A genial television and radio personality with an innate knack for drawing outrageous responses from contestants, Bob Eubanks rose to national fame as the host of the bawdy "Newlywed Game" (ABC/syndicated/GSN, 1966-1974; 1977-1980; 1984; 1985-89; 1996-99; 2009- ). A former DJ at the top-rated Los Angeles rock station KRLA who brokered the Beatles' appearances at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964, Eubanks made a smooth transition to television in the late 1960s with the Chuck Barris-produced show, where his smooth delivery and bemused demeanor made it easy for nervous couples to divulge intimate details of their personal lives for cash. A Top 10 hit in its initial network run, and a perennial favorite in syndication, "The Newlywed Game" would keep Eubanks busy for over six decades while cultivating a career as one of television's most popular game show hosts on a variety of other series.
The only child born to Missouri natives John Eubanks, and his wife Gertrude, on Jan. 8, 1938 in Flint, MI, Robert Leland Eubanks was raised primarily in the California suburb of Pasadena. There, he worked for a period as a child model in print advertisements and developed an interest in music by playing guitar in a preteen country & western band. After graduating from Pasadena High School in 1955, he followed his father into a career in aviation at Lockheed, but after watching a co-worker die from a heart attack while on the job, he quickly abandoned the field and relocated to Hollywood, where he worked as the doorman at the famed Egyptian Theatre. From there, Eubanks completed training in radio production and landed the graveyard shift at KACY in the rural California town of Oxnard. The job proved fruitless - at one point, Eubanks worked a four-hour shift without realizing that the station was off the air - so he returned to Hollywood, where in 1960 he found work with KRLA, one of only two radio stations in Los Angeles playing rock-and-roll.
As rock and pop acts began to dominate the record business in the early 1960s, KRLA also took over the Los Angeles market, which made Eubanks one of the most popular DJs in the city. Still in his twenties, he established a name for himself by booking and promoting shows featuring some of the biggest names in the music business, including Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and the Beach Boys. In 1964, he made the history books by mortgaging his home to bring the Beatles to the Hollywood Bowl, and would continue to bring successful acts like the Rolling Stones, the Who and Cream to Los Angeles throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Eubanks also established a chain of popular nightclubs for teen audiences in Studio City called the Cinnamon Club, which booked rising pop and rock bands.
Eubanks first appeared on camera in 1963 as host of "The Cinnamon Cinder Show" (1963-65), a live music program filmed at the Santa Monica Pier that aired on Los Angeles' KCOP. When the series ran its course, producer Chuck Barris tapped Eubanks to host his new game show, "The Newlywed Game," for ABC. Eubanks' polished yet youthful persona - he was only 28 when he began hosting the program - was the perfect match for the show, which quizzed newly married men and women on their respective personality quirks, with a coyly worded focus on the bedroom. Network standards and practices prevented Eubanks from using the phrase "make love" in his questions, so he fell back on his music interests to find a replacement and borrowed "Makin' Whoopee" from the venerable jazz standard. Eubanks' low-key, conversational style put contestants at ease, and produced some surprising and often uproarious results, most notably in an infamous 1974 episode where a bride responded to Eubanks' inquiry about the strangest place she'd ever had sex with her husband with an explicit reference to anal intercourse. The show's mix of laughs and naughty banter helped to make it a Top 10 series from its inception through 1973.
While working on "Newlywed," Eubanks launched a second career in artist management, and oversaw the lucrative careers of such top country musicians as Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell while producing concerts for Merle Haggard, George Jones and Marty Robbins. When "Newlywed" ended its network run after over 2,000 episodes in 1974, Eubanks worked on other game shows, including "Rhyme and Reason" (ABC, 1975-76) and "The Diamond Head Game" (syndicated, 1975), the first game show taped in Hawaii, but none matched the popularity of his original series. By 1977, Eubanks was back as the host of a syndicated version of "Newlywed" while branching into producing with "All Star Secrets" (NBC, 1979) and others. He also began a long-running stint as commentator for the Tournament of Roses Parade for Los Angeles' KTLA in 1978.
Eubanks returned to "Newlywed" throughout the 1980s and 1990s, hosting syndicated versions from 1985 to 1988 and 1997 to 1999. Between assignments, he served as host of a revamped "Dream House" (ABC, 1983-84) and "Card Sharks" (CBS, 1985-89) and produced a variety of shows, including a revival of "You Bet Your Life" (Syndicated, 1980) with Buddy Hackett. In 1989, Eubanks was at the center of controversy for an unguarded interview moment in Michael Moore's documentary "Roger and Me" (1989) where he told an off-color joke with anti-Semitic overtones. The incident appeared to have little effect on his popularity, as he was back hosting his final network game show, "Family Secrets" (NBC) in 1993. He also made a stab at acting, largely as himself, on a variety of comedies including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC, 1990-96) and "That '70s Show" (Fox, 1998-2006), but admitted that he found his hosting duties more satisfying.
In 2008, Eubanks hosted "Most Outrageous Game Show Moments" (NBC, 2005-09), a clip show that showcased decades of classic bloopers, including several from his "Newlywed" days. He also served as one of three rotating hosts for "The $250,000 Game Show Spectacular," a live game show at the Las Vegas Hilton, in 2008. The following year, he served as guest host of the Game Show Network's revival of "The Newlywed Game." He would return the following year for a special "Game Show Host" edition with Peter Marshall, Monty Hall and Wink Martindale as the contestants; the episode would usher Eubanks into the history books as the only person to host the same show in six consecutive decades.