Sam Rubin Remembered Fondly by Colleagues, Interview Subjects

Sam Rubin Remembered Fondly by Colleagues, Interview Subjects

Sam Rubin attends the Premiere of Substance Over Hype's "Two Bellmen Two" at the JW Marriott Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2016. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service


Updated: 5/11/2024


LOS ANGELES—Tributes continued to pour in from the entertainment world Saturday for former KTLA5 reporter Sam Rubin, who died unexpectedly May 10 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Brentwood.
“It’s abundantly clear, we all loved Sam Rubin,” actor Michael Chiklis posted Saturday morning on X. “The outpouring of love and support for Sam and his family speaks volumes about who he was and how we all felt about him. I’m very upset to hear of his passing. May he rest in eternal peace and his memory be a blessing for his family.”
“RIP Sam Rubin. I was interviewed by Sam many times,” posted actor Dave Coulier of “Full House” fame. “He was always a gentleman, respectful—and the most important thing—would laugh at the jokes. It always seemed like he was more knowledgeable about my career than I was. In the weird world of Hollywood, he was always a down-to-earth friend.”
“I’m heartbroken. Sam Rubin was not just an Icon in the entertainment news industry but most importantly a kind and wonderful person,” fashion commentator and former “Project Runway” contestant Nick Verreos wrote. “I'll miss helping him with his shoes, ties, and cufflinks every awards season, but I will especially miss his kindness and smile. RIP Sam.”
Mr. Rubin was one of the most recognizable and likable entertainment reporters in the business and a fixture on the KTLA Morning News since 1991. Morning News anchor Frank Buckley confirmed the news of his death on the air early Friday afternoon, his voice trembling and fighting back tears.
“Our hearts, as you can imagine, are broken,” Mr. Buckley said. “Quite simply, Sam was KTLA. From his time on the KTLA5 Morning News to the many awards shows and other shows that he hosted, his laugh, his charm, most caring personality. To all of us he shred his mornings with on television and to those he worked with behind the scenes at KTLA, we will not forget him.”
“This is the moment when Sam would know exactly what to say,” Mr. Buckley added. “These are the kinds of stories that he excelled in, and say the right things about someone and put someone’s life into perspective.
“This station is filled with great sadness. A shock to all of us. He was here yesterday with all of us and then called in sick and then we learned the news this afternoon. So we’re not really sure what the circumstances are. ... That’s what we know at this point, is that Sammy is gone.”
Mr. Rubin is survived by his wife Leslie and four children.
“Sam lived life to the fullest,” Mr. Buckley said. “We don’t know exactly what happened but we know that it was sudden because he was here yesterday.”
KTLA posted on X: “KTLA5 is profoundly saddened to report the death of Sam Rubin. 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.”
On Saturday morning’s newscast, his KTLA colleagues took time to share more memories of Mr. Rubin.
Former co-anchor Carlos Amezcua, who joined the channel’s morning news show in 1991, within two months of Mr. Rubin’s hiring, called it “one of the saddest occasions I’ve ever been a part of.”
“We were really kids when we started in 1991,” Mr. Amezcua said. “It was momentous occasion for all of us because we didn’t know what were about to embark on, and suddenly we were on TV ... and praying that we were going to be something.”
“We were afraid of two things: Failing and Hal Fishman,” Mr. Amezcua added, referring jokingly to the late KTLA anchorman who was a stickler for journalistic standards.
Local landmarks also paid tribute to Mr. Rubin on Friday night. The Santa Monica Pier used the tens of thousands of LED lights on its Ferris wheel to display the message “LA (loves) Sam,” while SoFi Stadium in Inglewood displayed “Rest in Peace, Sam Rubin” on its roof.
During his celebrated career, Mr. Rubin—an Occidental College graduate—collected multiple Emmy Awards and a Golden Mike and Los Angeles Press Club awards for best entertainment reporter, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Southern California Broadcasters Association.
He was also a founding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the organization behind the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, an event Mr. Rubin hosted in 2013.
Mr. Rubin was also the owner of the SRE Inc. television production company, which according to his KTLA biography, has produced more than 200 hours of broadcast and cable programming, including the talk show “Hollywood Uncensored” and the “Live From” red carpet shows.
He was also known for his charitable efforts, annually promoting the Bay to Bay bike ride from Orange County to San Diego to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research.
