David Frost, the British broadcaster whose interviews of historic figures like Henry Kissinger, John Lennon and, most famously, Richard M. Nixon often made history in their own right, died Saturday aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, where he was scheduled to give a speech. He was 74.
The cause was a heart attack, his family said.
Mr. Frost's highly varied television career mirrored the growth of the medium, from the black-and-white TV of the 1960s to the cable news of today.
He knew how to make his guests "make news," as the television industry saying goes, either through a sequence of incisive questions or carefully placed silences. He showcased both techniques during his penetrating series of interviews with Nixon, broadcast in 1977, three years after Nixon was driven from office by the Watergate scandal, resigning in the face of certain impeachment.
Mr. Frost not only persuaded Nixon to end a self-imposed silence, he also extracted an apology from the former president to the American people.
The sessions, described as the most-watched political interviews in history, were recalled 30 years later in a play and a film, both named Frost/Nixon. In the film, Mr. Frost was portrayed by Michael Sheen and Nixon by Frank Langella.
Since 2006, Mr. Frost's television home had been Al-Jazeera English, one of the BBC's main competitors overseas. He brought prestige to the news network, while it empowered him to conduct the kind of newsmaker interviews he most enjoyed.
"No matter who he was interviewing, he was committed to getting the very best out of the discussion, but always doing so by getting to know his guest, engaging with them and entering into a proper conversation," Al Anstey, the managing director of Al-Jazeera English, said by email.
Among guests in recent years were Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, actor George Clooney and tennis star Martina Navratilova. A new season of Mr. Frost's program, The Frost Interview, began in July with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The season was to continue through mid September.