Joe Franklin : Late-night pioneer dies at 88

Joe Franklin : Late-night pioneer dies at 88

Veteran television and radio personality Joe Franklin, who often is credited with pioneering the modern TV talk-show format with The Joe Franklin Show, died on Saturdayfollowing a battle with prostate cancer, the New York Times reports. He was 88.

“Joe Franklin invented the TV talk show. He never said ‘no’ to anybody and he gave everybody a break,” said Steve Garrin, a friend who produced and recorded Franklin’s radio interviews.

Franklin helped establish the basic format of the TV talk show as he sat behind a desk and interviewed a litany of people who often shared the same well-worn sofa in a studio Franklin once joked was the size of two taxi cabs.

He interviewed musicians from Bing Crosby to the Ramones, a tap-dancing dentist, a bounty hunter, amateur radio operator and the person who ran the restaurant where Franklin had just eaten.

“He wanted to give the wannabe’s, the nevers-be’s and the ones who were in the spotlight a break, a chance to mingle and get together,” Garrin said.

“Joe always would say: ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’ Joe was both,” he added.

Franklin, who also had an extensive career on radio, played himself in cameos in films set in New York such as “Ghostbusters” and “Broadway Danny Rose” and his show was parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by Billy Crystal.

“At the beginning, it was going to be a six month profession but it wound up being a half a century,” Franklin said in a March 2001 clip that he said was his 500,000th interview. In the light-hearted clip, he interviewed himself.

“The secret of my success is and always will be sincerity, and once you learn to fake that then, you’ve got it made,” he said.