My Philadelphia Story: Larry Kane

Broadcaster, author, Beatlemaniac; Jenkintown; 62

I am eligible for Social Security now, which is a weird feeling.

There was a time when I regretted not going to the network level, but the truth is, we really liked it here. I mean, if you look at the life of a Dan Rather, a Tom Brokaw, there is not much of a life there.

I have had a 48-year career in broadcasting, I have interviewed every president since LBJ, governors, mayors, kings and queens and stars, and the first question people ask me is, “What are the Beatles really like?”

I remember a party in Hollywood when I was covering the Beatles. Here I am, 21 years old, and all these starlets are walking around Burt Lancaster’s mansion. A pretty young woman comes up to me, and you know, I am pretty naive. I said, “What kind of acting can you do?” At that moment, she let out a scream. I want you to picture the room —
McCartney was on the piano. Lennon is in the corner smoking something, George is playing the guitar, and Ringo is reading the Green Hornet comic book. All these women and executives, everybody stopped. McCartney looked over at me and said, “Bad boy, Larry. Bad boy.”

Turns out she was an actress in horror movies. She was a screamer. I never quite lived that one down.  

No, I never got as wild as they did.

In the early days in my career, this town was really run by the white Protestant establishment. There was a lot of doubt about whether someone with my faith and nose could make it on television. I know that sounds silly, but it was a different time.

I may not go to synagogue every week, but I feel very much a Jew. And very Jewish. I love Judaism.

In 1970, we launched Action News. I said one headline, two headlines, and I turned to the camera and I said, “The big story on Action News is … ” That is how it all started.  Management thought it was too racy, too hot.

The toughest interview I ever had was in 1967, when the Sixers won the world championship. I went to the party for the Sixers at Pagano’s restaurant, and the first person I met was Wilt Chamberlain. He said, “What the f— are you doing here? Get the f— out.” [Sixers player] Billy Cunningham and the coach persuaded him otherwise.

In my early days, I was like an idol. I couldn’t go anywhere because Action News was hot, it was very hot.  

I hate to talk in the past, but when you get awards like the lifetime achievement Emmy I’m getting, you know the reason they’re giving it to you. The bulk of your career is done.

I am not the kind of guy who could get up every morning and play golf, come home, and play golf again.

Walt Hunter is the best reporter that ever lived in the city. The guy in the morning on Channel 6, Matt O’Donnell — he will be the new great thing that happens to Philadelphia TV.

Jim Gardner is the best anchorman in Philadelphia.

If local news doesn’t center on what people really want to see, it will be irrelevant. What local stations are missing are what I call “people want to know news” — news that affects their health, schools, pocketbook. Less so stories about the newest breast implant.

John Street feels that he is invincible to the media.

My all-time favorite athlete, my hero, is Bob Clark. Here is a guy who through sheer energy made his presence felt.  

Fatherhood has taught me to appreciate a great wife, for all those years I wasn’t there at night.

I remember there was a column written about me that said I had something in my contract that I had to sit higher than anybody else, which wasn’t true. Those things used to hurt me, but I am pretty thick-skinned now.
If people wanted to view me as egotistical, they didn’t know who I was.

There is one thing about this town — if they like you, they like you for a long time. If they hate you, you’re dead on arrival.