HELLO AMERICA!—When I was editor in chief of three major national entertainment publications: Players, Now and Michael St. John’s Night Beat, it was Joe Franklin, host of his own television and radio interview show out of New York who called and asked if I would be interested in co-hosting his show with him for one week. His death reminded me of his kindness and respect for what I was accomplishing as a writer, reporter and editor.
The show in New York was at the top of the scheduled tour stops which included San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston and Baltimore where I appeared on a show hosted by none other than Oprah Winfrey who even then had a reputation as a hard hitter and I should be prepared.
My week’s turn on the Joe Franklin show began with a kind of an “emotional rumble” when I learned that the first guest was none other than Eartha Kitt with whom I had had a confrontation at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles two years before. I gulped a few times and immediately informed Joe about the incident and he couldn’t stop laughing. “Fantastic!” he shouted. “This is going to be a helluva show, that’s for damn sure!”
When Batman’s “Catwoman” arrived, she had with her one of the main dancers in their show “Timbuktu” and he was completely full of himself. Evidently, Eartha had heard that I was co-hosting the show and when the dancer was introduced to me he demonstrated a rather pompous, condescending attitude making it obvious that Eartha had informed him of what occurred between us.
When Joe introduced Eartha and her dancer, she made an amazing “Hollywood” entrance! That woman kissed me on the cheek and sat down as if we had been long-time friends. Joe with a teasing smile said, “Eartha, of course you known Michael St. John since you both live in Hollywood.” She smiled, took my hand said purred in her trademark way and said, “Oh Joe, Michael and I have known each other for years!” During the introduction banter, the dancer sat looking straight ahead displaying his would-be star attitude.
The interview with Eartha went fine. She knew how to play the game, after all she was a professional and I couldn’t help but respect her because Eartha was, no matter what the problem was between us, she was electrifying on the stage or in front of a camera. However, being who I was I didn’t miss the opportunity of giving her dancer friend a rough time, especially when I asked if he was in “Timbuktu” the musical
Eartha was starring with singer-actress Melba Moore. The boy looked at me as if he had been shot, after all he was “the” lead dancer in the Broadway show. He was so taken aback, he could barely respond to my question. Joe sat looking as if he was enjoying a scene in a Hollywood comedy.
After appearing on the Joe Franklin Show, I was easily booked on many other shows both radio and television throughout the country. It was this very kind man who believed in me and wanted to give me a boost and it worked. I will always remember Joe for opening the door so that so many other people were able to see who I was and am. Rest in peace my friend.