Sam Rubin, Longtime KTLA Entertainment Reporter and Anchor, Dies at 64

Sam Rubin, the popular entertainment anchor on KTLA-TV’s morning show since 1991, has died, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. He was 64.

According to TMZ, Rubin died of a heart attack on Friday. He was on the air Thursday morning.

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“KTLA 5 is profoundly saddened to report the death of Sam Rubin,” the channel wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Sam was a giant in the local news industry and the entertainment world and a fixture of Los Angeles morning television for decades. His laugh, charm and caring personality touched all who knew him. Sam was a loving husband and father: the roles he cherished the most. Our thoughts are with Sam’s family during this difficult time.”

Perry Sook — founder, chairman and CEO of Nexstar, the majority owner of the local station — also issued a statement. “Sam was an icon in Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, and he was a beloved member of our Nexstar Nation,” he wrote.

Rubin’s manager, Jamie Gruttemeyer, shared her own note with THR: “Morning news will never be the same. I think we all feel that losing Sam is like losing a close family friend. Someone who could always lift your spirits, someone who was welcome in your home and always showed up with a smile on his face. Sam will be forever missed.”

During a segment in which KTLA anchors shared the news and memories, weatherman Mark Kriski called in to talk about his colleague. “Everyone in Hollywood knows Sam Rubin … He was my friend. The wonderful thing about Sam is he always thought big and dreamt bigger.

“He was just so genuine, and the Sam you saw on TV was the Sam in our hearts and our lives. Goddamn it, no. It’s too early for him to go. The sun didn’t shine as bright this morning, and the stars won’t twinkle as bright tonight.”

Multiple celebrities called the station to pay tribute to him.

“I just read the news, and it’s the most horrible thing,” Henry Winkler said from an airport. “Two things I know: He made you feel special every single time, and I’m not the only person who felt that warmth every time they sat down at your desk.”

The Barry star continued: “Respectful was the very core of him. His warmth, it was like you were the only person he knew in the industry. When you were being interviewed by him, there was nobody after you, there was nobody before you in that desk. It was you in that seat, and that’s all that mattered. He made every human being feel so special and got them to open up like a flower. He was interested in you as a professional. He was interested in you as a human being, and my heart goes out to his family, to you and all his colleagues and his friends. He will be so missed. I’m overwhelmed that he’s no longer here. It’s still unthinkable.”

Former Dancing With the Stars pro and podcast host Cheryl Burke also called in. “I’m literally going through pictures in tears at the moment,” she said. “He was my podcast dad whether he liked it or not.” She described chatting with him as “being in my living room talking with a friend,” adding, “He was very present when I was being interviewed by him.”

Jerry O’Connell, who had just appeared on KTLA on Friday morning, rejoined the station to honor the late anchor. “There is an outpouring of emotion in this town right now. This is devastating news … It is a very emotional, sad day not only for the KTLA family but for the entertainment industry as a whole,” the actor said. “The man was a legend.

“The entertainment industry is a scary place. It’s an unfriendly place. It’s a competitive place. I’m going to say Sam was the kindest, warmest soul in this insane town. He greeted everyone with open arms and warmth. My first live interview was with Sam Rubin at KTLA in your old studio … He treated everyone with the same amount of love, respect, warmth … he was inspiring.”

For L.A. entertainment diehards, the San Diego native was a staple of the industry, one who reported from many a red carpet in addition to his role as the face of showbiz on Channel 5. He often hosted the station’s Live From the Academy Awards and had his own celebrity talk show, Hollywood Uncensored, for a spell. Rubin was beloved for his friendly demeanor and was not afraid to ask difficult questions on a beat that many network newscasts often treat as fluff.

In addition to multiple Emmys, Rubin received a Golden Mike Award for best entertainment reporter, a lifetime achievement honor from the Southern California Broadcasters Association and another best entertainment reporter prize from the Los Angeles Press Club. In 2013, he was honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition with its Impact Award for integrity in broadcast journalism.

His work has been published around the world. He often appeared on BBC television and radio and was a regular contributor to Australia’s Triple M radio and Channel 9.

Not only was Rubin a long-standing anchor/reporter with KTLA, he also owned a television production company called SRE Inc. It produced more than 200 hours of broadcast and cable programs, including several of his Live From red carpet shows and Hollywood Uncensored.

Rubin was one of the founding members of what was then called the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which has since merged with the Broadcast Television Association to form the Critics Choice Association, which is the largest critics organization in the U.S. and Canada, with more than 600 members.

The Critics Choice Association said it was “devastated by the sudden loss of our dear friend Sam Rubin, a longtime member of our board of directors and a guiding force throughout our 30-year history. Sam’s generous spirit, unfailing good humor and deep knowledge of Hollywood made him a legend in the entertainment business and a trusted friend to millions of viewers — and to hundreds of stars who relaxed in easy conversation with him on his set at KTLA and on countless red carpets.”

A 1982 graduate of Occidental College, Rubin co-wrote biographies about Jacqueline Onassis and Mia Farrow.

Survivors include his wife, Leslie, and his four children: daughters Perry, Rory and Darcy and son Colby.

Lesley Goldberg and Lexy Perez contributed to this report.

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