Radio personality and TV announcer Charlie Tuna died Feb. 19 at his home in Tarzana, Calif. He was 71. According to his website, he died in his sleep.
A fixture on Los Angeles radio starting in the late ’60s, Tuna was part of the legendary KHJ Boss Jock lineup and helped launch KROQ-AM and KIIS. He served as both program director and morning man for KIIS AM and FM.
Tuna, whose real name was Art Ferguson, was a native of Kearney, Nebraska. He was said to have worked on more stations and formats than anyone in Los Angeles radio history.
The popular DJ got his start in radio at 16, working for his hometown radio station KGFW. He took on the name Charlie Tuna from another DJ while working in Oklahoma.
He was also heard daily on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he had a 6,000-episode run from 1971-96.
In addition to his radio career, Tuna appeared in movies “Rollercoaster” and “Raquet” and announced for TV shows including “Scrabble,” “The Mike Douglas Show,” “Thicke of the Night” and “America’s Top 10 With Casey Kasem.” He also hosted syndicated movie show “Cinema, Cinema, Cinema” for 30 years.
The DJ’s philanthropic endeavors included raising over $2.5 million for Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles with his annual “Tunathon,” and emceeing the Revlon Run/Walk for five years. A longtime Tarzana resident, he had served as the city’s honorary mayor since 1977.
Tuna received numerous honors including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990; in 1997, he was voted one of the top 10 L.A. radio personalities of all time; and in 1999, he was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
Donations may be made to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.