Joe Franklin, Local Talk Show Pioneer, Dies at 88

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Joe Franklin dead at 88.

“The Joe Franklin Show” was a Gotham latenight staple on WWOR-TV from 1962 to 1993. Joe Franklin, who became a New York institution by presiding over one of the most compellingly low-rent television programs in history, one that even he acknowledged was an oddly long-running parade of has-beens and yet-to-bes interrupted from time to time by surprisingly famous guests, died on Saturday in a hospice in Manhattan.

Franklin, 88, took ill a few days ago and was treated briefly at Lenox Hill Hospital before he was discharged to a hospice, said Richie Ornstein, his longtime agent. Franklin often is credited with developing the standard TV talk show format, sitting behind a desk while interviewing wanna-be celebrities, minor celebrities and the occasional bona fide celebrity. He was the spirit of the New York streets, the hard-working hustler who made it to the big time because it never occurred to him that he wouldn’t or couldn’t. Franklin, born Joseph Fortgang in The Bronx, knew every musician from Al Jolson to Frank Sinatra to Weird Al Yankovic, and every comedian from Jack Benny to Billy Crystal.

Although he never gained much fame outside of New York, Billy Crystal famously parodied Franklin’s look and rapid-fire style on “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. Cobb once,” Franklin went on. “He never got over the fact they chose Frederick March to do the part [of Willy Loman] in the movie of ‘Death of a Salesman.’” Another show featured pro wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano with pianist Mark Birnbaum and an inventor named Jesse Colodner who displayed a car fire extinguisher that included a knife so drivers or passengers could use to cut off their seat belts.

He took his place behind his desk and in front of the camera day after day in the 1950s and night after night in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Garrin said he remembered how Pacino, after he became a Hollywood movie star, told Franklin in a private meeting: “Joe, why don’t you interview me now that I’m somebody? Garrin recalled how Franklin, who was parodied by Billy Crystal on “Saturday Night Live,” hired a young Bette Midler as his studio singer and gave a chance on his show to every up-and-comer trying to make it big: Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen and Dustin Hoffman among them. Tuesday was the first scheduled broadcast Franklin had missed in more than 60 years, said Garrin, who worked with him for 20 of those years, booking all his interviews and recording the shows in his studios in Times Square between 1991 and 2010. (TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

WJZ-TV, as the station was known then, had not been signing on until late afternoon before the premiere of “Joe Franklin — Disk Jockey” on Jan. 8, 1951. Almost swallowed by books, records, tapes and mountains of paper, Franklin would calmly assure a visitor that if something was important, he could find it.

He booked Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby and Liza Minnelli as guests when they were just starting out, and hired two other young performers, Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, as his in-house singer and accompanist. “My show was often like a zoo,” he said in 2002. “I’d mix Margaret Mead with the man who whistled through his nose, or Richard Nixon with the tap-dancing dentist.” Mr. He played himself in the movies, including Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” — which was perfect, since Joe and Broadway Danny shared more than an affinity for Manhattan’s longest diagonal street. Bob Diamond, his director for the last 18 years of his television career, said that there were a few times in the days of live broadcasts when the show had to start without Mr. He celebrated his 40th anniversary on television by interviewing himself, using a split-screen arrangement. “I got a few questions I’m planning to surprise myself with,” he said before he began.

He got his first real job on the Kate Smith radio show and graduated to helping picking records for Martin Block’s groundbreaking radio show “Make Believe Ballroom.” “I had a good ear,” Franklin would say years later. “I knew that music. It’s timeless, it’s ageless.” Franklin’s encyclopedic knowledge of an era that seemed much less distant 50 years ago formed a cornerstone of his shows. By the time he was 21, he had a new name, a radio career, a publicist and a too-good-to-be-true biography invented, he wrote in “Up Late,” by a publicist. Robinson — “all my childhood heroes” — when the radio personality Martin Block hired him to choose the records played on Block’s “Make-Believe Ballroom” on WNEW. Franklin settled in at WOR in the mid-60s with his “Memory Lane” program — “that big late-night stroll for nostalgiacs and memorabiliacs,” as he described it.

He owned a shoe of Greta Garbo’s, a violin of Jack Benny’s and a ukulele of Arthur Godfrey’s — not to mention 12,500 pieces of sheet music and 10,000 silent movies. F. seen ’round town with model Lois Meriden?’ ” Soon, too, she was accompanying him to the studio for his 6:30 a.m. broadcast. “Lois made faces at me through the control room window, wiggling her ears and her nose,” Mr. His survivors include his son, Bradley Franklin; two grandchildren, Billy and Sara; a younger sister, Margaret Kestenbaum; and his longtime companion, Jodi Fritz.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Joe Franklin, Local Talk Show Pioneer, Dies at 88".

* Required fields
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site