Howard Stern’s “Wack Pack” comprises guests/superfans from his radio and TV shows who make names for themselves due to their unusual, hilarious, and sometimes shocking personalities and behaviors. There have been dozens of memorable Wack Packers over the years, but unfortunately many have passed away before their time.
Ted The Janitor
One of the first Wack Packers was Ted the Janitor, whose real name was Ted Green. He was the custodian at WXRK in New York and was most known for popularizing the “Road” as well as for his spot-on parody of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. He passed away in 1996.
Joey Boots, real name Joseph Bassolino, died in his Bronx apartment on Dec. 23, 2016. He was just 49 years old. Boots’ death was ruled a heroin overdose by the New York City medical examiner. Boots was very open about his struggles with drug addiction on The Howard Stern Show. Joey had a problem with cocaine and crack. After he passed away, some of his friends told TMZ they thought he was clean and no longer using illegal substances. Boots’ body was found by fellow Wack Packer High Pitch Erik. Erik got worried when he couldn’t reach Boots and found his pal “sitting in front of his computer.”
During his tenure on the show, Boots popularized the catchphrase, “Baba Booey.” It was a nickname he used for show producer, Gary Dell’abate. Boots often used the phrase during prank phone calls and on live television broadcasts. Stern would often play his favorite “Baba Booeys” that fans shouted in public. In January 2017, Stern hosted a special goodbye to Boots. SiriusXM radio show’s staffer Memet Walker paid tribute to Boots, posting a photo and writing on Instagram: “Joey Boots wasn’t a Wack Packer to me… he was a genuine friend. I’m gonna miss you like hell, buddy.”
Crackhead Bob, 56, died in January 2016. He made an impression on Stern in the mid-1990s after the talk show host spotted him at several public appearances. Stern said of Bob during a 2007 show, “He was always first in line at any of the signings.” Bob made his first appearance on the program in 1995. The crew believed he had cerebral palsy or some other debilitating condition because of his unusual appearance and speech. However, Bob revealed on air that he looked that way because he smoked crack, and a series of strokes permanently paralyzed parts of his body.
Surrounded by Drugs
Oftentimes it was difficult to decipher what Crackhead Bob, real name George Harvey, was trying to communicate, and he had trouble describing at what age he started doing drugs. But through hand motions and noises, he revealed that his addiction started at the age of 25. Bob appeared on the show on numerous occasions between 1995 and 2001 and even helped interview Chris Rock. In the late ’90s, he starred in an anti-drug PSA. He left the show in 2001 because drugs and alcohol were readily available at many of the paid appearances he made on behalf of Stern’s program.
Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf
Stern producer Gary Dell’Abate said of first meeting Hank outside the K-Rock studios in Manhattan in 1996: “There was a dwarf standing there, and I remember he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and one of those Hawaiian leis. And he had a vodka bottle in his hand… and he was drunk beyond belief. And it really was like a gift for our show. It was like a gift fell out of the sky.” Hank made it on the show that day, and Stern commented: “I’ve always wanted an angry, drunken dwarf on my program and now I’ve got one”.
The Most Beautiful Person in the World
In 1998, Hank fans voted Hank the most beautiful person in the world in the lead up to People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” issue. He had 230,169 votes (compared to Leonardo DiCaprio who had 14,471 votes). Hank had a massive drinking problem and tried to cut back on several occasions. He had his first sip of alcohol at age 8 and began drinking regularly at 14. He died in his sleep in 2001. According to his death certificate, his immediate cause of death was a seizure disorder with ethanol abuse and condrodystrophy as contributing factors. Stern devoted his entire show to Hank the following day.
Blue Iris first appeared on Stern’s show in 2004. She was a granny porn regular who cemented her status as a Wack Packer after infamously french kissing Artie Lange on air. Artie was forced into the 10-second lip lock after he lost a bet to pro wrestler Chris Kanyon. Iris, whose real name is Ellen Niermer Pinsky, reportedly had shock therapy in her 20s that she blamed for several of her health problems. She was known for talking dirty and the popular catchphrases that she used during the show’s prank calls. She died of a heart attack in 2009, which left her brain dead.
Riley Martin had his own show on Howard 101 from 2006 until 2015. His claim to fame was that he had been abducted by an alien race known as the Biaviians. In 1990, he wrote the book The Coming Of Tan in which he described being kidnapped by the extraterrestrial beings in 1953 when he was seven years old. The book’s co-author was listed as the leader of the Biaviians, O-Qua Tangin Wann (a.k.a Tan). Riley said he was abducted again in 1975. He claimed to possess symbols that would help him and anyone else who had them get a “future airlift” onto a “distant, beautiful, un-polluted planet.”
Riley’s Infamous Jug
Riley often complained on air that he needed to be paid more money by SiriusXM and Stern, demanding a more “decent salary.” He was also known for using a “piss jug.” He often used a large glass container to relieve himself while broadcasting from his studio at home. At one point, fans were able to purchase their own jugs from his online store. Riley was known for making appearances on other shows, including The Jerry Springer Show. He died at age 69 in 2016 after battling “significant health issues.” Jim McClure, Senior Director of Programming, said following his death: “The Riley I knew off the air was a very kind, smart, and funny person.”
