PHILADELPHIA (CelebrityAccess) — Lew Klein, the Philadelphia broadcasting legend who helped to develop the show American Bandstand, died on Wednesday, June 12th. He was 91.
Klein’s death was confirmed on Thursday by a statement from Temple University, where he taught for more than six decades.
“Lew Klein has left an indelible imprint on the lives of countless Temple students who have gone on to build successful careers in media, communication and related fields. Those graduates are Lew’s true gift to journalism. His influence will be felt for generations to come,” said Temple President Richard M. Englert.
“Through the decades of his remarkable career as a pioneer of television, Lew Klein taught part-time at Temple University, starting in 1952,” added Klein College Dean David Boardman. “He did that not for money, but as a way to serve his community and his profession by helping shape the journalists and broadcasters of the future.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Klein was recovering from heart surgery, and fell over the weekend and injured his head, leading to his passing.
Kal Rudman, fellow Philadelphia broadcast pioneer, philanthropy partner, and publisher of the influential music industry trade Friday Morning Quarterback, issued the following statement on the passing of his lifelong friend and mentor, Lew Klein.
“Lew Klein was beyond the word ‘Legend,’” said Rudman. “We’ve shared so many things and commonalities over our 75-year friendship, including our philanthropic vision as broadcasters, and to see it culminate in our joint philanthropy effort with the students at our beloved Temple University, and its TV station, TUTV, is a beautiful, and fitting end to our incredible journey together over these many decades.”
Rudman credits Klein with launching his career when they were both still teenagers in the 1940s.
“I met Lew Klein when I was 15 years old and he was 17,” Rudman recalled. “My dream in 1947 was to be a radio announcer. Lew, with help from his father, had his own radio sports show on the powerful WPEN Philadelphia. I would go there and hang around in what was Heaven for me. One day Lew came out of the studio, saw me, and asked ‘What are you doing right now?’ I replied, ‘Nuttin’.’ He responded, ‘You’ll follow me.’ And he walked me to Broad Street, and we took an elevator, and we were at the powerhouse radio station, WFIL, the ABC Network. My jaw dropped. And we walked into the studio and the radio show on live was the incredibly infamous Eddie Fisher. I saw Lew walk over to the director and speak into his ear. The next thing I knew, Lew came back to me and said, ‘It’s all set, Solomon. You’re going on this radio show. In the quiz portion. I was ready to faint.’ I won the quiz show, and my prize was 6 pairs of beautiful socks.”
A graduate of Pennsylvania University, Klein took his first steps into the world of television by producing commercials for Dutch Boy Paints and landed a job as a producer at WFIL-TV, home of “Bandstand”, which debuted in 1950. Klein was named the executive producer of the show and helped to develop the program it from a local television hit to being picked up for national broadcast by ABC in 1956, becoming “American Bandstand.”
Klein also served as an educator, teaching broadcasting at Temple University for more than six decades. In 2000, the school launched the Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Award, which has since been presented to Klein, as well as Tina Fey, Charles Barkley, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dick Vermeil.
Klein is survived by his wife, Janet, his children, Ellen and Stephen, granddaughter Anna and her husband John, and great-grandchildren Oscar and Miriam.