A Writing on the Net SM



Click here for home page

Up Late With Joe Franklin
By Joe Franklin with R.J. Marx
Copyright 1995 Joe Franklin and R.J. Marx
Autobiography recalling his most memorable moments with some of the most unique acts and biggest personalities of all time.

Note from Frank Sisco:
The book is chock full of exciting tales of Joe's relationships with so many interesting people. Here are just a few copied from the book:
Duke Ellington
One famous musician who was on my show used to tell Hal Stone, my right-hand man, "Hold my pot till the show's over." That was Duke Ellington. I loved Duke. I had dinner with him about six times. At dinner, he'd always have his dessert first, because he said he knew he wouldn't have room for it at the end.
Georgie Jessel, George Burns, and a Toupee
George Burns used to break up Jack Benny. George Burns just had to wink or belch and Jack Benny would fall over laughing. Georgie Jessel used to break me up the same way. I guess it's no secret-a few people in the industry knew it-that George Burns, when he got tired of his toupees, would send them to Georgie Jessel. Jessel would wear them for a year or two. Jessel had seven different toupees, one for every day of the week. Each one with a little more hair-he was trying to make people believe that his hair was growing naturally! And when Jessel got through with his toupees, he would send them to a singer named Sid Gary, a short man with a booming voice. Sid Gary had been the vaudeville partner many years ago of George Burns. So it had all sort of gone full cycle.
Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin was on my radio show, and at the peak of his fame, he was criticized for his marriages, his political leanings, and also because he never found time to become a U.S. citizen. He was a little bit left-wingy, and he didn't want to live where he wasn't wanted. So he went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland until they invited him back for an honorary Academy Award in 1972. There's one scene in a movie called The Gold Rush where he sits starving in his Alaska cabin during a big snowstorm and carves up his shoe-to eat as a delicacy. Remember that scene? That's one of the most charming moments in cinema history. He was the first one to mix comedy with pathos.
He grew up a street urchin, his mother dying in the poor-house. He wound up dancing on the street, passing around a hat for pennies, in an orphanage for destitute children, so I guess his career was kind of an echo of his impoverished childhood. I asked him on the air about people who analyze his movies. There are whole books written by people analyzing Charlie Chaplin movies, frame by frame. They see Freudian significance in every frame. Every time he kicks a fat man from behind, he's supposed to be knocking the Establishment, and there are a hundred more theories. Chaplin swore to me that although people read all these shadings, all these meanings into his movies, all he had in mind was to make people laugh. I never forgot how he told me that people can overanalyze what was never there in the first place.
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong was on my show about four times. I loved him. He always used to give out cards, and on his card was a picture of him sitting on the toilet. He was the only guy I ever knew who gave out cards like that.
Jimmy Durante
Jimmy Durante always loved that lyric by Cole Porter "You're the top, you're the inferno Dante / You're the nose on the great Durante." He came on my show about twenty times. I used to visit him at the hotel. He would lean out the window of the hotel and wave to the people on Forty-fifth and Broadway. He never knew how to say no. If anybody asked him for a favor, he'd say yeah, yeah, yeah, but when the time came to show up, he couldn't do it because he was booked, he was out of town.
I think I was the one who created the phrase "the Wizard of Schnozz." He married a ballet dancer. He used to tell me on his program that he fell in love with her toes, and she fell in love with his nose. I could do hours on Jimmy. When he was in town, he'd sit in my office with me and we'd talk about old times. He had very vivid recall.