Nicole Bass was a bodybuilder in the 1990s. It was a running gag on The Howard Stern show to wonder if she was a man or a woman due to her physical size and deep voice. She made numerous appearances on the show and was a contestant in the 1993 pay-per-view television event The Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant. That cemented her member status in the Wack Pack. Bass’s husband Richard “Bob” Fuchs died in his sleep at age 64 in 2013. Nicole was in a relationship with her business partner, Kristen Marrone, at the time of his passing.
Lawsuit & Untimely Death
Nicole was a bodyguard for Justin Credible in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and was signed by then-WWF during the Attitude Era. She was supposed to play Sable’s bodyguard but was terminated after just a few months. She sued WWF over the termination and also claimed sexual harassment. A New York jury ruled in favor of WWF in 2002. After leaving pro wrestling, Bass continued on in the independent wrestling circuit as well as performed bookings for public events and made money personal training. She died in 2017 at the age of 52 after being declared medically brain dead following a stroke.
Eric the Actor
Eric the actor, whose real name was real name Eric Shaun Lynch, was 3’5″, 85 pounds and used a motorized wheelchair to get around. He first called into The Howard Stern Show in 2002 to discuss Stern’s comments about American Idol contestant Kelly Clarkson. Eric had a unique voice and speaking style and often butted heads with Stern, his staff, callers and guests. He made just one appearance on the show in 2008 alongside two hookers from the Bunny Ranch. He died in 2014 after being admitted to the hospital for heart problems. He was so popular, stars such as Zach Braff, Zac Efron and Diana Degarmo tweeted their condolences.
The great Rapping Granny Fruity Nutcake, real name Martha Matilda Lenowski died in January 2015. The hip-hop singing senior citizen first appeared on The Howard Stern Show in 1999 but didn’t make frequent stops on the program. Her appearances were rare yet hilarious. In 2006, she roasted Ronnie “The Limo Driver” Mund and was also famous for riding the Sybian (a sexual stimulation device) a whopping two times. In addition to her singing prowess, she was also known for her signature outfit: a leopard-print leotard over Depends adult diapers. She died at age 95 during the winter 2015 blizzard.
Celestine Tate Harrington appeared on The Howard Stern Show six times in the late ’80s and 1990s. She was a quadriplegic street musician who famously played the keyboard with her lips, teeth, and tongue. She performed on the street in front of Bally’s Park Place casino and Caesars, playing songs including “Amazing Grace,” “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” “America the Beautiful,” and other patriotic hymns and religious tunes. She made her first telephone appearance on his radio show in 1989 where Stern listened to her play music. He also invited her to play tennis at the U.S. Open Sores live event.
An Incredible Life
When she had a daughter in 1975, the Philadelphia Department of Public Welfare tried to remove the baby from Celestine’s care due to her disability. Her child custody court battle made national headlines. She stunned the court after dressing and undressing her baby Niya using only her lips, teeth and tongue. She was eventually given full joint custody with her grandparents under “protective supervision of the court”. Celestine died of massive head injuries at the age of 42 in 1998 after she was struck by two colliding cars while she was traveling on an Atlantic City street on her motorized gurney.
Kenneth Keith Kallenbach
Kenneth made dozens of appearances on The Howard Stern Show starting in 1990. Stern referred to Kenneth as the “ultimate airhead” in his book Private Parts and once compared him to the MTV characters Beavis and Butt-head. In addition to the Stern show, Kenneth appeared on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Jay Leno’s Tonight, show and had some uncredited appearances in HBO’s Sex and the City and the film Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise. He also made news for breaking the law and winding up in prison. Kenneth Keith Kallenbach became sick in jail and died at the age of 39 in 2008.
Child Abduction Charge
In March 2008, police arrested Kenneth in Pennsylvania and charged him with attempted child abduction after he was accused of trying to lure a young girl into his vehicle. Kenneth denied any wrongdoing. He posted bail and was released from jail but was forced to return after violating terms of his probation. Kenneth contracted pneumonia while in custody and died at the hospital due to complications of cystic fibrosis. His mother accused the Delaware County Prison of not providing adequate medical care for her son. She also said Kenneth called her a few days before he died and begged her for help.
Johnny Fratto, a regular guest on the Howard Stern Show, died at age 61 in 2015 after battling lung cancer. Fratto was a frequent caller and good friend and former manager of Eric the Actor. He owned the Beverly Hills Choppers motorcycle and bike company. Fratto’s father was the Chicago mob-tied Louis Thomas Fratto. Johnny often called into the show with hilarious stories, such as the time he was too sick to see the Harlem Globetrotters so his father had the Globetrotters come to him. Johnny also claimed a NASA space capsule wound up in his living room for two weeks.
Cliff Palete, real name Lynn Zimmerman, was also known as Lispy Lynn. He had a very distinctive voice and first appeared on The Howard Stern Show when he tried to win a date with porn star Ashely Blue. He died in 2006 at age 54 of Myelofibrosis just hours after revealing that his speech impediment was not the result of a cleft palate but from tongue paralysis. Zimmerman was beloved by fans. MyDeathSpace.com reported in 2006: “Unlike so many in our wack pack universe, Lynn was pretty much liked by everyone…Lynn was not shunned in school growing up. He had good friends up until the day he died.”