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Also Known As: Hugh Malcolm Downs Died:
Born: February 14, 1921 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Akron, Ohio, USA Profession: TV host, TV announcer, pilot

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An easy-going, warm if placid TV announcer and personality, Hugh Downs was certified by "The Guinness Book of Records" in 1985 as having hosted more hours on TV than anyone else in the history of the medium and that record has continued to grow into the 90s. Downs has never been considered a newsman, yet he has hosted two news programs NBC's "Today" and ABC's "20/20". He has never been considered an entertainer, yet he was the announcer for Sid Caesar's variety series "Caesar's Hour" (NBC, 1956-57) and for Jack Paar during Paar's reign as host of "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1957-62). Downs was not a career game show host, yet he was emcee for NBC's "Concentration" for 11 years from 1958-69. If he had any genre to call his own, it could well be informational programming for senior citizens, as Downs has a post-graduate degree in gerontology and hosted the PBS series "Over Easy" (1977-81) as well as the ABC special "Growing Old in America" (1985). Safe to say, there is no one who finds Hugh Downs offensive on the airwaves. Neither exuding loads of personality, nor bland, Downs began in broadcasting in 1939 in Lima, OH, as a radio announcer, then moved to Detroit, MI, just prior to World War II with the...

An easy-going, warm if placid TV announcer and personality, Hugh Downs was certified by "The Guinness Book of Records" in 1985 as having hosted more hours on TV than anyone else in the history of the medium and that record has continued to grow into the 90s.

Downs has never been considered a newsman, yet he has hosted two news programs NBC's "Today" and ABC's "20/20". He has never been considered an entertainer, yet he was the announcer for Sid Caesar's variety series "Caesar's Hour" (NBC, 1956-57) and for Jack Paar during Paar's reign as host of "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1957-62). Downs was not a career game show host, yet he was emcee for NBC's "Concentration" for 11 years from 1958-69. If he had any genre to call his own, it could well be informational programming for senior citizens, as Downs has a post-graduate degree in gerontology and hosted the PBS series "Over Easy" (1977-81) as well as the ABC special "Growing Old in America" (1985). Safe to say, there is no one who finds Hugh Downs offensive on the airwaves.

Neither exuding loads of personality, nor bland, Downs began in broadcasting in 1939 in Lima, OH, as a radio announcer, then moved to Detroit, MI, just prior to World War II with the same duties. NBC moved him to Chicago in 1943, where he stayed for several years as the staff announcer for radio and TV. In the late 40s, Downs served as the announcer for the famed "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" puppet show. After a stint as host of "Home" in Chicago in the early 50s, he moved to NYC where he continued as an announcer for NBC variety series. During the same period, Downs began hosting "Concentration", a popular and long-running game show, and, from 1957, appeared on its morning broadcast "Today". He took over the role of host of "Today" in 1962, and remained with the show for 10 years.

In 1972, Downs semi-retired to Arizona, handling numerous hosting duties on documentaries as well as "Over Easy" for PBS. After six years, he returned to weekly TV as the host of the ABC newsmagazine "20/20". In the 80s, he was joined by Barbara Walters as co-host, reuniting the duo from "Today". Downs has continued to be adventuresome, as in a "20/20" segment in which he dove into a cage with a great white shark in Australia. He has also devoted himself to programs with great human benefit. Downs anchored a 1990 ABC News special entitled "Depression: Beyond the Darkness" and has often participated in programs which discuss and investigate how our future will be affected by the mishandling of the environment. Additionally, he has hosted the PBS series "Live From Lincoln Center" since 1990. A veteran or more than 50 years in broadcasting, Downs has received numerous lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Oh God! Book II (1980)
2.
 Woman Of The Year (1976) Himself
3.
 Nothing By Chance (1974) Narration
4.
 A Global Affair (1964) Television commentator
5.
 Little Angel (1961) Narrator
6.
 The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1961) Prolog narrator
7.
8.
 Barbara Walters: A Driving Force (2000) Interviewee
9.
 70s: The Decade That Changed Television, The (2000) Segment Host ("Reality")
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1939:
Began broadcasting career as a radio announcer in Lima, OH
1940:
Served as staff announcer for WWJ in Detroit, MI
:
Was staff announcer for NBC in Chicago
1942:
Made acting debut with uncredited role of a reporter in "Roxie Hart," starring Ginger Rogers
1943:
Served briefly in the U.S. Army
1949:
Was announcer on the children's show "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" (NBC, ABC)
1951:
Hosted "Your Luncheon Date"
1956:
Worked as announcer for "Caesar's Hour" (NBC)
1958:
Worked as announcer for "The Jack Paar Tonight Show" (NBC)
1960:
Published autobiography <i>Yours Truly, Hugh Downs"
1962:
Began anchoring for NBC's "Today"
1966:
Hosted NBC game show "Concentration"
1975:
Executive produced and narrated the documentary "Nothing by Chance"
1978:
Emceed talk program "Over Easy" (PBS)
1978:
Anchored the ABC newsmagazine "20/20"; in the 1980s, reunited with Barbara Walters from the "Today" show
1980:
Made a cameo as a newscaster in the comedy feature "Oh, God! Book II"
1990:
Hosted PBS classical music showcase "Live From Lincoln Center"
2001:
Made a guest voice appearance on animated series "Family Guy" (Fox)
2007:
Inducted into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, NV
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hunter College: New York , New York -
Bluffton College: Bluffton , Ohio - 1938 - 1939
Wayne State University: Detroit , Michigan - 1940 - 1941
Columbia University: New York , New York - 1955 - 1956

Notes

In 1992 Downs completed a certificate program in geriatric education at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ruth Shaheen. Married in 1944.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Milton Howard Downs.
mother:
Edith Downs.
cousin:
Davy Crockett. His 4th cousin.
son:
Hugh Raymond Downs. News writer.
daughter:
Deirdre Lynn Downs.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Hugh Downs' Years Book" Dell
"My Ten Thousand Hours on Television" G.P. Putnam's Sons
"Yours Truly, Hugh Downs"
"Rings Around Tomorrow Doubleday
"A Shoal of Stars"
"Potential"
"Thirty Dirty Lies About Old"
"Fifty to Forever"
"Perspectives"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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