Mr. Rubin was known for his easy-going interview style, which remained consisted whether talking to Hollywood’s biggest veteran stars or little-known up-and-coming performers.
“He made you feel special every single time, and I am not the only person who felt that warmth every time they sat down at your desk,” actor Henry Winkler told KTLA in a phone call from Pittsburgh on Friday. “... He made every human being feel so special and that got them to open up like a flower. ... He was interested in you as a professional and he was interested in you as a human being.”
Mr. Winkler added, “He will just be so missed. I’m just overwhelmed.”
Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks posted a photo of Mr. Rubin on Instagram, writing simply, “Sam Rubin, you will be missed. A good guy, that Sam.”
Mr. Hanks’ wife, singer and actress Rita Wilson, also paid tribute on Instagram, saying “Sam was the person you ALWAYS wanted to talk to on the red carpet. Sam was authentic, you felt the love he had for his job. He certainly had a great wit, quick on his feet, kind while being funny yet never mean spirited.”
Actor Ryan Reynolds said: “Even if I was on my 85th interview that day, I was always happy to see Sam. Even if HE was on his 85th interview that day, he always brought genuine kindness, curiosity and an outside the box question.”
Director Paul Feig, whose credits include “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” wrote on X that he was “devastated by this news.”
“I truly loved Sam, who was so supportive of me and the industry in general,” Mr. Feig wrote. “He was the best. I can’t quite process him being gone. Sending so much love to his family and friends. So sad. RIP Sam. Love you, pal.”
“I last talked to Sam Rubin at the Critics Choice Awards this year,” actor Kiefer Sutherland posted Friday. “His smile and his genuine excitement for all things Hollywood ever present. In nervous situations he was a buoy of kindness. I will miss him.”
“EVERYONE loved Sam Rubin,” actor Ken Jeong wrote. “He has supported my career and countless others since day one. And he had the best sense of humor about life, and we would make each other laugh all the time. But most of all, he was a loving father and husband and just a good person. Sending all my love to Sam’s family and everyone whose lives have been blessed by him. Love you.”
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer wrote, “So sad to learn what we’ve lost Sam Rubin. It was always a pleasure to see him and to be in his presence. My condolences to his family and fans.”
Comedian and actor Jamie Kennedy called Mr. Rubin “a staple of Los Angeles.”
“He was LA. The heart and soul of the LA news,” Mr. Kennedy wrote. “Everyone knew him, loved him and he was everybody’s friend. A warm comforting face that you were so happy to see at any event.”
Actor Eric Stonestreet from “Modern Family” wrote, “I always enjoyed my time with Sam. Rest in Peace, Sir.”
Actress Joely Fisher added, “This is a shocking loss!!! RIP to my friend of so many years,” to which “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill added, “Gone way too soon.”
Actor Ben Stiller wrote, “So sad and sorry to hear of Sam Rubin’s passing. Consummate pro. I did my first interview with him in something like ‘93, and countless times over the years. He loved actors and movies. He made everyone feel comfortable and it was always fun and easy. He was an institution. We have lost him way too soon. Sending love to his family.”
Actor Greg Grunberg from “Alias” and “Heroes” wrote, “I am numb and shocked at the news of my friend Sam Rubin passing. He cared about everyone that he met and always took the time to smile and ask about family and was the best at what he did. I can’t believe this news. So devastating and sad. Thinking about his beautiful family right now.”
Actor Michael McKean called Mr. Rubin a “genuinely good guy, and really the only game in town.”
Actress Morgan Fairchild wrote, “Sam was the sweetest, nicest guy in town!! Always kind & supportive! My last interview with him was for Matthew Perry’s death. I always went out of my way if he wanted an interview [because] he was just such a great guy! Beloved by all.”
Radio host and media mogul Ryan Seacrest noted, “Early in my career, one of my first live roles on Los Angeles TV was filling in for Sam when he was on vacation. His charm, his fun spirit and his professionalism always impressed me. My condolences to his family and his KTLA family. He'll be missed by us all.”
The Critics Choice Awards issued a statement saying, “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.”
The Los Angeles Press Club said in a statement that the “Los Angeles journalism community has lost one of its shining stars. Entertainment reporting will not be the same without his distinctive voice.”

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