The obituaries of Marin County resident Les Crane that have appeared in the last couple of days correctly point out that he was the first late-night host to vie for ratings against Johnny Carson. ABC would cancel his show after a few months. But as this LA Times obit point out, there was much more to Crane’s life than trying to defeat Carson.

    • In 1984 he founded a software company that made him a multimillionaire, largely from the sales of the computer game “Chessmaster” and a widely used typing tutorial called “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.” Crane helped develop both programs.

    • He also won a Grammy for his 1971 spoken-word recording of the poem “Desiderata.” With its New Age-y sentiments (“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. . . .”), it became a counterculture hit and a popular target for parody. The irreverent Crane later professed to prefer the parody.

    • In 1966, Crane married actress Tina Louise, best known as Ginger on the sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.” They were divorced after five years.

    • Crane then married a woman whose first name was Ginger.

    • Crane was a host on KGO 810 in the early 1980s. His show caught the attention of ABC television executives who offered him the late night program opposite Carson.

SF Press Club News

One Comment

  1. Crane did a late-night show on KGO from approximately 1962 to 1964 called Crane at the hungry i. He would interact with owner and impressario Enrico Banducci and interviewing aspiring newcomers like Barbra Streisand and Professor Irwin Corey. Crane’s style was rapid-fire and contentious, arguing with Banducci or Corey about politics or how the club was run. The call-in number, EXbrook 7-2860, was frequently repeated on air along with the fact that Crane was only 27 years old.

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