KTLA reporter Sam Rubin died from heart disease, medical examiner says

KTLA's Sam Rubin
KTLA’s Sam Rubin died on May 10 at age 64.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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The heart attack that killed longtime KTLA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin was due to coronary artery disease, the Los Angeles County medical examiner said this week.

The 64-year-old newsman was hospitalized on May 10 with stomach pain, his former station reported. He was pronounced dead in the emergency room later that morning. At the time, a source familiar with the situation told The Times that he had cardiac arrest at his West Valley home and was taken to the hospital.

The medical examiner’s report this week confirms his manner of death was natural, and lists the cause as ischemic heart disease — narrowed arteries — and coronary artery disease.


“Quite simply, Sam was KTLA,” anchor Frank Buckley said when announcing Rubin’s death on the air a few hours later. “The newsroom is in tears right now.”

Carlos Amezcua, former co-anchor at ‘KTLA Morning News,’ recalls his colleague and friend Sam Rubin as someone who was ‘equal parts mischievous and solid journalist.’

May 11, 2024

Rubin was born Feb. 16, 1960, in San Diego, went to high school in L.A. and attended Occidental College. He was a central member of “KTLA 5 Morning News,” a pioneering experiment in early-morning broadcasting. Before the show launched in 1991, local news stations usually focused on evening newscasts, believing that morning viewers were more likely to watch national shows such as NBC’s “The Today Show” or ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Once Rubin joined the then-new program three months in, he soon earned a reputation for his disarming interviews and warm personality. According to co-anchor Carlos Amezcua, Rubin was the show’s “connective tissue” and helped give it the sense of L.A. authenticity it needed.

“What can always be said about Sam is that he helped the ‘KTLA Morning News’ connect to Los Angeles as a native Angeleno who loved L.A. and knew the city better than anyone else on set,” Amezcua said. “We had L.A. in our call letters, and Sam always said that we knew L.A. and L.A. knew us.”

Soon, the morning news program became such a success that KTTV Channel 11 started one as well, kicking off a morning-show ratings battle.

Outside of camera range, Rubin’s life revolved around his family, Amezcua said.

“I have five children and they all knew Sam and his family, and Sam was just so generous with his time,” Amezcua said. “He was a good family man and they loved him. We all loved him.”


Over the course of his career, Rubin won multiple local Emmy Awards and a Golden Mike Award. He also received honors from the Southern California Broadcasters Assn., the Los Angeles Press Club and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and he penned biographies on former First Lady Jacqueline Onassis and actor Mia Farrow.

He was still on the air the day before his death, when he interviewed actor Jane Seymour. The following day, he called in sick.