Joe Franklin

A New York institution, Joe Franklin spent his sixty-year career earning such self-described titles as "The King of Nostalgia," and even "The King of New York," his unassuming, stocky stature belying the glint of ... Read more »
Born: 03/09/1926 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (17)

The Signs of the Cross 2016 (Movie)

(Actor)

Space Ghost Coast to Coast 1993 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

NYTV: By the People Who Made It 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Tracey Ullman Takes on New York 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Bum Rap 1993 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

A Day in the Life of Joe Franklin 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

B-Men 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Norman's Corner 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

That's Adequate 1989 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Broadway Danny Rose 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Ghostbusters 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Comeback Trail 1971 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

A New York institution, Joe Franklin spent his sixty-year career earning such self-described titles as "The King of Nostalgia," and even "The King of New York," his unassuming, stocky stature belying the glint of showbiz sparkle that made him so beloved. Born Joseph Fortgang in 1926, Franklin was raised in the Bronx by Austrian-Jewish immigrants. The young man was interested in old fashioned entertainers from early on, seeking out appearances by Al Jolson and George M. Cohan and submitting his own joke ideas to radio shows as a teenager. His father was a humble merchant, selling from a pushcart to tourists in Times Square, but Franklin's love was entertainment, and more specifically, the fascinating people who provided it. In 1945, Franklin was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Texas for Basic Training. It was soon discovered, however, that Franklin had a slight physical defect that prevented him from meeting the military's requirements: he had flat feet. Life in the armed forces hadn't appealed to Franklin in the first place, and he was glad to be sent home, where he immediately scored a job writing for "The Kate Smith Hour" radio show. By the next year, the 20-year-old was given a small timeslot to perform his own show on WMCA radio devoted to pop songs and old, vaudeville era classics. He called the show "Vaudeville Isn't Dead." Franklin moved from radio to television in 1951, broadcasting on New York ABC affiliate WJZ-TV, and eventually moving to WWOR. Though the name of his program would change several times over the coming years, it was known predominantly as "Memory Lane." An avid collector of memorabilia, Franklin famously worked out of an office brimming with treasures and notes, including a shoe owned by Greta Garbo and a ukulele played by Arthur Godfrey. Franklin enjoyed discussing his favorite people and moments from days gone by on his show, though his format would also include copious interviews with the strange cast of characters that made the entertainment world so fascinating. Franklin took pride in talking to celebrities at every level of fame, from sideshow "plate twirlers" to major stars, including then up and comers like Woody Allen, Bette Midler, Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, and Michael Jackson. By his own account, he never used cue cards or teleprompters, and asked his questions extemporaneously. During the '50s, Franklin fell for a blonde model interviewing for secretary job at his studio named Lois Meridan. The two were married live on the TV show "Bride and Groom" and they would later give birth to a son, Bradley, though the couple eventually ended their relationship, living amicably in different states. Franklin's show continued to broadcast on local New York television until it was cancelled in 1993, but Franklin would continue to host a show on the Bloomberg Radio Network. He also lent his name to a comedy-club restaurant chain known as Joe Franklin's Comedy Club, which was open until 2002. Franklin often boasted that he had never missed a broadcast in over sixty years. He passed away on January 24, 2015 at the age of 88.

Milestones

2015

Broadcast a series of celebrity interviews called "Nostalgia Moments" for Bloomberg Radio up until his death.

1962

Took his program to WWOR, where it would remain for almost four decades.

1951

Moved his show from radio to television, broadcasting on New York ABC affiliate WJZ-TV.

1946

Began broadcasting his own show on WMCA radio devoted to pop music and old, vaudeville classics.

1944

Was hired as a writer on "The Kate Smith Hour" radio program.

Bonus Trivia

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Was drafted into the Army at age 19, but was soon discharged for having flat feet.

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Married his wife live on the TV series "Bride and Groom."

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