Sam Riddle, the famous Los Angeles DJ of the 1960s and producer of long-running talent show “Star Search,” died at his home in Palm Desert, Calif, on Monday, a representative confirmed to Variety. He was 83. Riddle had been suffering from Lewy Body Dementia.
Starting his career as a radio jock, Riddle was recognized as one of the founding figures behind the “Boss Radio” format. Moving to TV, he then hosted Los Angeles variety shows, including “9th Street West” and “Hollywood A-Go-Go.” He eventually became a producer, working on shows such as ABC’s “Almost Anything Goes” and “Star Search Starring Ed McMahon,” where he gave career breaks to stars such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Dave Chappelle, Christina Aguilera and many more. Additionally, he’s known for recognizing the Spanish-language market and oversaw the early creation and production of numerous specials and series for Telemundo and Univision, including “Ritmo Internacional” and the “Fiesta de Año Nuevo” franchise.
He also produced “The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars,” “The Songwriters Hall of Fame Special” on CBS, “Supermodel of the World,” “You Write The Songs,” “Out of the Blue,” “Vibin’ With Fox,” “It’s Showtime at The Apollo,” “Weekend Vibe” and “Livin’ Large.”
Riddle was born in 1937 in Fort Worth, Texas. His stepfather was instrumental in realizing Riddle’s dream of becoming a DJ and broke him into Texas radio. He started at KRLA, then went to KFWB followed by KHJ-93. Additionally, Riddle served in the Air Force Reserves during the Vietnam War but did not see conflict.
Riddle is survived by his wife Adrienne as well as children Scott and Courtney, and grandchildren Miracle and Garin.