Sam Riddle, Famed L.A. Disc Jockey and ‘Star Search’ Producer, Dies at 83

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Sam Riddle, the popular Los Angeles “Boss Radio” deejay of the 1960s who went on to produce the Ed McMahon-hosted TV talent show Star Search, has died. He was 83.

Riddle died Monday at his home in Palm Desert after a battle with Lewy body dementia, a publicist announced.

In an era when radio disc jockeys exerted huge influence on sales and pop culture, the Texas native started out in L.A. radio on KRLA and jumped to KFWB before landing at KHJ-93, where he became one of the founding jocks behind the “Boss Radio” format.

By virtue of his influence in charting hits, he appeared as a race announcer in the Elvis Presley starrer Clambake (1967).

On television, Riddle hosted 9th Street West and Hollywood a Go Go, which showcased such acts as The Rolling Stones, James Brown and Sonny & Cher. The recent HBO documentary Tina showed him introducing Ike & Tina Turner before their first big TV appearance.

On the syndicated Star Search, which ran from 1983-95, Riddle gave career breaks to such future stars as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Dave Chappelle and Christina Aguilera.

Riddle was born on Dec. 12, 1937, in Fort Worth, Texas. After his parents, Robert and Juanita, divorced, his stepfather, Sam Hand, who owned a dairy farm and advertised in local radio, helped get Riddle his first job on the radio at age 16.

He served in the Air Force Reserves during the Vietnam War and worked as a deejay for stations in Arizona and San Diego before coming to Los Angeles.

Riddle’s producing résumé included the shows Boss City, Aloha a Go Go, Get It Together (with Mama Cass), Almost Anything Goes, The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, Supermodel of the World, Out of the Blue, It’s Showtime at the Apollo, Livin’ Large and The Ultimate Poker Challenge.

He also oversaw the early creation and production of specials and series for Telemundo and Univision and managed acts for such labels as Sony/BMG and EMI Latin.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Adrienne; children Scott and Courtney; and grandchildren Miracle and Garin.

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