Malcolm Klein, 76; TV Executive Was Program Innovator

From a Times Staff Writer

Malcolm Klein, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast executive who pioneered televising of such cultural events as Hollywood Bowl concerts and art exhibits, has died. He was 76.

Klein died Nov. 1 in the Bay Area city of Los Altos of complications from prostate cancer.

As general manager of RKO’s KHJ-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles from 1960 to 1968, Klein in 1962 became the first to telecast a Hollywood Bowl performance. Encouraged by enthusiastic viewer reception, he followed that with live coverage of art exhibits and openings of such institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

He said he was prompted to add such programming to the station’s customary movie fare when New York colleagues razzed him, claiming that L.A. had no culture.


“Los Angeles has just as much culture as any other place. Our problem is that geography has prevented the fullest awareness and exploration of the arts,” he told The Times in 1965. “TV’s job is to get culture ... out of the sacred halls and bring it down to the people where it belongs.”

Throughout his career, Klein was known for innovation in programming. As station manager of New York’s Channel 13 in 1959, he created “Play of the Week” and David Susskind’s “Open End.” In Los Angeles, he introduced such youth-oriented programs as “Surf’s Up With DJs” and earned an Emmy for creating the prototype talk show “Tempo.”

Born in Los Angeles, Klein served in the Navy at the end of World War II and graduated from UCLA before becoming the first KLAC-TV (now KCOP-TV Channel 13) operations manager when the station went on the air in 1948. He also worked for KABC-TV Channel 7 and National General Television Productions, among others, before starting his own marketing company in 1972.

Klein is survived by his wife, Barbara; son, Daniel; daughters, Amy Klein, Crista Badham and Laura M’Guiness; and six grandchildren.

The family asks that any memorial donations go to Pathways Hospice Foundation, 201 San Antonio Circle, Suite 135, Mountain View, CA 94040.