Everyone who met Joe Franklin, who passed away yesterday, has a story about him to tell. This is mine, although it’s probably valid for hundreds if not thousands of other people, too.
I spent a lot of years volunteering at the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention in Newark, NJ. One of the things I did was act as assistant to Fred Berney, he of Satellite Media Production, who videotaped the convention for posterity. Since the videographer “ran the room,” it was their responsibility to make sure everything was working and the dais was prepared for each panel throughout the day. In that role, I frequently spoke with Joe, who brought The Joe Franklin Show to the convention each year. (It is thanks to Joe that I can honestly say, “I shot Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara,” every time I see one of them on television.)
At every meeting, I would say something clever like, “Hello, Mr. Franklin, great to have you with us again this year,” to which he would inevitably respond with, in his lightening-fast delivery and unabashed New York accent, something like, “Hey, hiya Charlie, haven’t seen you in a while…how’ya been, Charlie?”
Now look, I’m not an idiot. I know he was grabbing my name from a quick glance at my convention name tag. I understand intellectually that he didn’t know me from Adam, and was just doing a schick he performed countless times every day.
And I didn’t care. For a moment, the great man knew me. And I was on top of the world.
Now if the guy could take a nobody like me and make him feel that important, imagine what he could do to someone who actually mattered. That is exactly how Joe Franklin became Joe Franklin…how he managed to have the great and the small show up in his studio and spend some time chatting and trading quips.
Joe is one of the many things I desperately miss with the end of the FOTR convention. And now, we’ll all miss Joe. But thanks, Mr. Franklin, for making me feel so d*mned special.