Longtime KTLA Entertainment Reporter Was 64

Longtime KTLA Entertainment Reporter Was 64

UPDATED with family confirming cause of death: Sam Rubin, who was a Los Angeles TV news mainstay as the longtime entertainment reporter for KTLA and regular interviewer on red carpets, died today, the station announced. He was 64.

Rubin’s family confirmed he died of a heart attack, KTLA reported. He was last on the air Thursday morning and showed no outward signs of illness, according to his co-workers. He had called in sick on Friday.

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Rubin’s KTLA colleagues were remembering him with tears and anecdotes on the air this afternoon. “We don’t know what happened, but it was sudden,” longtime morning anchor Frank Buckley said. Another longtime colleague, Eric Spillman, called in to say, “I can’t believe we are reporting this — it is such a shock.”

“KTLA 5 is profoundly saddened to report the death of Sam Rubin,” the station posted on social media. “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.”

Among those calling in was Henry Winkler, who was one of Rubin’s favorite guests.

“It’s the most horrible thing,” Winkler said via phone from an airport. “Two things I know: He made you feel special every single time [he interviewed you], and I am not the only person who felt that special warmth.”

The station also today played a minutes-long segment from the 2020 SAG Awards red carpet in which none other than Tom Hanks stopped to speak with Rubin, turning the tables on the interviewer and extolling the virtues of KTLA, Rubin and “Sky Chopper 5.”

Rubin joined KTLA Morning News in 1991, about six months after the program debuted. He won multiple News Emmys and Golden Mike Awards and received a lifetime achievement award from the Southern California Broadcasters Association. He also was named Best Entertainment Reporter by the Los Angeles Press Club.

Rubin also was a longtime regular on KNX-AM in Los Angeles, provided brief showbiz-news reports, and regularly appeared on BBC TV and radio in the UK and also did radio and TV reports in Australia.

Rubin is one of the founding members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the largest organization of film and television critics in the United States with more than 200 members. In 1996, the BFCA began the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and he hosted the 2013 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.

In 2021, Rubin ran to represent broadcasters on SAG-AFTRA’s L.A. board of directors as part of the MembershipFirst party alongside Matthew Modine and Joely Fisher. Among his chief concerns was changes in eligibility requirements at the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.

After hearing the news, Fisher wrote on Twitter today, “This is a shocking loss!!! #RIP to my friend of so many years.”

He also was the owner of SRE, Inc., a TV production company that has produced more than 200 hours of broadcast and cable programming, including several Live From red carpet shows and 120 episodes of the talk show Hollywood Uncensored with Sam Rubin which ran on Reelz.

Rubin authored two books and has seen his work published in both print and online around the world. Sam regularly appears on BBC television and radio in the United Kingdom, and is a regular contributor to Triple M radio and Channel 9 television network in Australia.

His charitable efforts included annually promoting the Bay to Bay bike ride from Orange County to San Diego to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research.

Survivors include his wife, Leslie, and their four children.

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