(CNN) — Longtime New York City radio and television personality Joe Franklin has died. He was 88.
“Joe went unexpectedly and passed away Saturday night,” friend and former producer Steve Garrin said.
Franklin was a fixture on late-night radio and TV in New York, working at WJZ and WOR, and recently at the Bloomberg Radio Network.
“The last two weeks were the first time he ever missed a broadcast in over 60 years” Garrin said.
Though he never broke onto the national scene, Franklin was “in many ways, the pioneer of the modern TV talk show format,” according to his website, which says he interviewed more than 300,000 guests.
The likes of Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby and Liza Minnelli got early exposure on his show.
He also interviewed offbeat characters who would give “The Joe Franklin Show” a “great uniqueness. On any given night you might find a world renown artist sitting next to a balloon folder from New Jersey,” his website says.
He was remembered as a “NYC legend” and “radio and TV icon who was the spirit of a hard-working New Yorker” by fans on Twitter. Others said that his “accidental absurdism was like an Ionesco play every night” and that “Joe Franklin was every New Yorker’s oddball, congenial neighbor.”
Franklin, who was often parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by Billy Crystal, also played himself in such films as “Manhattan,” “Ghostbusters” and “Broadway Danny Rose.”
He was an avid collector of entertainment nostalgia. His website says he had more than 50,000 movie stills, 170,000 magazines, 20,000 playbills and 200,000 pieces of sheet music. Photographs show a lot of his collection crammed into his office.
Actress Martha Plimpton tweeted: “All the best things about New York are going away. RIP Joe Franklin.”
And a tweet from Actor Harvey Fierstein read: “Joe Franklin gone!!!! Damn! He gave me my first TV exposure and I certainly wasn’t alone in that.”
That sentiment may be his enduring legacy, as comedy writer Chris Regan tweeted: “Before YouTube, Twitter, etc., the ambitious-but-not-necessarily-talented had few options. Places like The Joe Franklin Show gave them voice.”