Media host, software developer Les Crane dies at 74

Radio host and one-time Johnny Carson talk show rival Les Crane, who found later success as a software developer and publisher, has died at the age of 74.

Radio host and one-time Johnny Carson talk show rival Les Crane, who found later success as a software developer and publisher, has died at the age of 74.

Crane died Sunday of natural causes at a hospital north of San Francisco, according to his daughter, Caprice.

The New York-born Crane rose to fame in the 1960s as a late-night radio talk show host. For a time, he also hosted a TV talk show that rivaled The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Though short-lived, Crane's more hard-hitting program did score a number of prime, albeit sometimes controversial, guests.

In 1964, he welcomed the Rolling Stones for the band's first U.S. TV appearance and, the following year, had a rare TV visit from Bob Dylan. However, his guest list also included notable figures of the day such as civil rights leader Malcolm X and pro-segregation former Alabama governor and one-time presidential candidate George Wallace.

Crane, who dabbled in film and TV acting, won a Grammy Award in the spoken word recording category for 1971's Desiderata, featuring his performance of an inspirational poem popular during the 1960s counterculture movement.

The recording spawned a popular National Lampoon parody that Crane later claimed he preferred over his own.

Later, he left the media and entertainment industry and eventually landed in the budding computer software business. Crane headed up the successful developing and publishing firm The Software Toolworks and helped develop widely used programs like the Chessmaster games and the Mavis Beacon typing series.

Crane was married five times, with one of his wives being Gilligan's Island actress Tina Louise, the mother of his daughter Caprice.

He is survived by his wife, Ginger Crane.

With files from the Associated Press