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Joe Franklin, Talk Show Pioneer and Friend of Gift of Life, Dies at 88

Michael Yurieff  | Published on 1/31/2015

Joe Franklin, who was often credited as the creator of the television talk show, died on Monday, January 24, 2015 in Manhattan at the age of 88. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Franklin as the longest running continuous on-air television talk show host.


During his sixty year career, Franklin's guests included Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Cary Grant, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Rudy Vallee, Jimmy Durante, Madonna, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and five U.S. Presidents including John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.


After retiring from his television show in 1993, Franklin concentrated on his overnight radio show, playing old records on WOR-AM on Saturday evenings and mentoring aspiring entertainers who sought an audience with him at his Times Square office. Franklin's celebrity interviews, known as "Nostalgia Moments," appeared daily on the Bloomberg Radio Network until shortly before his death this week. Steve Garrin, Mr. Franklin’s producer and longtime friend, said Mr. Franklin had never missed a scheduled broadcast in over 60 years on the air.


On July 29, 2011 Franklin attended a book signing at the Page One Resaurant in Glen Cove, New York. Franklin’s friend, author Harold Krainin, introduced his latest book “My Shorts, Straight Up with a Twist” and pledged a portion of the evening’s sales to RGOL USA. In attendance that evening were Dr. Alexander Hindenburg, President of RGOL USA, his wife Maria Hindenburg, Michael Yurieff, Executive Director of RGOL USA, and Gift of Life Inc. Board Member Gabor Karsai and his wife Eva. Upon learning about the Gift of Life, Franklin was very gracious and generous with his praise. Throughout the evening, Franklin engaged in witty repartee with the guests and ended with the quip, “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice.” Pictured above are Michael Yurieff and Joe Franklin, both friends of the author Harold Krainin.


He is survived by his son, Bradley Franklin; a sister, Madeline Kestenbaum; two grandchildren; and his longtime companion, Jodi Fritz.

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