Lloyd Thaxton, whose teen dance show was a widely syndicated hit in the mid-1960s and who later went behind the camera to win five Emmys as producer-director of a consumer-advocacy show, died of multiple myeloma Sunday Oct. 5 at his home in Studio City, Calif. He was 81.
“The Lloyd Thaxton Show,” which originated as “Lloyd Thaxton’s Record Shop” (later “Thaxton’s Hop”) on Los Angeles’ KCOP in 1959, aired five days a week in national syndication from 1964 to 1968. Top performers, including James Brown, the Byrds and Sonny & Cher, appeared on the show.
But while it featured L.A. teens dancing to the latest hits, it went beyond the “American Bandstand” model with its host’s penchant for comedy and generally irreverent treatment of the pop scene.
Thaxton would lip-sync to the tunes, fake piano or guitar accompaniment, wear offbeat garb and even paint faces on his thumb and have it “perform” the song.
Thaxton’s lighthearted take on popular culture, and his self-deprecating signoff (“My name is Lloyd Thaxton,” to which the teen guests would shout, “So what?”), became his TV signature.
In 1965, he helped found Tiger Beat magazine (then known as “Lloyd Thaxton’s Tiger Beat”), a fan magazine for teens that is still published today.
Thaxton also hosted the ABC daytime game shows “Everybody’s Talking” (1967) and “Funny You Should Ask” (1968-69) and NBC’s summer new-talent show “Showcase ’68.”
He created and produced the syndicated sports gameshow “Pro-Fan” in 1977, produced NBC’s early reality-TV show “Speak Up America” (1980) and later directed episodes of “America’s Funniest People” in the 1990s.
During the 1970s he hosted a radio talkshow on L.A.’s KABC and later wrote and produced the tongue-in-cheek radio series “Mansion of Mystery.”
Thaxton spent 18 years as writer, producer and director of “Consumer Buyline” and its successor, “Fight Back! With David Horowitz,” which began in the 1970s and continued in syndication into the early ’90s. He also wrote, produced and directed more than 200 “Today Show” segments.
Thaxton was born in Memphis, Tenn., but grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where, after graduating from Northwestern U., he began his career in live TV. He moved to L.A. in 1957, and worked as an announcer and radio host.
In 2003, he co-authored (with John Alston) the book “Stuff Happens! (And Then You Fix It).” At the time of his death, he was working on a DVD collection drawn from surviving videotapes of his 1960s “Lloyd Thaxton Show.”
Survivors include his wife, Barbara; a daughter, country singer Jennifer Weatherly Wainwright; two stepsons from his first marriage, Lee and Robin Thaxton; and a grandson.
In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research, 9201 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 300, Los Angeles CA 90069.