Hugh Downs, Former Today Host, Dead at 99

Lawrence Kim
July 4, 2020

Downs was known for his prolific career in television, both as an anchor for NBC's "Today" show and as a co-host of ABC's "20/20" alongside Barbara Walters.

Hugh was born in Akron, Ohio and he got his broadcasting start on radio in Detroit and Chicago before moving to TV in 1949 as an announcer on a classic children's puppet show called, "Kukla, Fran and Ollie". He also lent his voice to Hawkins Falls, which is regarded as the first successful soap opera on television as it ran for five years in the 1950s.

Downs' television work ranged from "Today", NBC's morning news show, to "Tonight", working with Jack Paar. He then moved to NBC in NY as an announcer for The Home Show, then as Jack Paar's sidekick on The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962, where he spent more time on-camera. The show was a quick success and Downs was host for 10 years, continuing with the job even after he became an anchor on NBC's "Today" morning show in 1962. During that time, he also hosted the game show "Concentration a gig that lasted 11 years".

"I really loved watching Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters host "20/20" on Friday nights", another person commented. He was on the latter program from the second episode in 1978 until he retired from television in 1999.

In 1985, Downs was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the record for the greatest number of hours on network commercial television (with 15,188), until he ceded the title to Regis Philbin in 2004.

He had lived in the state with his wife Ruth, whom he married in 1944.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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