NEW YORK — Hugh Downs, the genial, versatile broadcaster who grew to become one in all tv’s most acquainted and welcome faces with greater than 15,000 hours on information, sport and speak reveals, has died at age 99.
Downs died of pure causes at his dwelling in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, stated his great-niece, Molly Shaheen.
“The Guinness E book of World Information” acknowledged Downs as having logged extra hours in entrance of the digital camera than any tv character till Regis Philbin handed him in 2004.
He labored on NBC’s “At the moment” and “Tonight” reveals, the sport present “Focus,” co-hosted the ABC journal present “20/20” with Barbara Walters and the PBS sequence “Over Straightforward” and “Reside From Lincoln Heart.”
“I’ve labored on so many various reveals and executed so many reveals on the identical time,” Downs stated in a 1986 Related Press interview. “I as soon as stated I’d executed the whole lot on radio and tv besides play-by-play sports activities. Then I remembered I’d lined a boxing match in Lima, Ohio, in 1939.”
Downs started his broadcasting profession on the age of 18 as a $12-a-week announcer on a small Ohio radio station. When tv got here alongside, he at first appeared on it as a gimmick, however rapidly realized “it was most likely a juggernaut, and I’d higher be in on it.”
He was an announcer in Chicago, which was a tv incubator within the 1950, for “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” and “Hawkins Falls,” which he stated was tv’s first cleaning soap opera. In 1954, he went to New York for “The Dwelling Present.”
In 1961, Newsweek described him as “a gluttonous reader with a first-rate mind that he retains curried and exercised like a prize poodle.”
His fame was such that he even gained the precise to approve any business he was assigned to learn, striving to maintain doubtful claims off the air.
“My loyalty was with the individual tuning in,” he stated. “It was expedient. If I misplaced my credibility, what use would I be to a shopper?”
He confirmed his principled facet once more in 1997, when he took a trip day on “20/20″ reasonably than be half on a present that included an interview with Marv Albert after the sportscaster was caught in a lurid sexual assault scandal.
Downs had a selected curiosity in science, as soon as launching right into a monologue on the Paar present on the science underlying water-skiing. It prompted Paar to quip, “Effectively, Hugh, whenever you drown, you’ll know the rationale why.”
His curiosity in issues of the growing older — he even earned a postgraduate diploma in gerontology — was highlighted in his Public Broadcasting Service sequence “Over Straightforward” in addition to lots of his “20/20” items.
“All of us endure in our tradition from the thought … that youth was the massive factor,” he stated.
“There was sort of a lack of respect for older folks, and we lose gleaning knowledge from older folks. We lose the power to see that impairment and decrepitude don’t essentially associate with age.”
His work on “20/20″ additionally confirmed his adventurous spirit, such because the time he received to trip a killer whale, and one other time he placed on respiration equipment to swim close to an important white shark. There was a hazardous expedition to the South Pole by which one participant practically fell to his loss of life.
“I’m fascinated with science, the setting, drugs and sure personalities,” he stated. “I simply do the tales I need to do. I don’t need to be simply the anchor.”
Downs started his work as Paar’s second banana in 1957, after a stint as host of NBC’s “The Dwelling Present.”
In a extremely publicized incident in February 1960, Paar stormed off the air in a dispute involving community chopping a Paar “water closet” (bathroom) joke the censors disliked. Downs gained reward for calmly telling the viewers “I’d wish to suppose this isn’t last” and preserving the reside present working till signoff time.
Downs stated later that he anticipated that Paar would at any minute return to the stage “with some punch line or one thing. He didn’t.” However Downs stated he was ultimately grateful for the increase the brouhaha gave his profession.
Paar lastly returned to the present just a few weeks later.
Paar’s departure from “Tonight” in 1962 paved the way in which for Johnny Carson. Downs, in the meantime, started his nine-year run as host of the “At the moment” present. Walters was a “At the moment” colleague for a part of that point. She was an admirer of Downs who praised his generosity and collegiality.
He expressed his views modestly within the 1995 guide “The Field: An Oral Historical past of Tv, 1920-1961”: “In a approach the much less expertise you might have or deploy, the much less likelihood you might have of overexposure. Which may be why I’ve been on community tv greater than anyone on the planet.”