July 15, 2008

RIP: Les Crane

Norman Davis has sent along word that Les Crane (born Leslie G. Stein) passed away on Sunday (July 13) from pneumonia. Crane was 74 years old and had resided in Belvedere (Marin County).

Crane was PD at 1260/KYA in the early 1960s, where he worked as "Johnny Raven" and built one of the most talented radio teams in local history.

He then moved to KGO/81 (as Les Crane), where he became very successful as the host of a nightly talk show from the hungry i night club. ABC later moved him to KGO-TV, then the entire ABC television network, with a short-lived late-night program called "Night Line ... With Les Crane." The program was later renamed "The Les Crane Show." It became another in the long list of challengers to Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" that fell by the wayside.

Among the more interesting accomplishments in his life: his fourth wife (out of five) was Tina Louise, who played "Ginger" on "Gilligan's Island"; he started Software Toolworks, whose most notable release was "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing"; and in 1971 he won a Grammy for "Desiderata," the year's best spoken-word recording.

You can hear Les Crane (as Leslie G. Stein) on the "Sounds of San Francisco from the KGO Music Tower" recording on the radio museum website by clicking here.

The New York Times included a detailed obituary of Les Crane in today's online edition. (Registration required.)

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