After all, Franklin — who died on Jan. 24 of prostate cancer at age 88 — may not exactly have been a household name where you live, but over a 43-year career on New York City television he emerged as one of the nation’s most stalwart media champions of classic movies and the people who made them.
His Jan. 26 obit in The New York Times described him this way: A short, pudgy performer with a sandpapery voice that bespoke old fashioned show business razzle-dazzle. (On his The Joe Franklin Show, later Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane) he took his place behind his desk and in front of the camera day after day in the 1950’s, and night after night in the 1960’s, ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s.
Therefore, we were especially delighted that our modest Franklin remembrance drew the following two reader accounts of the man — and his quirky ways. First, this from Marsha Collock:
Joe Franklin’s “Down Memory Lane” was the first place I heard about silent stars and actually saw Buster Keaton. Before the internet he was one of the few resources for all things classic films. Thanks for an excellent post about an important figure.
And, from reader Jeff Woodman:
Nice tribute, guys — and I love that shot of him in his office.
I performed a number on Joe’s show in 1981 to promote a play I was appearing in — just before VCRs became ubiquitous, so alas, I have no copy of it. I was very young, and so terrified I don’t recall who any of the other guests were, but I’m wondering if Joe Morella’s experience was the same as mine.
Having only seen the show televised, it was completely disconcerting to find that Joe (Franklin) would look you in the eye, ask a question, and then, once they cut to you for your response, he turned away and concerned himself entirely with other things, seemingly returning his attention to you only at the precise moment his camera picked him up again!
No wonder his follow up questions always seemed to come from left field. (“Peanut butter — crunchy or smooth? Your thoughts…”) He was indeed one of a kind!
Thanks much to Marsha and Jeff. And yes, Jeff, Joe Morella’s recollections are similar. He says Franklin was a trip.