The late Ted Knight said his “Ted Baxter” character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was modeled after George Putnam, who anchored top-rated newscasts on four different Los Angeles TV stations. More recently, that is for over 20 years, Putnam had returned to the medium where his career began, radio, hosting “Talk Back,” a talk show carried on several radio stations and nationally by CRN Digital Talk Radio. He was 94 when he died on Friday.
“George was an icon and true legend in the television and radio business. George was truly the last of an era. He was a character whose story telling abilities could not be beat, a patriot whose love for America influenced everything he did and a friend who brought insight and laughter to everyone,” said Mike Horn, President and CEO of CRN Digital Talk Radio.
Putnam’s radio career began in 1934 at WDGY in Minneapolis. Putnam’s greatest work was achieved in Los Angeles, where he had been working since 1951. In the 1950s, Putnam left radio for television and hosted some of the highest rated newscasts in Los Angeles. He anchored at various times at KTTV 11, KTLA 5, KCOP 13 and KHJ 9 (currently KCAL 9). For his contribution to the television industry, Putnam received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Since retiring from the KTLA anchor chair in 1975, Putnam hosted the daily “Talk Back” radio show, based at KCCA-AM San Bernardino. He also wrote a weekly column, “One Reporter’s Opinion,” on NewsMax.com. Despite espousing several conservative causes, Putnam always maintained that he was a “lifelong Democrat.”
Putnam was also noted for riding horseback in The Rose Parade every year from 1951 until 2000. According to a Wikipedia biography, that was when his horse died and Putnam said he was too old to train another parade horse. Putnam raised many racing horses on his California ranch.