Patricia Loud Dies: ‘An American Family’ Matriarch & First Reality TV Mom Was 94

By Erik Pedersen, Dino-Ray Ramos

Courtesy of Facebook

Patricia Loud, the matriarch of the Loud family in the TV documentary An American Family, died Sunday at home from natural causes. She was 94.

An American Family Matriarch Dead Pat Loud
Patricia Loud, lower right, in ‘An American Family’ Everett Collection

The news of Loud’s death was confirmed on the official Loud Facebook page. “With inconsolable sorrow, we are sad to share the news with friends and family that on Sunday January 10 at 1:55pm PT, Pat Loud passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes. She was snuggled up safe in her comfy home, attended by loving children Michele, Delilah, Kevin and Grant.”

Loud was born on October 4, 1926 in Eugene, OR. She graduated from Stanford University in 1948 where she studied world history and English literature. Upon returning to her hometown, she met William Loud, and they would go on marry in Mexico City. Their first son, Alanson “Lance” Russell Loud, was born in June 1951.

She and her family entered the spotlight as the subjects of what is considered the first American reality television series. Filmed from May 30-December 31, 1971, PBSAn American Family followed the daily life of the Loud family, an upper-middle-class clan based in Santa Barbara, CA. What initially was a look into the Louds’ life became a series that chronicled the divorce of William and Pat Loud.

An American Family Matriarch Dead Pat Loud
Patricia Loud, seated at right, in ‘An American Family’ Everett Collection

The documentary was a cultural hotspot in its time, showcasing family turmoil and the coming-out of Lance, who is credited as one of the first openly gay TV personalities. He died in 2001, and William Loud died in 2018 at 97.

An American Family aired one 12-episode season on PBS.

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During her time featured in the series, Loud made appearances on The Dick Cavett Show and The Mike Douglas Show as the series had caught the attention of American viewers.

In 2011, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini took a deep dive into the reality television series with Cinéma Vérité. Written by David Seltzer, the HBO film featured Diane Lane as the matriarch, alongside Tim Robbins as Bill Loud and James Gandolfini as Craig Gilbert.

Cinéma Vérité went on to garner multiple nominations for the Golden Globes and the Primetime Emmys. Lane landed a nom for her depiction of Patricia Loud.

In lieu of flowers, the family is grateful for any donations to be made in Pat Loud’s name to The Rescue Train at

Read the Facebook post and watch the special video tribute below.

Scott Shilstone contributed to this report.

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