Benjamin Svetkey
April 16, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Insomniac alert: Only five more months to catch dancing dentists, aging belly dancers, and spoon-playing maestros on The Joe Franklin Show. After 43 years, the schmooze king says he’s pulling the plug on his schmaltzy late-night chatfest, which Billy Crystal parodied on Saturday Night Live. ”I’m on a very big popularity streak right now,” insists Franklin, 64. ”And my motto has always been to leave before you get evicted.”

The show — seen across the country via New Jersey superstation WWOR-TV — ends next August, but Franklin won’t fade away from television completely. His inimitable discourses with silent-movie dow-agers and stars of Tin Pan Alley — as well as his historic sessions with Elvis and John Lennon — will still be shown in reruns. And Franklin isn’t ruling out an eventual comeback. ”What I’ve got going for me is venerability,” he says. ”I’ve been around so long I’ve become a habit.”

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