- Joe Franklin
Joe Franklin (born Joseph Fortgang on
March 9 1926, Bronx, New York) is an American radio and television personality. From New York City, Franklin hosted 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.cite news |first=David |last=Hinckley |title=Joe Franklin: Truth in Packaging |work=New York Daily News |url=http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/1999/11/26/1999-11-26_joe_franklin_truth_in_packag.html
Known as "the king of
nostalgia" (he claims credit for having invented that use of the term), Franklin's highly-rated television and radio shows, especially a cult favorite to cable televisionviewers (WOR/WWOR was a superstationduring the latter part of his tenure) 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: he began his entertainment career at 16 as a record picker for Martin Block's popular "Make Believe Ballroom" radio program; he is an acknowledged authority on silent film; he has the largest private sheet music collection in the world; and he has counted among his friends many show business legends, from Tony Curtis(with whom he grew up) to old vaudevillians (on his television show, Franklin has described how as a very young boy playing in Central Park he even met George M. Cohan).
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. He interviewed over 10,000 guests during his 43-year TV run. His guests ranged from well-known novelty performers like Tiny Tim and
Morris Katzto popular entertainers like Bill Cosbyto legends like Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, John Lennon, but also frequently included (sometimes on the same panel) utterly 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 to the followers of its cult.
Franklin often boasted of his "discoveries," pointing out that a great many of today's well known talents such as
Elvis Presley[ [http://www.hudsonreporter.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=1246249&BRD=1291&PAG=461&dept_id=523584&rfi=8 The Hudson Reporter - A trip to Memory LaneJoe Franklin opens Manhattan restaurant, will be honored in Secaucus ] ] , Woody Allen, Barbra Streisandand Julia Robertsin fact 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.
After retiring from the television show, Franklin concentrated on an overnight radio show, playing old records on
WOR-AMon Saturday evenings. He currently interviews celebrities on the Bloomberg Radio Network and audio podcasts of his 2008 interviews are available at Bloomberg.com[ [http://www.bloomberg.com/tvradio/podcast/joe_franklin.html Joe Franklin's podcast interviews are available at Bloomberg.com] ] . An author, Franklin has written 23 books, including "Classics of the Silent Screen." [cite book|title=Classics of the Silent Screen |isbn=0806501812 |last=Franklin |first=Joe |publisher=Lyle Stuart| year=1983] His 1995 autobiography "Up Late with Joe Franklin" [cite book|isbn=0025407759|title=Up Late with Joe Franklin |last=Franklin |first=Joe |year=1995 |publisher=Scribners] chronicles his long career and includes the astounding 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".
Often seen as a good omen for new talk shows due to the length of his show's run, Franklin appeared on the first broadcasts of "
Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and " This American Life."
In 2005, Franklin became the inadvertent focus of controversy when, in the movie "The Aristocrats", the comedian
Sarah Silvermanmade an ironic allegation that he had raped her.
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