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Lew Klein, NATPE Founder and ‘American Bandstand’ Executive Producer, Dies at 91

Longtime broadcast pioneer is credited for launching the careers of Dick Clark and Bob Saget

Lew Klein, a longtime broadcast TV executive who founded NATPE and was an executive producer for “American Bandstand,” died on Wednesday. He was 91.

Klein died on Wednesday, according to Temple University, where he taught for more than six decades.

Klein began working at Philadelphia’s local TV station WFIL, now WPVI, where he directed “Romper Room” and co-created “Captain Noah and His Magical Ark,” two children’s programs in the 1960s. He was an executive producer on “American Bandstand,” the popular music performance and dance show that was hosted by Dick Clark.

Klein is credited for helping to launch the career of Dick Clark as well as Bob Saget.

Klein founded the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) in 1963 and was its former president; he also founded the NATPE Educational Foundation and served as its president. The Educational Foundation was founded in 1978 to promote educational activities on behalf of NATPE. In 2017, NATPE honored Klein with its Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented during its annual NATPE Miami Conference and Marketplace.

Current NAPTE chairman Andy Kaplan expressed his condolences via this statement:

“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. 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.”

Klein produced local Philadelphia Phillies telecasts for 15 years. In 2017, Temple renamed the College of Media and Communications in his honor.

Klein is survived by his wife, Janet, his children, Ellen and Stephen, granddaughter Anna and her husband John, and great-grandchildren Oscar and Miriam.

ESPN sportscaster and Temple alum Kevin Negandi offered his condolences on Twitter Thursday.

“What a loss for all of us . Lew Klein was a great role model for Owls everywhere. My mom and I spent time w him and his wife Janet in December graduation. He was sharp. He was kind. He was Lew. His impact will be felt for generations. RIP Lew.”