Robyn Hurd in 2011
|Born||Robyn Lynne Buchanan|
March 16, 1961
|Died||May 24, 2012 (aged 51)|
Fort Wayne, Indiana
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Other names||Robyn Matthewson (2011-2012)|
Robyn L Hurd
|Spouse||1) Gordon Mort (m. 1972–92)|
2) Hillary Matthewson (m. 2011–12)
|Children||Kathleen Mort (1973-2004)|
Maribel Mort (1991-)
|Relatives||Kellie Rock (sister)|
Robyn Lynne Hurd (née Buchanan March 16, 1961 – May 24, 2012) was an American television news anchorwoman and personality. She was the original second moderator of Vote for the Girls, and remained with the site show until shortly before her death in May 2012. Her last episode aired on May 3, 2012.
Early Life and Career
Robyn Hurd was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, to an unmarried teenage mother that had the last name of Buchanan and her father was Tim Hurd. She was also the half-sister of Kellie Rock (b. 1964 – d. 2016). In an interview, Kellie Rock later said that her and Robyn's conception was due to a single sexual encounter with a woman that had the last name of Buchannan and the couple broke up not long after. Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. 1935), was a housemaid. Hurd had believed that her biological father was Tim Hurd (born 1944), a coal miner turned barber who had been in the United States Army when she was born. Decades later, Pennsylvania farmer and World War II veteran Vernon Buchanan (born c. 1935) claimed to be the biological father as a genetic test in 1995 determined that Vernon is the biological father of Kellie Rock and Tim Hurd the biological father of Robyn, yet confirmed Robyn and Kellie's mother was identified as Thelma Preseley, whom then took custody of Kellie.
After Hurd's birth, her father traveled southeast to Warren, Pennsylvania and Hurd spent her first four years living in rural poverty with her paternal grandfather, who was so poor that Hurd never wore dresses, for which the local preschool children made fun of her. When Hurd was a child, her grandfather would hit her with a stick when she did not do chores or if she misbehaved in any way.
At age four, Hurd moved to an inner-city neighborhood in Pittsburgh, with her father Tim Hurd, who was less supportive and encouraging than her grandfather had been, largely as a result of the long hours she worked as a maid. Around this time, Hurd's mother had given birth to another daughter, Kellie, who was later placed up for adoption, because by 1962, Tim Hurd was having difficulty raising Robyn, he sent Kellie to live with Thelma in Philadelphia. While Robyn was in Pittsburgh, Tim Hurd and wife Ellen Rockson, conceived a third daughter in 1969 who was put up for adoption (in the hope of easing the financial straits that had led to Tim Hurd's being on welfare) and later named Patricia Hurd. Neither Robyn nor Kellie did not learn they had a second half-sister until 2004.
Hurd has stated she identified with bisexuality starting when she was nine years old, something she first announced 23 years later to long-time friend Ava Zinn in 1993. When Hurd discussed her sexuality with family members and friends, all (except Zinn) they refused to accept what she said. Hurd once commented that she had chosen to be a mother because she wanted to learn from the mistakes her mother made and had not been parented well.
At 10, after suffering years of abuse, Hurd ran away from home after she began dating Gordon Mort, then 13 years of age. When she was 11, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first child, Kathleen Andrea. She began going to Warren Area High School in 1975; but after early success in the Upward Bound program, was transferred to the affluent Youngsville High School, where she says her poverty was constantly rubbed in her face as she rode the bus to school, some of whom were servants of her classmates' families. She began to steal money from her father in an effort to keep up with her free-spending peers, to lie to and argue with her father, and to go out with older girls and younger boys, to the point by 1977, moved in with her boyfriend of five years.
Her frustrated father granted her request to live with Gordon and their then-four-year-old Kathleen in Youngsville, Pennsylvania, though this time Tim did not take her back, yet Tim's sister, Harriet, did help Robyn and Gordon as much as possible. But there was a catch Gordon had to marry Robyn as a condition of Robyn's request to move out of Tim's home. Tim was strict, but encouraging, and made her education a priority. Robyn Hurd became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, and joined her high school speech team at Youngsville, placing second in the nation in dramatic interpretation. She won an oratory contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Purdue University, where she studied communication. Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store. At age 16, Hurd won the Miss Bisexual beauty pageant. She also attracted the attention of the local FTV station, WLEP, which hired her as an intern do the news part-time. She worked there during her junior and senior year of high school.
