New York TV/Radio Legend Joe Franklin Dead At 88
January 26, 2015 at 3:57 AM (PT)
JOE FRANKLIN, the legendary NEW YORK television and radio host whose nostalgia-laden talk shows served as a template for talk and variety shows for generations, died SATURDAY (1/24) after a battle with prostate cancer in NEW YORK. He was 88.
FRANKLIN (born JOSEPH FORTGANG) wrote jokes for EDDIE CANTOT before working on WNEW-A/NEW YORK's "MAKE BELIEVE BALLROOM" with host MARTIN BLOCK. He launched his television show, "JOE FRANKLIN'S MEMORY LANE" (later simply "THE JOE FRANKLIN SHOW") on ABC O&O WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV)/NEW YORK and then moved to WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in 1962.
The show, which ran until 1993, featured the genial FRANKLIN, known for his love of old-time entertainers and his famously cluttered, memorabilia-filled TIMES SQUARE office, hosting eclectic panels including everyone from vaudeville acts to punk rockers, A-list actors, and unknown would-be celebrities and pitching sponsors like MARTIN PAINT ("It ain't just paint"); MADONNA, THE RAMONES, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, FRANK SINATRA, CHARLIE CHAPLIN, ANDY WARHOL, WOODY ALLEN, JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO, JOHN WAYNE, and BING CROSBY were among the many big names to appear on the show. He also hosted a weekend show on WOR-A/NEW YORK for several years, and hosted a feature on BLOOMBERG News WBBR-A/NEW YORK until this month.
While both radio and TV shows were local NEW YORK productions, FRANKLIN achieved national notoriety from WOR-TV's "superstation" status, appearing on cable systems across the country in the '70s and '80s; he appeared in several movies (including "GHOSTBUSTERS") as himself and was parodied by BILLY CRYSTAL on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," NEW JERSEY-based TV host "UNCLE FLOYD" VIVINO, and "THE SIMPSONS."
Here's video of FRANKLIN interviewing JOEY and MARKY RAMONE in 1988: