NEW YORK, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- New York radio and television icon Joe Franklin has died, his friends and producers announced. He was 88.
A former employee of WJZ and WOR, he had been working for Bloomberg Radio Network until this month. Franklin died of natural causes, but the exact nature of his death has not been disclosed.
"Joe went unexpectedly and passed away Saturday night," producer Steve Garrin told CNN. "The last two weeks were the first time he ever missed a broadcast in over 60 years."
Richie Ornstein, his producer and co-host, confirmed to The New York Post Franklin recently fell ill and was treated briefly at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital before he was discharged to a hospice facility.
"I've been with Joe for 30 years. He is the real deal," Ornstein said. "If he had to do it again, he wouldn't change a beat."
Franklin's website said he interviewed more than 300,000 guests, including Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby and Liza Minnelli, throughout his distinguished career, which included hosting The Joe Franklin Show starting on WJZ in 1950. The last edition of the program aired in 1993 on WWOR.
He was lampooned by Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live, and played himself in films such as Manhattan, Ghostbusters and Broadway Danny Rose.