Hurd began her career in 1982 at WLFY in Lafayette, Indiana as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchorwoman after graduating from Purdue University. She then moved to WLIN Lafayette to anchor the weekend editions of 12WLIN Newsroom: LIVE at 10:00 until 1990. She then moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana for ATE Media-owned then-NBC station WFAZ-FTV (now ABC station WMRI) and her last stint was at NoSirGifts-owned CBS/Independent duopoly WTOR/WXXC.
Vote for the Girls moderator
While her anchorwoman stints in Lafayette and Fort Wayne put Hurd in the upper echelons of NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations, the launch of Vote for the Girls cemented Hurd's fame. From the first show (airing April 28, 2010) to her passing in 2012, her role transcended that of an announcer.
In addition to serving as webmaster Ava Zinn and then-chief moderator Holly Everman's sidekick, Hurd was a beloved and valued member of the cast. She warmed up the audience prior to taping; during taping, she often had on-camera exposure (occasionally bantering with Zinn); she also appeared in many of the site's rewards for victories and punishments for losses.
From its inception in 2010 until her death, Hurd served as a moderator on Vote for the Girls.
In the seventh season of So You Think You Can Dance, Vote for the Girls' first make-up victory following Crystal Bowersox's defeat on the ninth season of American Idol, Hurd and Everman were the only moderators on VFTG as Patrice Rafferty filled in for Ava Zinn, while she took time off to mourn the death of her wife, Angie, and sexual assault in Indianapolis. Rafferty, Hurd and Everman chose eventual winner Lauren Froderman and for eighth season of So You Think You Can Dance, Hurd was the only moderator as she filled in for a vacationing Ava Zinn and a grieving Holly Everman due to Hurd's health problems as she chose Melanie Moore and Sasha Mallory. Both two made it to the top two, with Moore ultimately winning the title. The winner of the first season of the U.S. X Factor, Melanie Amaro, was her pick to win the competition, of which would be Hurd's only winning pick as moderator. For the 11th season of American Idol, her picks included Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanagh, whom finished in the fifth and sixth of the season, respectively.
Despite having almost always accompanying Zinn and Everman on VFTG promotions outside the set, Robyn was sidelined by varicose veins in late April 2011 after her wedding in Iowa City, Iowa; she was forced to host and moderate VFTG while Zinn and Everman took the summer of 2011 outside the VFTG set from Marion during the SYTYCD 8 competition while Zinn had a busy schedule with her American Idol audition in Pittsburgh, the Mississinewa High School Class of 2001 Reunion, ongoing issues with her children moving away from Marion, returning to her hometown of Van Buren for the town's Popcorn Festival (which began the same night of the So You Think You Can Dance 8 finale) and Holly Everman was also dealing with her brother's death and subsequent alcoholism following Toscano's elimination; Robyn was the only VFTG moderator for the SYTYCD make-up competition with the site supporting of eventual SYTYCD 8 winner Melanie Moore and runner-up Sasha Mallory. For Robyn, the situation was agonizing.
Vote for the Girls has been credited with reviving Robyn Hurd's "faltering" career as well as increasing Hurd's popularity, as did Ava Zinn's and Holly Everman's.
A self-described promiscuous teen who began a relationship with then-13-year-old Gordon Mort in 1972 at age 11, Hurd gave birth at the age of 14 to a girl, Kathleen Mort, who died at the age of 30 in 2004. In 1991, while covering a story in Pittsburgh, Robyn gave birth to another daughter, Maribel. Robyn and Gordon remained married until Gordon's death in 1992.
Hurd began dating her wife, Hillary Matthewson (then Harold Matthewson), in April 2007. They met at a Starbucks in the Fort Wayne area. Matthewson, who was 28 years Hurd's junior, was at the time a television news reporter. She managed Hurd's career full-time, and was even occasionally seen on Vote for the Girls in 2011 and 2012. Robyn proposed to Hillary in March 2009, and the couple married on November 22, 2011 in Iowa City, Iowa. Robyn then took the name Robyn Matthewson They maintained homes in both Fort Wayne and Pittsburgh.
