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How Did Tom Hatten Die? New Details About The 'Popeye And Friends' Host's Death

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How Did Tom Hatten Die? New Details About The 'Popeye and Friends' Host's Death

Tom Hatten has died. 

The death of longtime Los Angeles TV personality — best known as the host of KTLA's "Popeye and Friends" — was confirmed on March 16 by his KTLA Channel 5. They honored Hatten's life and dedication to the channel, by calling him a "local legend." He had been with the network since 1952 when he joined as an announcer.

Former KTLA producer and Hatten's longtime friend Joe Quasarano told the station of his death.

So how did Tom Hatten die? Here's what we know.

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1. He loved being in show business.

From 1976 to 1988, Hatten hosted the daily children's show, "Popeye and Friends." He also hosted "Family Film Festival" from 1978 to 1992. And according to his own words, he loved it.

“I don’t mind having fun in small parts, or doing a kids’ show,” he told the Los Angeles Times in a 1991 interview. “I don’t mind doing what I’m doing as long as I’m in the business.”

2. He wasn't just a host.

In addition to hosting family-friendly shows, the broadcaster also made a living as a writer, producer, and actor.

He was in six episodes of "Gomer Pyle: USMC" during the 1960s, had a small role in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" in 1994 and was even given a recent credit in the 2004 short film "Bravura."

He was also featured in "Hogan's Heroes," "Get Smart," "Wings" and "Hawaii 5-0." On the big screen, he was seen in "Spies Like Us" and "Sweet Charity." Hatten even made his way to Broadway, playing the role of FDR in "Annie."

"I went after the part and I got it," he said. "But if I had just waited for an agent to submit me with 19 other guys with large jaws and ability to imitate Roosevelt, I probably wouldn't be talking to you now. I really wanted this part. I had seen it in New York and I knew that I could cut it if I could get the crack at the interview. That's the toughest job in show business. . . . Happily, when different production companies do it, they think of me. . . . It is something that I'll probably always get a crack at. . . . Although it's part of my baggage, it isn't the entire valise."

3. He was also on the radio.

In the newsroom, he worked as the entertainment editor at KNX 1070 News Radio from 1978 to 2007. During those years, he said he liked to keep his broadcasts "like old time radio."

"I enjoyed listening to Jimmy Fidler and Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper and all these people from Hollywood."

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4. He loved jazz.

Those who knew Hatten said that he had a sharp wit and a knowledge of Hollywood and Broadway. He also loved jazz and cabaret. Back in his hay-day, when he wasn't working, he said he went to several events, parties, benefits, and tributes.

"I go see things I want to see, and there aren't that many things I want to see," he once said in an interview.

5. He is survived by his partner.

Hatten is survived by his partner, Pete Menifee. They were together for 50 years and had many nieces and nephews between each other.

Television critic Robert Lloyd wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times about how much Hatten meant to young viewers like himself.

"He was youthful and fit and handsome, relatable, like a particularly cool teacher or camp counselor. He projected a light-footed capability," he wrote. 

"Unlike other local kids’ show hosts, who might later intermittently rise from their rockers for a nostalgic celebration — many were not otherwise professional entertainers — Hatten remained a public presence."

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Emily Blackwood is a writer and editor living in California. She covers all things news, pop culture and true crime.