drivers refuse to accept my fare, saying they are happy to drive someone who has been on ‘Like It Is.’ Countless people have stopped me on the streets of Harlem just to shake my hand. Young ladies on the subway have asked permission to leave their seats and come sit next to me — all because of my appearances on ‘Like It Is.’ This is how much Gil Noble and ‘Like It Is,’ are admired and loved.”
Noble was also a pioneer in a business sense. In 2008, he secured the copyright to all of the “Like it Is” shows from the 1960s onward. He wanted them used to educate schoolchildren and interested adults.
The shows now belong to the Noble Family Trust, and the New York-based National Black Archives of Film and Broadcasting Inc. was created to make them available.
“This is something I’ve not seen done,” Noble’s lawyer, Joseph Fleming, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. “[For] an employee of a local TV station to be able to get ownership of the show is quite remarkable.”