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Remembering beloved entertainment broadcaster Sam Rubin, dead at 64

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Drive around LA right now, and you'll probably catch a theater marquee, a billboard or sports stadium that bears the name or face of Sam Rubin. He's one of the most beloved entertainment broadcasters here in Los Angeles, and he died on Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANK BUCKLEY: This is the moment when Sam would know exactly what to say.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Rubin's KTLA 5 colleague and friend, Frank Buckley, had the difficult job of breaking the news to Los Angeles on Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BUCKLEY: But he was such an energetic, genuine, authentic human being and was so meaningful.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

ERIC SPILLMAN: He was born to be a broadcaster.

SUMMERS: That's Eric Spillman, another longtime friend and colleague.

CHANG: In fact, there's evidence that Sam Rubin aspired to get on air even as a teenager.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHERYL: Sammy (ph)?

SAM RUBIN: Well, you know, Cheryl (ph), this summer finds theaters around the Southland bursting with motion picture entertainment.

CHANG: That's Rubin broadcasting in high school for the LA Unified School District student news channel in 1977.

SUMMERS: Over a decades-long career as an entertainment reporter, Rubin came to be on a first-name basis with some of Hollywood's biggest names, from George Clooney...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE CLOONEY: How many years have we known each other now? Thirty, probably.

CHANG: ...To Denzel Washington...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DENZEL WASHINGTON: I don't watch you - the show every day. I watch you every day.

SUMMERS: ...And Tom Hanks...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TOM HANKS: Let's spell it out. S-A-M R...

CHANG: Rubin joined KTLA 5's Morning News team in 1991, interviewing actors and musicians, both on the red carpet and as a newsroom anchor.

SUMMERS: He was known for his charm, joy and sense of humor. Here he is teasing the long-haired actor Jared Leto.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

S RUBIN: Is it shampoo and conditioner or just shampoo? What is the hair regimen, Jared? Good morning to you.

JARED LETO: Well, you know, my friend. It's a toupee.

SUMMERS: This morning, Rubin's 16-year-old son, Colby Rubin, appeared on KTLA 5 alongside his father's former colleagues.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLBY RUBIN: Hi, Dad. I wrote this under the desk in your cubicle, where you used to catch me sleeping.

SUMMERS: He read a tribute to his father.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

C RUBIN: You were an incredible father and friend. On our car rides, you taught me so much about life, about how you got to wake up every day and do what you loved.

CHANG: Losing legendary entertainment broadcaster Sam Rubin reminds Angelinos that living in a big city like LA that's dominated by a single industry can often make this place feel like a small town as it embraces a lost friend.

SUMMERS: Sam Rubin died suddenly Friday at age 64. He's survived by his wife and four children. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jonaki Mehta is a producer for All Things Considered. Before ATC, she worked at Neon Hum Media where she produced a documentary series and talk show. Prior to that, Mehta was a producer at Member station KPCC and director/associate producer at Marketplace Morning Report, where she helped shape the morning's business news.
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.