People/Biz

Lew Klein, NATPE founder and “American Bandstand” exec producer, passes away

Lew Klein, long-time broadcast executive and NATPE founder, passed away on Wednesday, June 12. He was 91. Klein entered the world of broadcast television in the 1950′s in the programming department ...
June 14, 2019

Lew Klein, long-time broadcast executive and NATPE founder, passed away on Wednesday, June 12. He was 91.

Klein entered the world of broadcast television in the 1950′s in the programming department of Philadelphia’s WFIL (now WPVI) where he helped create popular 1960′s children’s programs Romper Room and Captain Noah and His Magical Ark. Over the course of his career, Klein would go on to launch the careers of hundreds of industry professionals, including comedian Bob Saget and legendary host and producer Dick Clark.

Notably, Klein served as an executive producer on the popular music performance and dance program American Bandstand, hosted by Clark.

Klein founded the non-profit content association National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) in 1963 and was its former president. In 1978, he launched the event’s NATPE Educational Foundation and served as its president, remaining as head of the division until his death.

The Philadelphia native also held the position of adjunct professor at Temple University over a 65-year period. In 2017, the university renamed its school of media and communication as the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication.

From 1984 to 1993, Klein was president of Gateway Communications, which owned four CBS affiliate stations in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Klein was honored with NATPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, and was also the recipient of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Gold Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Janet; his children Ellen and Stephen; granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.

“It is with the deepest regret that we inform you that Lew Klein (91), NATPE’s founder and guiding light, has passed away. Lew was the soul and inspiration for NATPE and was tireless in his work and support of both NATPE and the NATPE Foundation, which he founded and served as president until his passing,” said NATPE chairman Andy Kaplan in a statement.

“Our condolences go out to Janet, Lew’s wife, who was by his side for a lifetime and always present at NATPE events, and to Lew’s entire family.  We will dearly miss his wise counsel, smiling face and his class. He was one of a kind,” Kaplan added.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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