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.