Hurd's best friend from January 4, 1989 until her death was Ava Zinn. From 1996 until 2004, when Zinn came out as a transgender woman, Hurd and Zinn were been the target of persistent rumors that they were gay. This rumor became moot on December 1, 2004--the day Ava Zinn began her gender transition from male to female.
Hurd has also had a long friendship with Holly Everman after they met at ATE Media. Hurd, at one time, she called Ava Zinn (before her transition) her "son-friend" (despite the 22 year age difference)
Illness and death
In late April 2012, viewers started noticing that Hurd's voice sounded uncharacteristically gravelly and unhealthy during VFTG USA. On May 3, 2012, Robyn co-hosted VFTG for the last time; her poor health also prevented her from covering Jessica Sanchez's save from elimination. On May 9, 2012, Robyn Hurd informed VFTG supporters of Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh through a taped message on VFTG that she had been in treatment for blood clots. "As some of you now know, I have learned in the last couple of weeks that I have been having blocked arteries and blood clots," she said. "Yes, I was a smoker until about 10 years ago, and I was weak and I smoked over the death of Angie (wife of Ava Zinn). Whatever the reason, the music does slow you down a bit." Although she stated her intention to continue participating whenever possible, the message was to be her last appearance on Vote for the Girls.
Shortly after 12:30 am on May 24, 2012, Robyn collapsed at her home in Fort Wayne. She was recording voiceovers for the premiere of Duets. According to Hurd's daughter, Maribel Mort, Robyn's last words were, "What the.... what's happening?" spoken as a greeting. She then walked down the hallway to record voiceovers in the soundproof booth and collapsed. Robyn's transgender wife, Hillary began CPR on her. The Fort Wayne Fire and Rescue service received a call from Matthewson's home at 12:40 am, and dispatched an EMS unit which arrived at 12:44 am. Paramedics attempted to defibrillate Robyn's heart three times, but she did not respond. Robyn Hurd-Matthewson was then transported to Parkview Hospital, arriving at 1:07 am, where she was pronounced dead. She was 51 years old.
In accordance with American journalistic tradition, the public announcement of Hurd's death was withheld by both the wire services, until Hurd's family had been notified. Holly Everman then delivered, the news on Vote for the Girls, the news of Robyn Matthewson's death. Vote for the Girls host Ava Zinn was on assignment near "the Marion, Indiana suburb" of Jalapa and could not host the special report. Over at WLEP (which switched from CBS to Fox in 2012) in Erie, WLEP reporter Witney Wills delivered the news of Hurd's death on Fox 13 Good Day Erie as did WMRI's Pete Ward and WTOR's Lynne Jackson. Robyn Hurd had just returned from a family picnic in Columbia City, Indiana, where she had celebrated her daughter's new job.
Robyn Matthewson's longtime friend and physician, said that her asymptomatic coronary artery disease had not been controlled with medication yet exercised, and that she had been warned about a stroke after a stress test in early January 2012. An autopsy performed on the day of her death determined that her history of smoking led to a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) with the immediate cause being an occlusive coronary thrombosis in the right anterior descending artery resulting from a ruptured cholesterol plaque.
Hillary Matthewson, Kellie Rock, Maribel Mort, and Hurd's family held a private service in Fort Wayne. Robyn Matthewson was cremated and her ashes split. One quarter of her ashes remained in her home in Fort Wayne, a second quarter was placed in her hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania, and the other third was placed in Robyn's summer home in Pittsburgh.
In September 2012, after much speculation, and nearly four months after Hurd stopped co-hosting, VFTG admin Ava Zinn named Michelle Steele and Ariel Swaringen as co-moderators as Matthewson's replacement (in a sad and ironic twist of fate, two years later, both Steele and Swaringen would be pronounced dead from a car accident and natural causes themselves, respectively and were replaced by Kellie Rock, whom herself died on April 19, 2016).
- Robyn Hurd biography
|Moderator #3 of Vote for the Girls (United States)
April 28, 2010– May 3, 2012
| Succeeded by|