by: Edie Stokes
Joe Franklin was-and is still-called Mr. Nostalgia from his earlier days on radio and TV where he interviewed stage and screen personalities down ‘Memory Lane’.
When I spoke with the ‘Master Interviewer’ at his office, I felt I was going back in time. He looked and sounded like he had some 50 years ago. The office was swamped with posters, music, records and CD’s attesting to Joe’s rich background in show business. He has written over 20 books about his experiences throughout the years.
Mr. Nostalgia would light up the nighttime hours, starting at midnight, with humorous chit-chat and interesting personalities. Joe Franklin invented the talk show, starting a new trend. He has been a radio and TV personality for over 45 years, setting a high in the Guinness Book of World Records. In the course of his career, Joe interviewed five U.S. Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, as well as some of Hollywood’s royalty, such as Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and even Shirley Temple. He loved to help performers and at one point tried to reunite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis after their split. Joe also gave many people their first exposure—Barbara Streisand, Billy Crystal and Al Pacino among others.
Joe Franklin went to Benjamin Franklin High School in the Bronx and palled around with a neighbor, Bernie Schwartz, who later became Tony Curtis. He remembers Tony fondly.
Joe had some favorite singers—naming two ‘oldies but goodies’- – Kate Smith and Al Jolson. He said his favorite performer was Eddie Cantor because he made people laugh; something much needed in the depression years.
Joe’s favorite interview was the one he did with Bing Crosby. He really enjoyed his personality. When Joe Franklin does an interview, he is always sincere and caring about the person he’s speaking with.
Joe recently performed at the Metropolitan Room to a sold-out crowd, his versatility extending to stand-up comedy.
Joe Franklin is another ‘oldie but goodie’ and when he smiles, he can still light up the room!