MARCH 25, 1970 – Joe Pyne, the aggressive television and radio talk show host whose reputation rested on his ability to anger his guests, died of cancer at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. His age was 44. At the peak of his career, In 1966, Mr. Pyne had a syndicated television talk show on Metromedia stations and a syndicated radio show on 254 stations, including WNBC in New York. He earned about $200,000 a year.
MARCH 12, 2001 – Once the biggest mouth on television, Morton Downey Jr. died of lung cancer. Downey, whose controversial late 1980s TV show paved the way for the Jerry Springers of the world, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 67. Downey, who was often seen with a cigarette dangling from his mouth on his show — and would sometimes blow smoke in the faces of his ideological foes — had been suffering from numerous respiratory and lung illnesses. The Morton Downey Jr. Show, which debuted in 1987 and lasted just two years, was groundbreaking for its time — and, for a moment, wildly popular. On his show, Downey — whose symbol was a huge, open mouth — would taunt his guests, shout at them and subject them to his often hostile audience of extremely loyal fans. Downey justified all the yelling on his show, saying many Americans grew up in households were yelling and confrontation were common.
His show paved the way for many of today’s circus-atmosphere talk shows, such as Jerry Springer — but Downey kept his distance from today’s shows, saying he didn’t do “sleaze.” Downey also hosted a talk show on CNBC for one season.
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