Jimmy Kimmel is doing the right thing – paying loving tribute to his beloved Uncle Frank, who passed away Aug. 23.
Since he played such a huge part on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and Jimmy’s affection for him was no doubt sincere and heartfelt, it’s only natural that Uncle Frank would get a full-bore salute on the show when it returns from a two-week, end-of-summer hiatus next Tuesday (Sept. 6). The show was in the first week of its summer break when Uncle Frank died.
When the show returns Sept. 6, it will likely be devoted entirely to remembering Uncle Frank, or at least in part. A terse announcement late Thursday from ABC didn’t provide details about the length and breadth of the planned tribute, but our guess is, it will, rightfully, take up the whole show.
The details ABC did provide: Numerous Uncle Frank comedy bits will be shown, including his “interviews” with a wide range of celebrities – from Tom Cruise to Kermit the Frog. And Don Rickles will be in the studio to reminisce with Jimmy about Frank. The announcement didn’t specify whether Rickles had any personal connection with Uncle Frank, although the two were members of the same generation (Rickles is 85). According to Wikipedia, Uncle Frank once served as a security guard for Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas – which means Rickles may have known him years earlier.
Uncle Frank – in real life Frank Potenza – was 77. The cause of his death was reportedly cancer. Born in Brooklyn, the Korean War veteran and retired member of the New York Police Department became a “security guard” on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in 2003 and became an integral part of the show up until only a short time before his death.
He was often seen standing beside fellow security guard Guillermo Diaz, with whom he appeared in comedy bits. Joining them was another security team member – Veatrice Rice – until her death in 2009.
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs weeknights at midnight on ABC.