Born Joseph Fortgang in The Bronx, N.Y., Franklin began working behind the scenes on entertainment shows as a teenager. He officially launched his broadcast career in the 1950s and, as the host of The Joe Franklin Show, was a pioneer in creating what is now the common TV talk show format (sitting behind a desk conducting interviews). His more notable celebrity guests included Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, as well as Bruce Springsteen and Al Pacino when they were "up-and-comers."
Franklin is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running continuous on-air TV talk show host. He was also impersonated by Billy Crystal on Saturday Night Live.
After leaving television, Franklin focused on radio and could be heard daily on the Bloomberg Radio Network. In more than 60 years, Franklin never missed a broadcast until last Tuesday.