What to Know
- Gene Crane, a legendary Philadelphia broadcaster with a career spanning half a century, has passed away.
- Crane died peacefully on Monday at the age of 99, according to his stepdaughter.
- Crane worked at WCAU-TV from 1948 through 1994, serving as an anchor, reporter, weatherman, sportscaster and talk show host.
Gene Crane, a legendary Philadelphia broadcaster with a career spanning half a century, has passed away. Crane died peacefully on Monday at the age of 99, according to his stepdaughter.
Crane’s career in broadcasting began in 1941 when he worked as an announcer at WJTN Radio while attending Syracuse University in Jamestown, New York. He then served four years in the United States Army in World War II before moving to Philadelphia in 1946, where he worked as a radio announcer for WCAU.
After being let go and working briefly at WIP, Crane returned to WCAU-TV in 1948 when it first went on the air as Philly’s third television station.
From the late 1940s through the 1950s, Crane conducted “Man on the Street” interviews and hosted three children shows as well as a daily talk show.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch his show on Channel 10,” NBC10 First Alert Weather meteorologist Glenn Schwartz said. “He was here at Channel 10 decade after decade after decade.”
Crane was also known for his extraordinary versatility.
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“He could do anything,” Glenn said. “He could do the news. He could do the weather. He could do sports. He could do entertainment news. He could actually host a complete program for years which is what he did.”
He could even act. During the 1960s and 70s, Crane appeared in several television commercials. His big break in Hollywood came in 1982 when he played the Mayor of Philadelphia in the film, “Rocky III.”
Crane finally retired from WCAU-TV in 1994, the same year the station switched from CBS to NBC.
“I overlapped with him for just a brief period of time,” Glenn said. “Really just a matter of weeks when I was trying to train him on a new computer system. He was such a joyful, wonderful man. He always had a smile on his face. He always seemed to be nice to everybody. Everybody liked him.”
During his storied career, Crane won the Governor’s Award at the Mid-Atlantic Emmys and was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers’ Hall of Fame in 1995.
Crane’s passion for television passed down to his son David Crane, one of the creators of the hit NBC show “Friends.”
“He took great pride in that,” Glenn said. “He would go out to Hollywood and visit the set.”
After his retirement, Crane did volunteer work while living in Mexico with his wife.
“He was so down to earth,” Glenn said. “He was just like your neighbor. I would think of him as the ‘Mr. Rogers’ of Philadelphia. Just think of that kind of personality.”
Crane’s family has not yet revealed funeral information.