Joe Franklin - radio and TV personality - New York City
For now, here’s his Wikipedia entry until I write my own bit…:
Joe Franklin (born Joseph Fortgang on March 9, 1926) is an American radio and television personality. From New York City, Franklin is credited with hosting the first television talk show. The show began in 1951 on WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV) and moved to WOR-TV (later WWOR-TV) from 1962 to 1993.
After retiring from the television show, Franklin concentrated on an overnight radio show, playing old records on WOR-AM on Saturday evenings. He currently interviews celebrities on the Bloomberg Radio Network.
An author, Franklin has written 23 books, including Classics of the Silent Screen. His 1995 autobiography Up Late with Joe Franklin chronicles his long career and includes claims that he had dalliances with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and that Veronica Lake “threw herself at me, but I always refrained.” He has appeared as himself in countless films, notably Ghostbusters and Broadway Danny Rose.
Frankin’s show was often parodied by Billy Crystal during the 1984–1985 season of Saturday Night Live. Franklin was also a pioneer in promoting products such as Hoffman Beverages and Ginger Ale on the air.
Known as “the king of nostalgia”, Franklin’s highly-rated television and radio shows, especially a cult favorite to cable television viewers and his long-running “Memory Lane” radio programs, focused on old-time show-business personalities.
Franklin has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music, musicians and singers, the Broadway stage shows, the films and entertainment stars of the first half of the 20th Century, and is an acknowledged authority on silent film.
He began his entertainment career at 16 as a record picker for Martin Block’s popular “Make Believe Ballroom” radio program.
Among Franklin’s own idols, as he frequently told viewers, were Al Jolson, whom he literally “followed around” as a teenager in New York, and Eddie Cantor, who eventually began buying jokes from the young Franklin and whose Carnegie Hall show Franklin later produced.
Franklin would delight his audience with trivia about the most obscure entertainers from past generations and equally unknown up-and-comers from the present. His guests ranged from novelty performers like Tiny Tim, and Morris Katz to popular entertainers like Bill Cosby and Captain Lou Albano to legends like Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but also frequently included (sometimes on the same panel) unknown local New York punk bands, self-published authors, “tribute” impersonator lounge singers, and the like, giving the show a surreal atmosphere that was part of its appeal.
Many of today’s well known talents such as Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Julia Roberts got their first television exposure on The Joe Franklin Show. Others, notoriously shy of live interviews, made frequent appearances on Franklin’s programs: Frank Sinatra, for instance, appeared four times.
In addition to his TV Talk Show, Joe appeared regularly with Conan O’Brien. He’s also seen on “The David Letterman Show,” “Live With Regis And Kathy Lee,” and has been mentioned several times on the hit cartoon series “The Simpsons.”
Producer Richie Ornstein has worked side-by-side with Joe Franklin for decades and was a standard feature on Joe Franklin’s Show to interact with guests and to discuss trivia.