Fred Robbins, a Baltimore-born radio personality who became a TV host and celebrity interviewer in New York, died of lymphoma in a hospital there Tuesday. He was 73.
Mr. Robbins graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School but chose to go into broadcasting and magazine writing. His broadcast experience began in Baltimore at radio station WITH.
In 1942, he joined WHN radio in New York City. He first won wide attention for his snappy patter on the "1280 Club" jazz show on radio station WOV in New York City. He would begin by intoning such slangy verbal riffs as:
"Hiya cat, wipe your feet on the mat. Let's slap on the fat and dish out some scat."
Mr. Robbins became the disc jockey of the "Robbins Nest" radio show on WINS, WABC and WNEW, all in New York, and the host of television variety and quiz shows, including "The Eddie Fisher Coke Time Hour" and "Haggis Baggis," an NBC-TV quiz show.
He did interview programs for many radio networks and filmed nearly 100 behind-the-scenes features on movie-making that were broadcast for nearly a decade on "CBS Movie Nights."
He also was a feature interviewer for Cable News Network and wrote profiles of celebrities for many magazines, among them US, Gentleman's Quarterly, Family Weekly, Vogue, Penthouse, Saturday Evening Post and New Woman. He was co-author of a biography of comedian Richard Pryor called, "This Cat's Got Nine Lives."
A eulogy he gave for the great trumpet player, Louis Armstrong, was read into the Congressional Record: "Move over Gabriel, here comes Satchmo."
In addition to his wife, Ingrid, his survivors include two daughters, Lorelei Robbins of Atlanta and Cathy Robbins of New Orleans; three sisters, Joyce Tannenbaum of Potomac and Floryne Myers and Gail Levy, both of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.
Services were conducted in New York yesterday. The family suggested memorial donations to the American Cancer Society.