national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, November 21, 2010


TV presenter and former South African news reader Les Franken (64) - once a fixture on South African television as the host of several game shows before a TV resurgence as mid-morning infomercials presenter - has died.

Les Franken passed away on November 15 in the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg after he broke a leg two months ago, was operated on and developed a lung embolism.

During the late 80’s, Les Franken was the presenter of the blind date game show Cupid on TV4, at that time the show with the second highest viewership in South Africa only trumped by the primetime soap Dynasty. He was also the host of the immensely popular game show Pryswys on TV1 and later also presented the Afrikaans game show Legkaart Bonanza (also on TV1) where he coined a new phrase ''Rol daai wiel!'' [''Spin that wheel!''].

With South Africa's first foray into breakfast TV in October 1986 with Goeiemore Suid-Afrika / Good Morning South Africa [later GMSA] on TV1, Les Franken was one of the original three anchor presenters and read the morning news for two years before he left the show. During this time he got divorced in 1987 from his first wife and later married his second wife Amanda. Les Franken was seen before that as TV reporter, primetime newsreader on TV1, and also hosted special programming like TV1's Artes awards.

After a long absence from South African television following the reorganization of the SABC's 3 TV channels in 1994 (and a self-entitled music album in 1986) Les Franken made a surprising TV comeback as the mid-morning face of infomercials where he became synonymous with Clientele's ''Lasting Dignity Plan'' life insurance and funeral policy over many years. Les Franken's funeral will take place on Monday (November 22) at 10h00 at the Dutch Reformed church Johannesburg South.