Benny Carle-Classic Alabama TV

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TV Icon Benny Carle dies at 89

Benny Carle, broadcasting pioneer and popular TV entertainer, passed away on October 2nd at his home in Florence, Alabama after a brief illness. He was 89.

During a career that spanned eight decades, Carle helped shape the radio and television industry during its “Golden Era”, then remained active in ownership until his retirement a few years ago.

Starting in the late 40s, Carle began on radio, then moved to TV, hosting many shows including Western Theater, Circle Six Ranch, and The Benny Carle Show, which ran uninterrupted for 30 years. He hosted a live children’s TV show each afternoon from 1948 -65 on Birmingham Channels 13 and 6 and from 1965 -75 on Channels 23, 31 and 48 in Decatur and Huntsville.

In the early days when TV was all live, Carle gained notoriety as the first to perform on live camera, and the first to entertain large groups of children each day as live guests on the shows, totalling over 400,000. Benny’s obvious love for children won him the admiration and loyalty of thousands of Alabama families.  As his popularity grew throughout the South his method and style were copied by TV stations all over America.  Among his acting credits- an early 60’s Hollywood role as the telegraph operator in TV’s The Rifleman series starring Chuck Connors. A tireless fundraiser, he helped raise millions for Cerebral Palsy and other diseases by hosting live broadcast telethons annually, and he travelled the state doing public appearances, Golden Flake Auctions, Benny Bucks Auctions, and Coo Coo Pon Caravan campaigns to help children in need.

In 1965 Benny became part owner and manager of TV23 in Decatur, changed the Channel to 48 and moved the station to Huntsville. He sold that facility and moved to Florence in 1977 to begin WBCF-AM/FM/TV. The family-owned facilities are operated by his son, Benji Carle.

Benny was a World War Two veteran of the US Merchant Marines and held combat ribbons for both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of hostilities, including the D-Day Invasion of Normandy and the VJ-Day surrender of Japan. He was born, raised and educated in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended Ullman and Glen Iris grade schools, Ramsay High school and Birmingham Southern College. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Patricia and three sons, Benji, Jay and Jim. 

Thanks for the memories!

 

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