RIP Underground TV Talk Show Legend Joe Franklin, “The King of Nostalgia”

joefranklinby Legendary Lew

If you were anybody who was anybody in show business, chances are you landed a gig talking to Joe Franklin. Franklin died on Sat. Jan. 24 of prostate cancer at age 88.

Dubbed as “The Wizard of Was,” Franklin was on TV for forty-three years (1950-1993), long outlasting Paar, Carson, Leno, Letterman, Steve Allen. In fact, he fathered the modern day talk show format with his congenial manner and outshined most of them with his encyclopedic knowledge of old-time show business.  He talked like (and dressed like) the best talent agent on Earth.

That knowledge allowed for amazing appearances on his show, not only for legends like Frank Sinatra, but for performers long forgotten or those who didn’t make many talk show appearances. Watching “The Joe Franklin Show” was like having the question, “Whatever happened to…?” answered instantly.  People like Anita O’Day, Arthur Prysock, Jack Gilford, Steve Reeves, Tommy Sands, Sally Kirkland and Carol Lynley showed up and proved they were still alive.

This, of course, made for some great shots by fringe entertainers, such as Sir Monti Rock III:

Here’s Joe talking to The Ramones or as Joe called them The RAYmones. They died before he did:

And talking to horror master Dario Argento:

And finally a guest Franklin said was his favorite:

Joe, you are now among the legends you loved.

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