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Ask anyone who remembers Joe Pyne and they will tell you that he was the father of in-your-face talk television. He was insulting people on TV long before it became hip. As a matter of fact, his program was truly “shocking.” It was verbally aggressive and at times even physically violent. Pyne was a strange character, unlike anything anyone had ever seen on national television. There were all kinds of urban legends circulating about him. People wondered if he was just performing an “act.” Even the fact that he had a wooden leg added to his mystique. When it first became known, not everyone believed it.

Pyne worked in radio on a number of small East Coast stations before he got his first television show in Wilmington, Delaware. He left for California in the late 1950s and, after a stint on Los Angeles-area radio, got a late night talk show on KTLA-TV.

Pyne was perhaps the first angry conservative to let it all out on TV. He made no bones about insulting or verbally assaulting his liberal guests or any public figure with whom he disagreed. He often would begin the interview with an insult just to put his guest off. His trademark phrase became, “I could make a monkey out of you but why should I take the credit?”

Pyne’s show became so popular it was eventually syndicated to over 200 markets by the late 1960s. But most of today’s younger talk fans never got to know Joe Pyne because, a heavy smoker, he died of lung cancer at age 44 in 1970.

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