William Loud was an American businessman and World War II veteran.
Loud was the patriarch of the family featured in the 1970s PBS documentary show An American Family, widely considered the first U.S. reality TV series.
The series aired from January 11 to March 29, 1973. The series was originally intended as a slice-of-life depiction of a typical upper middle-class family, but instead it chronicled sweeping social changes. It documented Loud and his wife, Patricia, separating, and the groundbreaking coming out of their son, Lance.
The show drew over 10 million viewers during its initial run. A decade later, HBO followed up with a sequel, An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later. The experience of the Louds was later the basis for the HBO film Cinema Verite, starring James Gandolfini, Tim Robbins, and Diane Lane.
An American Family would go on to have a tremendous impact on American culture, serving as inspiration for MTV's The Real World, as well as a wave of reality programming that continues to this day.
Loud died July 26, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California. He was 97.